Thanks to Eddie Murphy’s historic return as guest host on Saturday Night Live this past December, I was exposed to a musical artist I had never heard of before. Family and close friends know her as Melissa Viviane Jefferson but to her fans, and the rest of us, she is known as Lizzo. Since I don’t listen to much rap and hip hop, she would’ve never been on my radar but she piqued my curiosity after seeing an impromptu promo for the show.
I have to tell you I was pleasantly surprised by her performance! I’m more of a lyrics person so if you sell me there, I can pretty much get with the beat and that’s what she did:
“Why men great till they gotta be great….” Even as a baby boomer, old enough to be Lizzo’s mother, I could relate to what she was saying in her lyrics—and let’s face it, we were all young once and thinking similar thoughts about some of the foolishness we got into with those “bad boyz.”
Lizzo was high energy and had such presence onstage!
Fast forward a few days later…….Things turned ugly on Twitter when I saw these comments from someone identified as Dr. Boyce Watkins:
#Lizzo popular is because there is an obesity epidemic in America. Rather than encouraging people to do better, we are simply lying to them and telling them that they are just fine the way they are. Unfortunately, Many of these people are dying from diabetes and heart disease .
I’m popular because I write good songs and I’m talented and perform high energy hour and a half shows filled with love. The only person who needs to do better is you. Keep my name out ya mouth & look in the mirror before you come for me. Here’s the attention you ordered.
I thought of chiming in on Twitter at the time with my two cents but the more I thought about it, the more I started to understand both sides. While I don’t believe Dr. Watkins was intentionally being vindictive with his comments, I do think he could’ve handled the conversation differently. But let’s keep it real. He ISN’T wrong. Obesity is a major problem in our country, especially in the black community, and we don’t address it but to say Lizzo is popular because of the obesity epidemic isn’t fair. (No one ever said that about Mama Cass from the Mamas and Papas). How does he know her family members or BFF’s haven’t had talks with her about weight loss? Does he think she is blindly overlooking what she looks like? Furthermore, what gives him the authority to address the obesity epidemic. Dr. Watkins is NOT a medical doctor. He identifies himself as an author, economist, and political analyst. There’s no M.D. behind his name.
On the other hand, what Lizzo said wasn’t wrong either. She does have high energy and I saw her do some things in her videos that women half her size can’t do. She could’ve, however, taken the high road and opted not to respond to Dr. Watkins at all—just let her fans do the talking for her—which many of them apparently did from what I could see.
Who says big girls can’t be attractive and sexy? This sounds like part of Lizzo’s brand. Branding is extremely important when it comes to getting your name out there. You establish a presence and determine your brand attributes. You determine what you want your personal brand to convey. What adjectives do you want people to associate with you and then you manage it.
Sadly, White America has conditioned us to believe you shouldn’t be over a certain weight—-but just about every black man I’ve ever talked to says he likes a woman with some meat on her bones–and some like more meat than others.
No matter what you think about Lizzo’s appearance, we can all agree that she has taken on the music industry by storm and has every right to be Feelin Good as Hell: Her honors, so far, include:
- Soul Train Award for Music Video of the Year for the song Juice.
- Apple Music Award for Breakout Artist of the Year.
- Named Entertainer of the Year by the Associated Press.
- Made President Barack Obama’s list of Favorite Music in 2019 (which he posted on Twitter)
- Nominated for 8 Grammy awards (show airs 1/26/20)
I’d say that’s more than reason enough to go on and shake a tail feather!