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Lizzo's Journey From Rock Bottom to Radical Positivity
Lizzo at BET Awards
Success Stories

Lizzo's Journey From Rock Bottom to Radical Positivity

Lizzo spent years struggling, but now that she's finally made it, she has all the skills needed to love herself, win or lose.

If you don't know Lizzo already, you're about to. There's a very good reason AfroPunk has dubbed the future icon “the star we need right now.”

The uber-talented 31-year old singer, rapper, and classically trained flautist (no joke) is becoming more and more recognized for her unique and delicious sound. Plus— she’s a bad-ass, body positive, big, black woman who’s not afraid to spread a powerful message of empowerment and self-love.

Take, for example: her recent number one hit "Truth Hurts", which she released nearly two years before it finally hit the top of the charts. The song is an infectious anthem about loving yourself even when others mistreat you -- of never letting other people hurt your sense of self-worth.

If you're in the mood to learn a lesson or two about fearless self-love, here are a few that Lizzo's been sharing with us all for some time now.

Here's how Lizzo made it to the top:

She’s not afraid to take up space

Although it was far from her first step into the professional music world, Lizzo finally made headlines back in April with her third album, Cuz I Love You.

In this and many other music videos, like "Tempo", her infectious collab with Missy Elliot, she owns her right to occupy space, both literally and figuratively.

It started with wanting to be somebody else and actually not loving myself. Then one day I was like 'Yo, I'm going to be in this body forever.'

Many of her videos and performances show her as the biggest person on stage (physically). She wears this like a badge of honor, with the rhymes, vocals, and moves to match.

She refuses to stop doing what she loves

This may seem obvious, but it’s an important lesson. As Bob Dylan once said in his timeless tune "Buckets of Rain": “You do what you must do and ya do it well.”

Lizzo's persistence over the last 8 years -- and recent success -- is proof of this. Although ger performances are incredibly well-rehearsed, they're far from soulless. She and her dance team look like they’re having a blast, every time.

As some of us are fortunate enough to have figured out, when you love what you do, the self-love inherent in that fact colors how others engage with you!

That’s why Lizzo’s unstoppable energy is enough to inspire even the most deflated among us.

She came back from rock bottom

When Lizzo was 21, not only did her father pass away, but she spent the year homeless, living out of her car, and she was skinny.

"I was addicted to the gym, I didn't eat, and I was sleeping in a dusty car," she told Teen Vogue.

It was only after hitting rock bottom that Lizzo as we know her today started emerging.

But — she wishes it didn't have to be like that. 

"Everyone shouldn't have to hit rock bottom to love themselves. That's just the society we're all unfortunately born in—the one where you have to hit your worst and hate yourself in order to love yourself? Those laws only exist because self-hate is so prevalent. Body positivity only exists because body negativity is the norm," she said.

She’s not afraid to be vulnerable

Missy Elliott and Lizzo

While some might assume that a persona so outwardly exuberant and confident must be so all the time, Lizzo has discussed the reality that giving a lot of herself to strangers on a daily basis can take its toll, sharing publicly that she sees a therapist and finds it very helpful. On The Breakfast Club, she explained:

I went through such a dark age in my life that now, as a grown woman, I work really hard on self-care, self-love, and trying to be positive -- and it shows.

Her practice of full disclosure even when discussing personal struggle only adds to her overall positive energy, which we can all learn from.

She takes big risks

In June, standing atop a giant cake in a wedding gown, Lizzo took the BET Awards by storm with her hit "Truth Hurts", breaking to twerk and play the flute simultaneously—one of her trademark moves. She accomplishes with the flute something no one else does, and she knows it.

In August, she wowed crowds at the MTV VMAs when she kicked things off with a troop of twerking dancers in chaps — and a pair of giant inflatable buttocks as a backdrop to boot.

As she segued into "Good As Hell", she reassured the audience: “You deserve to feel good as hell!”, who roared their support fr her unique brand of creative and emotional risk-taking. 

It’s so hard loving yourself in a world that doesn’t love you back. Am I right? So I want to take this opportunity right now to just feel good as hell because you deserve to feel good as hell!

More inspiring musicians:

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