People's responses to Lizzo in a bikini show just how fat-phobic society really is

Sirena Bergman@SirenaBergman
Sunday 09 February 2020 11:15
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(Getty/Twitter @PageSix)

Every wondered why the internet, the tabloid media and the world at large seems to be plastered with pictures of women in bikinis, yet rarely do we see a man long-lensed while living his best life on the beach?

Answer: the world is obsessed with commenting on women's bodies, and the more of them they can see, the more there is to judge.

Enter Lizzo, flute queen, lyrical genius and performer extraordinaire, who is now making headlines for - what else? - her body.

On Friday, Page Six tweeted out two pictures of Lizzo on a beach while on vacation, saying she "rocks a tiny red bikini".

For starters, can be abandon the idea that women "rock" their clothes? Sometimes, we just wear them - like men! Wild, I know.

Anyway, commenters could not judge fast enough, desperate to point out that they'd noticed that Lizzo is larger than the average female celebrity. Their powers of deduction know no bounds.

There were many who posted horrifyingly offensive comments which we won't repeat, but others fell into the seemingly well-meaning but hugely problematic trap of commenting on her body in relation to her health.

Mainly, they were along these kinds of lines:

This is not a new argument. We see female celebrities from Adele to Tess Holliday being shamed for their size every time a picture of them appears on people's timelines (even Cancer Research is in on it). It needs to stop.

As people have pointed out over and over again, you cannot judge a person's health based on their size or weight.

It's society's reactions to people (mostly women) who live in larger bodies which leads to a lot of the side effects which are incorrectly attributed to their weight. The endless societal shaming of fat women creates a toxic culture of fatphobic prejudice and diet fetishisation which is as damaging emotionally as it is physically.

It's also worth noting that so-called lifestyle choices (what and how much we eat, our attitude towards exercise, etc) have much less of an impact on our weight than society would have us assume. Studies show that our chances of becoming "obese" are up to 70 per cent down to our genetics.

Research also demonstrates that the unhappier someone is with their body, the less likely they are to make healthy choices, demonstrating that fatphobia can literally cost lives.

There were people who understood the problem with the narrative around Lizzo's body, and reacted accordingly.

The body-positivity movement (although not without its flaws) along with its later incarnation "body neutrality", aims to allow people - especially women - to reach a point of contentedness with their bodies, knowing that this is the one factor that is most likely to increase our quality and expectancy of life.

The responsibility with educating people on these issues does not lie with Lizzo, or with any other celebrity - especially those who are women (and especially women of colour) in larger bodies who already experience multiprongued oppression and prejudice from society.

That said, Lizzo's blase positive attitude towards her body should be a goal for us all.

People trying to tear her down for being bold enough to wear a bikini may want to examine their prejudice and the dangerous impact it can have.

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MORE: Is it 'fatphobic' to praise Adele's weight loss?

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