Diet culture is an insidious beast. You set firm boundaries with your family, curate your social feeds and shake off the shackles of fad diets and toxic gym environments only to be whacked in the face with the news that Lizzo is on a juice cleanse.
Lizzo is an icon. She pushes against societal expectations by just existing and we worship her for it. So when I saw her actively promoting products that profit off of fat people hating themselves, my heart broke.
I would never tell any woman, especially a woman of colour, what to do with her body. Nor will I ever comment on another person’s body. If Lizzo wants to go on a juice cleanse then that’s her prerogative. But we can’t ignore the fact that Lizzo is a woman with extreme influence.
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Lizzo didn’t ask to be the face of the fat acceptance movement, and she didn’t ask for us to hold her to a different standard – as a Black woman society already does that. But nevertheless Lizzo has gained a following of vulnerable people who look up to her and for many she may be the only source of fat representation they have. Knowing this, as I’m sure she does, was it irresponsible of her to advertise such a restrictive diet, or any diet?
I live with an eating disorder so I’m well acquainted with the voice in our heads telling us that our worth is tied to the size of our waist and the food that we put in our mouths. So I have filled my Instagram feed with love and diverse representation in order to help my recovery and protect myself from fatphobes and diet culture. I never thought I would have to protect myself from Lizzo.
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People are going to tell me that it wasn’t a weight loss diet and that Lizzo was drinking a majoritively liquid diet to ‘restart her stomach’m but here are some facts: The company tagged in all of the stories advertises fast weight loss, it’s on their website. Lizzo posted before and after photos which really show you nothing about a person’s health. All they really achieve is maintaining the notion that the ‘changed’ body has a higher morale value to society. And lastly, juice cleanses and detoxes are dangerous. So it’s understandable that so many of her followers feel triggered. These videos are the type of propaganda that have attacked us in the past and those wounds run deep.
Source: Lizzo’s Instagram story.
I’m concerned that there are people that follow Lizzo who are now going to try and build their own detox diets because Lizzo made it seem like a viable option. What these diets really do is further reinforce toxic diet culture and perpetuate weight cycling and potential disordered eating. Do you have kidneys and a liver? Then your body is capable of detoxing itself.
Am I angry with Lizzo? No, because I don’t believe that she arrived at the place of ‘juice cleanse’ unaided. Lizzo exists within several intersections and is therefore subjected to an endless amount of scrutiny, which I will never be able to fathom. So it is easy to understand how a person, even one as fat positive as Lizzo, can be sucked back into the toxic diet culture cycle. This problem here is not Lizzo, it’s society.
I’m furious that we still live in a society that celebrates smaller bodies, a society that has constantly and relentlessly tormented such a talented artist for her size. Lizzo’s body is subjected to constant critiquing and evaluation and that needs to stop. Conversations about the appearance of people’s bodies need to stop. Because what results is Lizzo taking to TikTok to share how negative her body image and self talk have become. Who can blame her when, loving herself or trying to lose weight, she is constantly inundated with people who have opinions about her body?
My initial reaction to seeing Lizzo’s journey was a triggered reaction. I felt rage and sadness because she is someone I idolise. Lizzo got me through my worst trolls and diet culture moments, but no one person is responsible for our bodies and how we feel about them. If this experience has taught us anything it’s that we have individual autonomy over ourselves and how we feel, and so does Lizzo. Be kind to Lizzo, she is clearly going through some things that are none of our business, but compassion is needed.
If Lizzo’s video, this article or anything else has you feeling triggered then step away. It’s ok to unfollow people or mute people in order to protect your mental health. Set some firm boundaries and look after yourself first. That being said, if you need some body positive action in your life Lizzo’s latest post, may be just what you need.
Are we canceling Lizzo? Absolutely not! Cancel culture is dead so instead of calling her out, I’m calling her (and all of you) in. Spreading the message of fat acceptance and body love does not lie on the shoulders of one human and nor should it. So embrace your curves, raise your voices and celebrate your body for everything it does for you. You are perfect and nobody can take that away from you.
Lacey-Jade Christie (she/her) is a body positivity activist, plus size fashion influencer, freelance writer and professional opinion haver whose goal in life is to inspire people to love the skin they’re in through the power of storytelling and education.
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