To say that Lizzo is a force of nature is nothing short of the truth. Her message is one of inclusive politics, self-love, and kindness.
Lizzo uses her platform to celebrate Blackness, the LGBTQI+ community, and women of all shapes and sizes. She is a singer, rapper, songwriter, and activist.
The Yitty CEO, and classically-trained flautist, has four Grammys, an Emmy, and many other awards under her belt. If you’re new to the world of Lizzo, it’s about damn time you jumped on board.
One of us was lucky enough to see her in action at the Hamburg stop of The Special Tour. Read on for a review of the experience, and a general deep dive into the life of the Lizzo’s Watch Out For The Big Grrrls host.
The Early Years
It’s hard to imagine Lizzo as anything other than a world-famous singer and rapper. However, she wasn’t an overnight success. Lizzo’s achievements are the result of years and years of hard work, incredible drive, and unlimited passion.
In her words, from the Love, Lizzo documentary:
“Ya’ll have no idea how close I was to this not being a thing.”
Let’s dive into her background, and shine some light on her journey to fame.
On April 27th, 1988, Melissa Viviane Jefferson was born in Detroit. Her parents were musical, and she was influenced by gospel and rock from early in her life. Her father loved Elton John, Queen, and Billy Joel. Her mother used to sing and play the piano in church.
When she was 10 years old, she moved to Houston with her family. After being inspired by a Destiny’s Child concert she attended, she set her mind on becoming a performer. She began to play the flute in sixth grade, after being encouraged by her father.
Four years after moving to Houston and becoming increasingly passionate about music, she founded the all-women rap group, ‘Cornrow Clique’. Here, she earned her stage name. ‘Lizzo’ was a fusion of her nickname, ‘Lissa’, and the name of the Jay Z song, ‘Izzo (H.O.V.A)’.
She was awarded a music scholarship to Houston University after high school, where she pursued the flute in the hopes of joining a professional orchestra. However, she dropped out in her sophomore year due to her father’s failing health. Around this time, she was also facing inner turmoil over whether to pursue rap or classical music.
Lizzo’s father passed away in 2009 when she was 20. For a time, she lived out of her car, while trying to break into the music industry. At this point, she battled depression, poor body image, and a lack of purpose.
On My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman, Lizzo talks about feeling lost around this time:
“I was really depressed by the feeling of knowing that I was supposed to be doing something, and my life not reflecting that something, you know? I knew I was supposed to be this person my whole life. Not a famous person, but this person. Infectiously happy, helping people, connecting with people.”
Lizzo credits her turning point to the decision to stop comparing herself to others. She began to sing, something she previously didn’t have confidence in. In 2011, she moved to Minneapolis, where her career began to kick off.
Finding Her Feet
Lizzo says that “Detroit is where I was born, Minneapolis is where I was branded and where I became an artist… Houston is really where I was, like, bred.”
Once in Minneapolis, Lizzo played a heavy hand in forming the all-women groups ‘the Chalice’ and ‘Grrrl Party’. These groups brought out, respectively, one album and two EPs.
In her spare time, Lizzo worked on personal projects, with a focus on positive music. In 2014, she performed on Prince’s album, ‘Plectrumelectrum’. Prince served as a huge inspiration to her, as well as as a mentor at a later stage.
When Lizzo was awarded a Grammy earlier in 2023, she acknowledged Prince’s influence in her speech:
„When we lost Prince, I decided to dedicate my life to making positive music. This was a time when positive music wasn’t mainstream.”
Lizzo’s first album, Lizzobangers got her on the map as a solo artist. She was named one of Time’s 14 artists to watch in 2014. After her next album, Big Grrrl Small World, was released in 2015, Lizzo signed a contract with Atlantic Records.
Becoming a Mainstream Success
Lizzo’s first EP with Atlantic, Coconut Oil, was released in 2016. In 2019, she released her third album, Cuz I Love You. This was the album that ultimately rocketed Lizzo into the public eye.
Thanks to Netflix and Tiktok, ‘Truth Hurts’ (originally released as a single two years prior) became a sleeper hit. Since then, Lizzo has gone on to release more music, such as her 2022 album, Special.
To date, Lizzo has been celebrated and recognized with wins at the BET Awards, Billboard Music Awards, iHeartRadio Music Awards, and more. She also holds the title of People’s Champion 2022 from the People’s Choice Awards.
At the 2020 Grammy Awards, she walked home with three golden gramophones: Best Urban Contemporary Album for Cuz I Love You (Deluxe), Best Pop Solo Performance for ‘Truth Hurts’, and Best Traditional R&B Performance for ‘Jerome’. In 2023, she snatched her fourth: Record of the Year for ‘About Damn Time’.
Lizzo’s achievements don’t end at chart-topping, multi-award-winning music. Does the name Yitty ring a bell, and did you know she’s won an Emmy?
Yitty: The Shapewear for Every Shape
In early 2022, Lizzo launched her size-inclusive shapewear brand with Fabletics: Yitty.
The name Yitty was inspired by Lizzo’s aunt:
“Yitty is a nickname my auntie gave me when I was young. She was a full-figured woman and one of the coolest people ever with bold, beautiful energy. I wanted that energy in this brand.”
While it’s common for celebrities to use their platforms to kickstart business ventures, Lizzo’s move to fashion is very in line with what she stands for.
The vision behind Yitty celebrates self-love and self-confidence. These principles are captured in everyday wear for women of all shapes and sizes.
Whether a shapewear lover is a size XS or a size 6X, they’ll be able to find their size at Yitty. Yitty has received widely positive reviews, and has a good selection of shapewear, underwear, bras, and loungewear available, in many different colours.
Yitty promotes the values that Lizzo holds dear to her heart, and acts as a step toward creating the kind of world that she wants to live in.
Emmy Winning Lizzo’s Watch Out For the Big Grrrls
Lizzo’s Watch Out For The Big Grrrls recently won an Emmy for the 2022 Outstanding Competition Program.
The idea for the show was born when Lizzo was unable to find curvy, non-size 0 backup dancers. So, she took matters into her own hands, and decided to turn her search into a reality show.
In her Emmy acceptance speech, Lizzo reminisced about longing for media representation when she was young:
“When I was a little girl, all I wanted to see was me in the media. Someone fat like me, Black like me, beautiful like me. If I could go back and tell little Lizzo something, I’d be like, ‘You’re gonna see that person but bitch it’s gonna have to be you.”
This show hits all the notes of a reality show, with an interesting twist: no toxic, negative drama. The contestant selection is diverse, includes trans representation, and highlights touching stories.
The show’s format allows the contestants to focus on bettering themselves and their skills, as opposed to simply competing with each other. This nurtures a touching sisterhood where kindness and support are highly valued.
Lizzo develops personal relationships with the Grrrls throughout the show. They connect over how, in her words, „It’s hard to love yourself, in a world that doesn’t love you back.“
The show tackles topics of self-love and acceptance. It also highlights that fitness and health are different from physical looks:
„We don’t work out not to be big, we work out to be strong.“
Politics and Values: Lizzo Walks The Talk
Celebrities have a platform that they can, and should, use to make the world a better place. Lizzo has been very outspoken on matters of inclusive politics, the LGBTQI+ community, the Black community, and more.
She has become a celebrated inspiration for many who have been marginalized, and continue to face discrimination in their everyday lives. Lizzo inspires people to be a positive influence on the world, no matter who they are.
But, is being outspoken enough?
Speaking up is one thing, but acting to make the world a better place is another thing entirely. Lizzo is a prime example of a celebrity using their fame for good. She doesn’t wait until the award shows, or the occasional Instagram live, to let her fans know what she stands for.
Lizzo doesn’t just preach self-love and confidence: as a whole, her music drives a message of positivity and empowerment.
She has created Yitty, and Lizzo’s Watch Out For The Big Grrrls, to promote body positivity on a global scale. These endeavours have contributed to the representation of women with big, beautiful curves.
Lizzo’s activism journey started in 2012 after an anti-gay church group in the area protested the legalization of gay marriage. In response, she participated in a counter-protest. She also participated in the 2015 Black Lives Matter protests, sparked by the police killing of Jamar Clark.
In 2020, Lizzo used her Instagram platform to discuss the upcoming election with Kamala Harris. She encouraged her followers to vote, and spent the session discussing Kamala’s campaign and the topic of Black voter suppression.
When Lizzo won the People’s Champion 2022 award, she dedicated her acceptance speech to introducing on stage a diverse, all-women group of activists who inspire her. She spoke about each woman, and the cause they fight for.

It’s bad bitch o’clock, 
Yeah it’s thick thirty 
I’ve been through a lot, 
But I’m still flirty
Is everybody back up in the building, 
It’s been a minute tell me how you’re healing 
Cuz I’m about to get into my feelings 
How you feeling, how you feel right now
Oh I’ve been so down and under pressure
I’m way too fine to be this stressed yeah
Oh I’m not the girl I was or used to be 
Bitch I might be better
Turn up the music, turn down the lights
I got a feeling, I’m gonna be alright 
Okay, alright 
It’s about damn time  
Turn up the music, let’s celebrate
I got a feeling, I’m gonna be okay
Okay, alright 
It’s about damn time  
In a minute, I’m a need a, sentimental, man or woman 
To pump me up
Feeling fussy, walking in my, balenciussies, trying to bring out 
The fabulous 
Cuz I give a fuck, way too much 
I’m a need like two shots in my cup
One to get up, one to get down
Mhm, that’s how I feel right now
Oh I’ve been so down and under pressure
I’m way too fine to be this stressed yeah
Oh I’m not the girl I was or used to be 
Bitch I might be better
Turn up the music, turn down the lights
I got a feeling, I’m gonna be alright 
Okay, alright 
It’s about damn time  
Turn up the music, let’s celebrate
I got a feeling, I’m gonna be okay
Okay, alright 
It’s about damn time

Text: Tamsyn Dekenah and Winston Sussens