We all know Lizzo as a super confident woman who flaunts her voluptuous curves unapologetically. During a recent TED Talk, she revealed that she wasn’t always this fierce.
“If you follow me on social media before you’ve probably seen my heinie before,” she told the audience. “I used to hate my a**, believe it or not. I have my father’s shape and my mother’s thighs, so it’s big, and long. I used to think that only asses like J.Lo’s or Beyoncé’s could be famous. I never thought that could happen to me.”
Growing up, she saw that her body type wasn’t celebrated and it reinforced her feelings about her body and behind.
“I always felt like my body type wasn’t the right one, or the desirable one growing up,” she added. “Because I grew up in an era where having a big a** wasn’t mainstream.”
Fast forward to now and her body is not only celebrated by her but by all of her fans. The “Rumors” singer said twerking helped her gain the confidence she has today.
“My a** has been the topic of conversations, my ass has been in magazines, Rihanna gave my a** a standing ovation. Yes, my booty! My least favorite part of my body,” she said. “How did this happen? Twerking. Through the movement of twerking, I realized that my a** is my greatest asset. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to my TED Twerk.”
The 33-year-old singer and songwriter went on to give the audience a history lesson about twerking to help them understand its roots in African culture.
“Modern-day twerking derived from Black people and Black culture. It has a direct parallel to West African dances like Mapouka. Traditionally, Mapouka was a dance for West African women to be used as a celebration of joy, religious worship, or a dance to do at a wedding to show you were DTF or DTM, down to marry,” she laughed. “Black women carried these dances across the transatlantic slave trade to the ring shout and what became the Black American Church, into the hips of Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith when they sang the blues, into the bounce of Josephine Baker’s banana dance…Black people carried the origins of this dance through our DNA, through our blood, through our bones. We made twerking the global cultural phenomenon it became today.”
Besides highlighting Big Freedia and Beyonce’s contribution to making twerking a phenomenon, she called out Miley Cyrus’ appropriation of twerking and how her actions caused it to be “taken out of context.” She pointed out that “everything that Black people create, from fashion to music to the way we talk, is co-opted and appropriated by pop culture.”
She continued, “For me, twerking ain’t a trend,” she said.”My body ain’t a trend. I twerk because of my ancestors, for sexual liberation, for my b******, hey girl. Because I can. Because I know I look good. I twerk because it’s unique to the Black experience, it’s unique to my culture, and it means something real to me.”
Watch her full TED Talk below.