Lizzo poised to perform at Grammys; battles criticism and keeps moving


Depending on a person’s perspective, Lizzo is everything, or at least an interesting performer. The 31-year-old Detroit native has stirred controversy with her looks, her outfits and her music. Still, the rapper, flautist and songwriter continues her stride toward doing things her way. Even though she announced she was leaving Twitter in January because of hateful comments about her body, Lizzo’s performance at this year’s Grammys will be one to look forward to.

Lizzo: Inspiring love and hate

Famously or infamously, Lizzo has been accused of “making music for white people” which does not make sense given the content of some of her most popular songs. In addition, Azealia Banks once made this statement on Instagram: “The fact that the media and the public has been keeping this fat girl joke going for so long is honestly peak boredom.”

Interesting that the comment has been deleted. In an era that is marked by the creation of “safe spaces” in classrooms, workplaces and other areas of life where diversity of looks, experience and abilities are to be prized, the comment sounds out of place. A quick look at the top singers on “The Voice” shows that talent is not a size. While some people are slow to get the memo, Lizzo continues.

Body-shaming cannot stand in for a critique of an artist’s music. There are plenty of thin artists with questionable talent. No one says, “well, he or she is thin.” The idea that people across racial, generational and economic lines tend to love Lizzo is a testament to her reaching people. Her lines about “ugly crying” and “shampoo, press, get you outta my hair” and “why men great/’til they gotta be great” are almost universal among American women. Her size do not make these lines funny and easy to relate to; her delivery and personality make them work – – and fun to sing, even if a person typically listens to other genres of music.

For some audiences, Lizzo might have only been the name of a new artist that they never heard of until she performed on “Saturday Night Live.” In some ways, her performance was the musical gift that the US needed, whether its citizens knew was beside the point.

During the performance, Lizzo rocked it out, literally. With a rock band comprised of plus-size women, she performed to live music. She banged her head to guitar riffs and jumped up and down in her designer coat. This is not the behavior of someone willing to allow other people to tell her what to do or how to do it.

In an age of ubiquitous DNA tests, even for pets, when Lizzo raps that her DNA test proves she’s “one hundred percent that bitch,” it is a line to admire, or at least smile in response to.

When the Grammys airs this Sunday night (check local listings for times), Lizzo will be nominated in eight categories, in addition to being slated to perform. Love her or hate her, this moment is Lizzo’s in which to shine.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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