Lizzo is sharing her journey of self-acceptance and pop stardom.
The star spoke with Elle UK for their September cover story about what it was like struggling as a musician when there were rarely mainstream artists with her body type.
“I know people want to look like me now. But I’m talking about what it was like in my formative years. I wasn’t really set up to believe that I was desirable,” she recalled. “For me, being a pop star – part of it is, people either want to be you or be with you. And I didn’t feel like I had any of those qualities.”
In fact, growing up, she didn’t have any musicians like her to model herself after.
“Nearly every star I saw onstage was thinner and light-skinned. And they didn’t look like me. Sure, there were women like Missy Elliott and Queen Latifah. But they were the exception to the rule,” said Lizzo. “And so I always felt like, even if the song is great, people wouldn’t want to hear it coming from me. So I thought, If I have other people onstage, too, that will take the focus off me a little bit.”
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In the formative years of her career, she was part of the girl groups the Chalice and Grrrl Prty, as it was the music of Destiny’s Child and Beyoncé that inspired her to join the industry.
“Growing up in Houston, the impact that Destiny’s Child had on me making a decision to become an artist was incredible, mostly because I felt like we were so close to it. Everyone had their, ‘I saw Beyoncé when…’ or, ‘I saw Destiny’s Child at this party…’ stories. And that made it seem more accessible,” the musician shared. “Like, ‘Oh, maybe I can do this too, if I worked hard enough and had the right people around me.’”
Beyonce’s solo work, in particular, helped Lizzo understand the shape she wanted her music to take as her career flourished. Prior to the interview, the former Destiny’s Child singer had just announced a new album.
“That excitement never goes away. She doesn’t just put out music for the sake of putting out music – there’s going to be something real, you know what I mean?” Lizzo gushed. “A teachable moment. Every time I hear her, it’s like, ‘Man, I want to make people feel this way. How can I make people feel this way, too?'”
Inspired by her work, Lizzo always made sure that her music spoke to her and she was sharing her own message, despite outside pressure for success and accolades.
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“It’s a very peaceful place for me to be in now because I feel like all my projects before this were not in pursuit of fame, but in pursuit of telling my story, and finding my voice and then, eventually, helping people,” she explained.
“I have so many songs at this point, some that are my favourite I’ve ever written. But I’m not putting them on the album if they don’t serve the greater purpose. And I think the greater purpose is: What do I need to say right now that can help people forever?”
One of the ways she’s also focused on helping people beyond her music, is with her new shapewear line Yitty, which is meant to accommodate a wider range of body types than typical brands.
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“I’ve had a lot of shoots with people making outfits from scratch for me. And I’m not mad at it. Thank you. But what about the millions of people who are my size or bigger who can’t get access to chic and glamorous clothing?” said Lizzo. “I don’t want to be the token big girl for the fashion world. I want to open the door. I want this for everybody.”
The September issue of ELLE UK is on sale from July 28.