The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday September 26th

Column: Lizzo is breaking boundaries — and bringing others with her

Lizzo arrives for the 62nd Grammy Awards at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. Photo courtesy of Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/TNS
Buy Photos Lizzo arrives for the 62nd Grammy Awards at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. Photo courtesy of Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/TNS

The world of fashion and entertainment has long been exclusionary and discriminatory. Pop sensation Lizzo is working to change that.

Beyond her musical prowess and extensive vocal talent, singer and rapper Lizzo has emerged as a role model in more ways than one. As a plus-sized Black woman in an industry dominated by whiteness and toxic diet culture, Lizzo stands her ground as a leader in diversifying the music industry. 

Lizzo recently announced her new full-figured top model reality show, soon to be on Amazon. The series will follow the singer as she searches for a new dancer and model to join her team. She has been using her social media to promote the upcoming competition show, and encourages applications from dancers and models from all walks of life who come across her feed.

The show and its enthusiastic response from diverse fans around the country display the power of representation and reflect increasing diversity and inclusion within the fashion world. 

The entertainment industry is particularly important in terms of representation, because the media is incredibly powerful in shaping our worldviews. When we consistently see only one body type or one skin tone on our screens, we internalize that lack of diversity. This has a negative effect on those who don’t fit “the mold” being portrayed — particularly children who are still solidifying their self-perception. 

However, when diverse creators succeed in industries, they open the door for others like them and help subconsciously foster more inclusive perspectives in everyone watching. 

Even if show participants don’t ultimately get to join Lizzo on tour, the publicity from the show will help bolster the opportunities they — and others like them — may be offered after the show’s end. 

Lizzo’s success within the music industry helps to shape the narrative surrounding Black and plus-sized women, both within the group itself and outside of it, and encourages members of these groups to pursue similar passions they might have. As more plus-sized women and women of color succeed in these fields, members of this group are more likely to be hired by other employers, and the cycle of perpetuating diversity and inclusion continues.

The positive effects of representation aren’t limited to supermodels and entertainment professionals, though. When diverse individuals succeed in a variety of job opportunities, they inspire others like them to pursue those historically exclusionary fields. Therefore, inclusive workplaces must be created at the local level to truly achieve wide-reaching inclusivity and acceptance — and everyone plays a role in creating those spaces.

So, start in Chapel Hill. 

Support body-positive organizations and Black-owned businesses at the local level. Rumors Boutique is a Black-owned thrift store in both Chapel Hill and Durham. Tonya’s Cookies is a Black-owned bakery that is walkable from UNC’s campus. The Black Art Depot is a Black-owned business that sells art online and operates out of Durham.

Also, relentlessly pursue the opportunities you seek, despite any barriers in your way. As Lizzo would say, “I am my inspiration.”

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