Stop feeding the Aries Spearses of the world who keep coming for Lizzo
OPINION: The constant sharing of viral fatphobic videos from comedians and haters about the musical superstar gives these trolls exactly what they want.
Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
Stop feeding the birds, please.
At this point, that’s how I describe the constant trolls and haters who gravel at every opportunity to insult Grammy Award-winning musician Lizzo’s weight. It’s one thing to discuss music and lyrics, but it’s another matter to keep being fatphobic about a person who’s living their best life. We get it—you have a personal problem with confident Black women who love their bodies unapologetically.
As was the case for formerly famous comedian Aries Spears, who became relevant again after taking tasteless shots at Lizzo on a viral interview clip from a random blog site we didn’t even know about before. (And to be clear, we will not be linking to or sharing the clip.)
“She’s got a very pretty face, but she keeps showing her body off,” the former MadTV cast member said to an unnamed interviewer who made it a point to stay out of the frame. Spears continued, admitting he’s not the most “in shape” but is attractive enough to be desired.
“But a woman that’s built like a plate of mashed potatoes is in trouble,” he double-downed.
Of course, the original clip posted to Twitter went viral—currently reaching close to 4 million views since dropping online. Spears has continued to relish in the newfound attention, responding to the backlash from Lizzo fans he already knew he was going to get. Blogs and media outlets continued to cover every inch of the controversy over the weekend—a broken record, at this point, that clearly hasn’t gotten old to some yet.
We’ve encountered this before in January 2020, when celebrity fitness star Jillian Michaels made it a point to insult the “Rumors” songstress during an interview:
“Why are we celebrating her body? Why does it matter?” Michaels said during an interview on BuzzFeed News’ AM2DM. “Why aren’t we celebrating her music? ’Cause it isn’t going to be awesome if she gets diabetes. I’m just being honest. Like, I love her music. Like, my kid loves her music. But there’s never a moment where I’m like, ‘And I’m so glad she’s overweight!’ Like, why do I even care? Why is it my job to care about her weight?”
Really, girl? Really?
And I’m still not over how Diddy played Lizzo during the pandemic when she made a guest appearance twerking on his Instagram Live:
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Diddy said when he interrupted her moment and turned the music off. “It’s Easter Sunday. Let’s play something a little bit family-friendly.” He did all of that only to praise reality TV star Draya hours later during the very same Easter Sunday when she shook her body on his Instagram Live to Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up.”
“Yo, Draya, we’re proud of that. You killed that,” he congratulated her with his sons in the background once her “performance” was over. “I think that was one of the top performances.”
The list goes on, but the point is clear: We’ve been forced to be informed of how others feel about this Black woman’s body as if it’s a global crisis. And to make matters worse, these remarks are coming from people who intentionally mean harm. Enough is enough. We can act like folks will grow up—but misery loves company. What needs to happen right now is society and largely the media should stop feeding “the birds” who seek fame off this Black woman’s success.
And let’s not act like none of this has previously taken a toll on Lizzo’s body confidence. The “Truth Hurts” singer has made it known throughout various interviews how she is “so much more than that because I actually present that [and] I have a whole career; it’s not a trend.
“I’ve come to terms with body dysmorphia and evolved,” Lizzo said during a February 2020 cover story interview with Rolling Stone. “The body-positive movement is doing the same thing. We’re growing together, and it’s growing pains, but I’m just glad that I’m attached to something so organic and alive.”
If we care about Lizzo, then that looks like us not fueling the fire and giving a platform to those who are fat-shaming her. These “jokes,” “opinions” and “recommendations” not only tell us how they feel about her but perpetuate the degradation of Black women’s bodies for public consumption.
Imagine if we didn’t make Aries Spears relevant for a few days off of this? Like seriously, who cares what he has to say about someone he doesn’t know? Have we considered how Lizzo feels having her name brought up in pointless conversations? The “interviewer” who was too cowardly to reveal himself when asking Spears these questions knew what he was doing.
This is the same way certain trolling sites use queer artist Lil Nas X as bait for homophobes to espouse disgusting “hot” takes. Lizzo is clearly being used in the same matter for washed-up comedians to scapegoat her for their fatphobia. The profiting off others’ identities for undeserved clout is nauseating and played out. Right now, the only reason why this is newsworthy is because we’re making it so.
If you’re for Lizzo’s (or any person’s) right to exist without fatphobia, do us all a favor and stop retweeting and gassing up these online trolls who purposely do this for attention. There’s nothing funny about online cyberbullying, and for us to keep treating it as “newsworthy” just fuels the disgusting trend of exploiting Black pain for capital gain.
Once again, Lizzo had the last laugh during the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards over the weekend when she gave an acceptance speech that shut down all of the B.S.
“They be like, ‘Lizzo why don’t you clap back? Why don’t you clap back?’ ‘Cause, bitch, I’m winning, hoe!” Lizzo said to a crowd rooting for her. “Big bitch is winning, ho! Best revenge is your paper, bitch!”
And she’s right; she is winning. Newly engaged, topping the charts and beloved by more fans than trolls—Lizzo is more focused on her career than the distractions.
It’s about damn time for the rest of us to be doing the same as well. Rather than keep having Lizzo have the last laugh, let’s give her the only one.
Ernest Owens is the Editor at Large of Philadelphia magazine and CEO of Ernest Media Empire, LLC. The award-winning journalist has written for The New York Times, NBC News, USA Today and several other major publications. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and ernestowens.com.
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