The Liberation of Being Body Positive: One Plus-Size Writer on What Lizzo Means to Her
Finally, I’m starting to see women on TV who look like me and so many other folks I know: fat and fierce.
I can’t quite describe the feeling that welled up inside me while watching Lizzo bring a star-studded crowd to their feet at the MTV Movie & TV Awards in June. It was like a fizzy mixture of joy, pride, admiration and validation that left me teary-eyed and smiling for days. Finally, I’m starting to see women on TV who look like me and so many other folks I know: fat and fierce.
For a kid in the early 2000s, the role model pool was slim—literally. You were either Team Britney or Team Christina. Now, thanks to up-and-comers like Lizzo and the power of fan culture, I’m seeing more body positive representation onscreen than ever.
Due to the immediate success of its first season, Hulu’s Shrill, the Aidy Bryant-led comedy based on journalist Lindy West’s book of the same name, is getting a new season with two additional episodes. In the first season, Bryant’s character, Annie, goes to a body positive, fat babe pool party. I was hooked instantly.
That old saying “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings”? She sang, all right—but she’s just getting started.
It’s not just women like me who are into Shrill. The show has a 92 per cent critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes, which is important since while there are a lot of us, we typically aren’t a demo that advertisers and content creators court. Just look at Netflix’s Insatiable, in which a teenage girl loses weight and takes revenge on her classmates after becoming “hot.” The problematic premise alone was enough to inspire a backlash from viewers and the media, not to mention a Change.org petition to cancel Insatiable that was started before the show had even debuted. Netflix renewed the show for a second season, too, despite a critics’ score of 13 per cent. Tellingly, though, Insatiable has a much higher audience rating (83 per cent, which is slightly higher than Shrill’s). But how much of that score comes from women like me?
Critics everywhere are also finally heaping similarly-well-deserved praise on Lizzo. During her performance of “Juice” at the MTV Movie & TV Awards, she turned out amazing vocals and dancing. But I couldn’t get over the fact that her belly was visible through her denim outfit—a huge sartorial moment for plus-size women who’ve been hiding behind billowy clothing for years. That old saying “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings”? She sang, all right—but she’s just getting started. We fat babes have become unstoppable.