Watch Out for Lizzo…Actually, Watch Out for ALL the Big GRRRLS
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Lizzo is frustrated. And it’s understandable. Years after proclaiming that a DNA test proved that she was “100% That BITCH,” on her breakout 2017 hit “Truth Hurts,” she still has to continuously prove that she’s a bonafide pop star like her peers. And while we can concoct a myriad of reasons why that’s the case, you and I both know it’s because she’s fat.
Yes, Lizzo is fat. And unapologetically so. And that really rubs some people the wrong way.
So I can’t imagine how upset folks were when they heard she was going to be executive producing and hosting her OWN competition-style dance show on Amazon Prime, where EVERY contestant was also going to be fat.
Watch out for the big girls, indeed.
I sat down to binge all eight episodes of Watch Out for the Big Grrrls with high expectations. As a fellow fat Black girl, Lizzo simply had to deliver. She had to. The stakes are too high, the visibility too intense, the haters too ready to pounce if she, or any of her fat dancers, failed.
The reality series follows Lizzo and 13 plus-size dance hopefuls as they trained and vyed for a spot behind the pop star as she made history as the first-ever female headliner at 2021’s Bonaroo Music Festival, (which was, unfortunately, later canceled due to Hurricane Ida) and then her upcoming world tour.
First things first; Lizzo and her dancers, DELIVERED. They were fun, talented, colorful, and TRULY diverse. Lizzo herself was resplendent in every scene; a TRUE star. She was funny, uplifting, had quips for every confessional scene and her wardrobe?! Ugh, a fat girl’s dream.
And like a true star, MOST of the music featured in WOFTBG was from Lizzo’s own catalog of feel-good hip-pop tunes (honestly we stan). The music was the perfect backdrop for the assortment of women that only someone like Lizzo could assemble — there wasn’t just size diversity (because, yes, reader, even within the plus-size community, there is size discrimination), there was age diversity, skin tone diversity, and transwomen representation. The only thing MORE rare than transwoman representation in media? FAT transwoman representation in media, but Lizzo gave it to us, honey.
The Cuz I Love You singer was also honest about the need to even have a show to find plus-size dancers, “I asked dance agencies for big girls, and they gave me nothing! Girls that look like me simply don’t get representation,” she says early on in the first episode. This underscores something myself and many other marginalized people have been saying for YEARS: breaking into entertainment or the arts as a non-white, non-thin person is made ten times harder by middlemen and gatekeepers. Why can’t someone like Lizzo find fat backup dancers if she wants them? Because some dude behind a desk in Los Angeles or New York decided that he wasn’t even going to represent fat dancers.
Whelp, his loss, because from the moment the music plays and the 13 contestants audition, we see the same energy, passion, and talent as ANY straight-size dancer. And all ten dancers chosen to move forward have rich and varied backstories that we don’t get to see in the often one-dimensional fat characters on the screen. There is former gymnast and transwoman Jayla who can flip her a$$ off. There is Asia, the former captain of the first-ever all plus-size woman HBCU majorette dance team and mental health advocate. One of my faves was Charity Holloway, who at 35-years old, is the oldest competitor on the show, and someone who embarked on another career to chase MY dreams in my 30s, I have a soft spot for her. Each dancer is clearly passionate about dance and has all faced the ridicule, hurt, and, pain that come with living in a fat body in an inherently fatphobic society.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure the world at large is still 100% ready to accept that fat people exist and we want access to the same opportunities as others. This morning, right as the show was available on Amazon Prime, it already had a 3.8/10 rating on the cesspool that is IMDB.com. Colour me a little skeptical that someone was up at 10 AM AND had time to watch nearly seven hours of TV before deciding they really didn’t like the show. And, of course, several comments confirmed it, with one snarky review stating:
Being a little chubby is fine but flaunting morbid obesity and being proud of it is a disgusting example to set for younger women who might be influenced by this
Le sigh. Yes, “jaymatt87,” Lizzo made a show about fat women appreciating their bodies, and obviously, young women are going to think, yes, let me become as large as possible, I can see fat people are treated so well in today's society. Barf. Which, when you think about it is laughable since we’ve had two decades of weight-loss reality TV shows and the only influences I’ve seen come from that is a rise in disordered eating and body dysmorphia. Turns out constantly feeding teenage girls a diet of thin women and fat women who hate themselves does NOT lead to permanent and sustainable weight loss.
Back to Lizzo. My only critique, if you can call it that, is that, yes, the self-love and acceptance journey can get a LITTLE tiring after eight episodes, but I mean, who is it harming? It’s refreshing to see a competition show where women aren’t pitted against each other, and I hope it will be a success to show people that YES, you are allowed to be fat, and still love your body and GASP, even be fat, on a television show. Groundbreaking stuff, right?
I love Lizzo, I love this show, no, I will not be taking criticism on either. But I will be shaking my ass around my living room this weekend; I want to be ready to audition for season 2 ;)