“There was no Lizzo before Lizzo,” according to the 33-year-old superstar. Now, with three Grammys underneath her belt, two Soul Train Awards, and a slew of fans, the “Rumors” hitmaker reflected on her success and hardships for PEOPLE’s Women Changing the World Issue.
Lizzo broke onto the music scene in 2019 with her hit single “Truth Hurts,” a tune that smashed the Billboard Hot 100 charts for several consecutive weeks at number 1. The viral song won the Texas native her first Grammy for Best Pop Solo performance, too. Success continued to skyrocket for the singer and flutist, with the release of her second song “Good as Hell.” Fans from around the world resonated with the track’s catchy melody and powerful messages of self-love, Black beauty, and acceptance, something that the famous star has become known for preaching in her music and through various initiatives. Lizzo told PEOPLE that after 3 years of hard work, she’s finally reveling in the fruits of her labor.
“I deserve the spotlight,” she said. “I deserve the attention. I’m talented, I’m young, I’m hot. You know? And I’ve worked hard.”
Lizzo’s dynamic career trajectory wasn’t an easy feat. The star confessed that as she unlocked new levels of stardom, critics and people within the industry would often push a new barrier in her path, but the singer remained resilient amongst the pressure. Lizzo thanked her parents for being a strong source of support and guidance throughout her difficult journey.
“I grew up in a family that was very proud of our Blackness,” she explained. She credits her mother and her father, who died when she was just 20-years-old, for teaching her early about the plight of Black Americans in the United States.
“I don’t think my dad wanted to tell us about the gruesome murders that happen to Black people all the time,” Lizzo, whose real name is Melissa Viviane Jefferson, continued. “But Black parents have this responsibility to let their children know what can happen. They taught me at a very young age how America treats Black people. How it treats Black women. And I saw very quickly how we treat fat people.”
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Lizzo’s plus-sized frame became the topic of discussion as she became popular, at times, even a laughing point for online bullies and critics. The singer said she’s been slammed with all sorts of stereotypes for being big and now, she’s fighting to dismantle the harmful stigma.
“The funny, fat friend… I played that trope in high school. Or the friend who is gonna beat your ass ’cause she’s big. Or it’s the big girl who’s insecure ’cause she’s big,” she recalled of the harmful insults. “I don’t think I’m the only kind of fat girl there is. I want us to be freed from that box we’ve been put in.”
Despite the backlash, Lizzo knows she still looks “Good as Hell.”
“I think I have a really hot body! I’m a body icon, and I’m embracing that more and more every day,” she added. “It may not be one person’s ideal body type just like, say, Kim Kardashian might not be someone’s ideal, but she’s a body icon and has created a modern-day beauty standard. And what I’m doing is stepping into my confidence and my power to create my own beauty standard. And one day that will just be the standard.”
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