Leotards and Lessons from Lizzo

Lessons and Leotards from Lizzo

The Prequel

I heard Lizzo play the flute before I ever heard any of her lyrics or saw her perform. Let me be clear, without any of the present day fanfare – I classified her as a bad mamma jamma. Listening to those sweet melodies escape from Sasha Flute {indeed, her flute has a name… and an Instagram – @Sashabefluting}, I was impressed to say the least. Lizzo is ridiculously talented and expresses her flaut-fabulousity effortlessly and brilliantly. But dang it…

Ridiculously Long Run On Sentence Ahead but I Kept It to Really Emphasize the Rush of Thoughts and Emotions I Felt as I Recognized the Significance of That Moment.

When I saw Lizzo at the MTV Video Music Awards – killing it on stage as she ripped off her floor length trench coat to expose her perfectly plump bright yellow leotard clad body standing in front of a gigantic red thong wearing stage-sized apple booty balloon backdrop surrounded by a full squad of other perfectly plump afro and cloud themed leotard-wearing brown skinned women – tears formed in my eyes, I smiled the biggest smile, pumped my fist in the air and screamed, “Yes!”

So Who Is This Beautiful Human and Where Has She Been All Our Lives?

Coming to you now… with a middle school {ish} internet search based report type answer to that question.

On April 27, 1988,  Melissa Viviane Jefferson was born in Detroit, Michigan. At the age of 10, she moved to Houston, Texas. As a teenager, she was a member of musical group called the Cornrow Clique. It was during this time that her name would evolve from Lissa to Lizzo – a take on Jay-Z’s then popular song “Izzo.” Lizzo graduated from Alief Elsik High School {shout out to my district who is super proud of her accomplishments}. A self proclaimed “band nerd,” she earned a music scholarship to the University of Houston and earned a degree in Classical Flute Performance. Besides earning the title of classically trained flautist, Lizzo’s talents extend to singing, rapping and acting. Her own body image struggles have been the driving force behind many of the messages in her music.

This year alone, Lizzo has appeared on The Ellen Show, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and the Daily Show with Trevor Noah. She’s been nominated for Teen Choice Awards, MTV Video Music Awards and People’s Choice Awards. She also performed at the VMAs and Coachella. On Instragram, Lizzo currently has 5.6 million followers and Sasha {yes, her flute} has over 260,000 followers. In the same vein as Beyonce’s Beyhive, Lizzo now has {wait for it}… Lizzbians. 

This is Lizzo’s moment and her tremendous talent, plus sized personality, monumental messages, animated music and delicious lyrics have spawned a movement. 

Warning :: Explicit Content… Wrapped in All the Feel Goods

If you are not yet familiar with the Lizzo phenomenon, let me give you a little more information. Lizzo’s themes work for almost everyone and all ages. But Lizzo’s lyrics… well… e’rebody ain’t ready. Her music is not for the faint at heart or the PG-13 and under crowd. I’m forty-{cough} and there are a few songs that made my pretty brown skin blush. In spite of that though, I wouldn’t change a thing. Not a doggone thing. Lizzo is unapologetically Lizzo – expressing herself, loving herself and taking us to school for a little learning.

Note to reader :: When you see words with {*} placed in front, this indicates I have taken a little liberty with Lizzo’s terminology. Where you would normally see or hear %$&#, you will instead read something G-rated. But not because I don’t sing along… loudly… to Lizzo’s original lingo. Stealing from the Law and Order intro… some words have been changed to protect the innocent. 

Three Mini Lessons from the Music of Lizzo

Representation Matters.

Bigger than the sun and the moon. I can feel it in my bones. We can take over the world. And all my big girls tell it. – Lizzo {B.G.S.W.}

I have racked my brain trying to think of an artist that has represented for the plus sized woman in such unapologetic grandiose fashion. I came up empty. Lizzo. And her squad – The Big Grrrls. Breaking the norms. Size. Color. Afros. Leotards. Dancing. On stage. Front and center. For the world to see. Body positivity. These images have been missing from celebration and Lizzo is giving the world and every little girl – regardless of size, color, appearance knowledge that the limitations placed on women by society are hot garbage. Boooooy, If I could track down that plus size cloud leotard, y’all wouldn’t know what to do with me.

We All Have Those Moments.

Come now, come dry your eyes. You know you a star, you can touch the sky. I know that it’s hard but you have to try. If you need advice, let me simplify…. Woo girl, need to kick off your shoes. Got to take a deep breath, time to focus on you… Boss up and change your life. You can have it all, no sacrifice.  – Lizzo {Good as *Heck}

Lizzo is the friend and cheerleader people need.  She is the one telling us to get our crap together; she reminds us who we are and that we have the power to find our own happy place. Lizzo comes to us with coping strategies, support, an upbeat tempo and one of the catchiest hooks I’ve heard in a long time. In a crappy mood… try some Lizzo music. Gotta clean your house… Lizzo music. Long road trip… Lizzo. Baby how you feelin’?! Feelin good as *heck! {Neck rolling while I type those lyrics.}

Recognize Your Own Value.

I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% that *chick. Even when I’m crying crazy. Yeah, I got boy problems, that’s the human in me. Bling bling, then I solve ’em, that’s the goddess in me… You’re posed to hold me down, but you’re holding me back. And that’s the sound of me not calling you back. – Lizzo {Truth Hurts}

Lizzo recognizes that she comes with some issues. Fa real though, who here doesn’t? But those issues do not define her or decrease her worth. We can all identify with this message. We still get to have boundaries. We still get to determine who and what is good for us. We still get to kick unhealthy relationships to the curb. We are entitled to self-preservation. We control our circumstances. Know your worth. And make sure everyone else knows it as well. I don’t play tag *chick. I been it. 

Full Disclosure

If I’m shinin’, everybody gonna shine – yeah I’m gold. I was born like this, don’t even gotta try – now you know. I’m like Chardonnay, get better with time – so you know.  Heard you say I’m not the baddest *chick, you lied. – Lizzo {Juice}

In closing, I need you all to know that after listening to my “Lovely Lizzo” Spotify playlist on repeat for a couple of hours, I searched for a fancy Joi-sized Lizzo-tard {term coined by moi} because I felt like it was totally appropriate for scribing a Lizzo worthy piece. In the end, I found nothing remotely comparable to Lizzo’s masterpieces. So, I settled for sweats and a tee.  And I was still feelin’ myself. I guess you can blame it on my juice. 


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Joi was born and raised in San Antonio. After a brief pit stop at the University of Texas in Austin, Joi moved to Houston in 1994 and began checking boxes off her never ending to do list. During this time and in no particular order, Joi taught a little bit of everything between first and eighth grades, got married and then divorced, completed grad school, birthed a few babies – Ferris {November 1997}, Warren {December 1999} and Laylah {March 2006}, moved an old lady into her home – Granny {January 1925} started working in Human Resources, served an excessive amount of time (on boards, in booster clubs, team momming) as a crazy sports momma, and learned a lot of life lessons. Joi is known for her unabashed honesty, always present sense of humor and her #TeamTooMuch style of doing everything. On most days, you can find her caught up in her love/hate relationship with politics, feeding her Facebook addiction, or counting the number of days until her last child graduates from high school.


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