Body Positivity vs. Toxicity – Lizzo’s Dance with Controversy

( – Music star Lizzo, often considered a “body positive” liberal icon, is under fire amid allegations of inappropriate behavior toward staff. She stands accused of creating a toxic work environment and even assaulting staff members. Three backing dancers, Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams, and Noelle Rodriguez, filed a lawsuit against the star on August 1.

The suit alleges that Lizzo pressured her dancers into attending a strip club in Amsterdam and touching the nude performers. The singer is further accused of racial and religious harassment and “body shaming.”

West Coast Employment Lawyers, representing the plaintiffs, said the way Lizzo treats her performers contradicts the image she tries to project. The Michigan native has spent much of her career encouraging larger people to feel confident about their size, but the attorneys state that “privately she weight-shames her dancers and demeans them in ways that are not only illegal but absolutely demoralizing.”

The suit names Lizzo, whose real name is Melissa Viviane Jefferson, as well as her production company and her lead dancer, Shirlene Quigley.

In a statement on August 3, the singer responded to the allegations and said she was shocked and “hurt.” She called the lawsuit “unbelievable” and “outrageous” and said the former employees had fabricated the stories and “already publicly admitted that they were told their behavior on tour was inappropriate and unprofessional.”

“Sometimes I have to make hard decisions, but it’s never my intention to make anyone feel uncomfortable,” she added.

Detroit-born Lizzo hit the musical big time in 2019 with the release of her fourth album, Cuz I Love You, which reached number four on the US charts. In a Vogue interview in 2023, she said she wanted to redefine the “body positivity movement” as “body normative.” The singer lamented the fact that body positivity had primarily been overtaken by “smaller-framed girls, curvier girls. A lot of white girls.” She said she aims to make bigger bodies normal rather than celebrated as large.

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