The untold truth of Lizzo

Melissa Jefferson, the Houston-born and Minneapolis-based singer and rapper known as Lizzo, dropped her debut album Lizzobangers in 2013. But she didn't find mainstream success until 2019, with her third album Cuz I Love You — and even then, it was her two-year-old track "Truth Hurts" that became a smash hit. Lizzo is everything a record label says won't work, but her catchy, infectious music, and message of empowerment has made her a star. 

"I want to put women who look like me in the mainstream, I want that visibility and fairness," she told Vogue in 2017. "Visibility is important because it lets people know those opportunities are available. I want little girls to see me and my dancers and be like 'Hey, I can do that too.'"

How can anyone not love that? Lizzo's love of music started in the 6th grade, and she carried it to the University of Houston where she was in the marching band, and eventually started a few groups before going solo. Prince even invited her to his house to perform (via The Cut). That's a solid stamp of approval.

But what else do we know about the flute-playing rapper? You don't need to take a DNA test to find out more of the untold truth of Lizzo.

Body-positivity comes naturally to Lizzo

In an in-depth profile in The Cut, Lizzo discussed her prominence as a body-positive artist. Per the article, "every slogan of every positivity movement had been slapped on" Lizzo before her record deal with Atlantic. She's totally fine with that assertion, but claimed it wasn't "a label" she wanted to put on herself. 

"It's just my existence," she told the outlet, adding, "All these f***ing hashtags to convince people that the way you look is fine. Isn't that f***ing crazy? I say I love myself, and they're like, 'Oh my gosh, she's so brave. She's so political.' For what? All I said is 'I love myself, b***h!'"

"Even when body positivity is over, it's not like I'm going to be a thin white woman. I'm going to be black and fat," she continued. "That's just hopping on a trend and expecting people to blindly love themselves. That's fake love. I'm trying to figure out how to actually live it."

Yes, Lizzo really is a classically trained flutist

Lizzo was in the marching band from 8th grade through her time at the University of Houston, where she majored in classical flute. "I was a piccolo player. I was the baddest piccolo in the land, 'cause I got big lungs. And I was really determined," she told NPR in 2016.

Although you can experience the Minnesota phenom "h* and flute" at any time, many somehow still believe Lizzo fakes her performances because she doesn't look like the stereotypical flutist or marching band member. With an Instagram video caption that read, "PSA for the weirdos that think I have the TIME to fabricate a flute back-story, RENT a flute to tour with and PRETEND to play. B***h, I'm a full time artist. I been on this flute sh*t, read my old interviews h*! Enjoy this F natural," Lizzo set the record straight.

"Okay so I just saw there are people who are, you know, doubting that I'm a classically trained flutist, all these videos are fake, we got people doubtin' me," she said in the video. "Imma celebrate by putting my flute together and actually blowing notes out of it, so you h*s can shut the f**k up. This is Sasha flute. This is an open-hole C flute, a Muramatsu, look at the B foot. Wow, she knows a lot about flutes! Guess she didn't study it in college." She then played her favorite note: "F. F**K Y'ALL."

A Netflix show gave Lizzo a hit

The summer of 2019 is officially the Summer of Lizzo. While the infectious "Juice" off her 2019 album Cuz I Love You is tearing up the airwaves, it was a song she released in 2017 that proved to be her biggest hit two years later. And she has the Netflix romantic comedy Something Great to thank.

According to Genius, actresses Gina Rodriguez and DeWanda Wise dancing along to "Truth Hurts" early in the film made the song's popularity explode. "'Truth Hurts' earned just over 14,000 total pageviews on Genius from its release on September 17, 2017 until April 14, the day before the release of Someone Great," the song lyrics site said. However, after the film premiered, those numbers jumped exponentially. 

"One-day pageviews on the site rose from 356 on April 14 to more than 5,000 the next day," the site continued. "On April 21, 'Truth Hurts' racked up over 9,000 daily pageviews for the first time, and it has now earned over 500,000 pageviews since the film's release."

Lizzo accused a security guard of racism

After her performance at Milwaukee's Summerfest in 2019, Lizzo called out a festival security guard on Twitter as a "racist bigot" who allegedly "slapped and manhandled [her] hair stylist and stylist" (via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). That tweet and video have since been deleted, but in another tweet, she addressed the incident and asked fans for their help. "Did anybody get footage of the security guard that tackled and attacked my team @Summerfest," the "Truth Hurts" singer tweeted. "They slapped and manhandled my hair stylist and stylist and I'm out for blood." 

In another tweet, Lizzo stated she was "filing a complaint" against the guard and asked Summerfest to be "cooperative in seeking justice." The event issued a response the following morning. "Lizzo gave an incredible performance which she now feels is tarnished by events which occurred during the performance. We do not tolerate racism in any form. We will conduct a thorough investigation," the Twitter statement read. "We have an experienced crowd management staff who strive to protect performers & fans. While there may be challenges during a performance, we expect those challenges to be handled professionally & respectfully. If those standards were not met, we will take appropriate action."

"Friendly reminder that you don't have to say the 'n word' to be racist. That's not the sole requirement. Asking people to prove racism is another tool the oppressor uses to marginalize and discredit us," Lizzo tweeted after Summerfest's statement.

Lizzo uses social media to help her mental health

You'd think "social media" and "mental health" would be in the same sentence as a warning, but in a 2019 interview with Vogue, Lizzo admitted that while working through her issues on social media is "backwards as f**k," it shows her that "it's okay to reach out."

"I'm a TMI person on the Internet. In the past, I've talked about mental health. The only difference now is that there are way more eyes on me when I'm talking about it," she told the outlet. "It's important for my artistry — my emotional depth and honesty. I'm living my truth in my music. I'm living that truth onstage. Why wouldn't I live that truth on social media? I also needed to do it personally because it's hard for me to reach out. But by doing so on social media, I teach myself to confide in the people closest to me."

However, Lizzo also understands that online "can be a really hateful place with lots of evil and toxicity," but she's more concerned with her "community of people" who are "lifting each other up." She added: "I love having this open line of communication. I love showing that you can create at your rock bottom and [utilize] a personal growth moment. It's like, let me make this 'mistake' right now and learn something about myself in the open. It's a very therapeutic and loving relationship."

How Lizzo learned to love self-care and 'feel-good music'

In a 2018 interview with The New York Times hours before her MoMA PS1 Warm Up performance, Lizzo discussed the importance of self-care and how she hopes her music allows others to love and accept themselves. As the article points out, "her musical catalog celebrates diversity in all forms: body (in 'Fitness'), sexuality ('Boys'), race ('My Skin')" along with "a lesson in confidence in 'Truth Hurts.'" Lizzo explained: "I made a commitment to feel-good music. I had to show my belly a lot of attention, a lot of love."

Lizzo revealed that she used to Saran Wrap her torso and feet to make them appear smaller, but now she has a message for her past self: "I would tell her, 'You know what girl? I'm going to let you finish because everything you're doing right now is going to create the person I am today. I don't want you to change who you are, because I think the struggle is what makes me special.'"

"I had to really look myself in the mirror and say, this is it," she explained. "This is the person I am going to be for the rest of my life and it is not going to change," Lizzo said. "I think when you face yourself it is really hard, because you're immediately facing the things you don't like."

The LGBTQ+ community has a solid ally in Lizzo

"Pride is not just a holiday," Lizzo told the crowd during her set at the 2019 Pride concert in New York City (via Variety). "It's a lifestyle. When I look outside and we see all the celebrations going on, I didn't see this when I was growing up. This is progress. You should all be proud."

Lizzo, who claims she "[leans] heterosexual," sat down with Variety and was asked if she had a message for the LGBT community. "They got their message. The message is loud and clear. It's called Pride, not hide," she explained. "Everybody, more than ever, is wearing their hearts on their sleeves and wearing their messages on their backs. I think we all know what's up. We all can feel it right now. It's time to represent and it's time to persist and keep going. There's progress to be made and we're moving forward."

Although she is straight, the "Juice" singer thinks "it's unfair to the human existence to limit the spectrum of what you're capable of sexually." She added, "There are so many more wonderful letters to add to the spectrum. In the future, we're going to be like, 'This binary box we were put in was really restricting.'"

LIzzo's film debut is a Jennifer Lopez movie

In 2019, Variety reported that Lizzo would join Jennifer Lopez, Cardi B, and Constance Wu in the "stripper-themed film" Hustlers. Here is the official synopsis (via IMDb): "Inspired by the viral New York Magazine article, Hustlers follows a crew of savvy former strip club employees who band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients."

Speaking with IndieWire, director Lorene Scafaria explained her decision to cast Lizzo and Cardi B instead of traditional actors. "I was chasing Cardi before there was a movie, it was like two years of chasing Cardi on Instagram," she said. "I was chasing Lizzo for like a year as well. Both of them are people that I was only dreaming would be in the movie. Of course, my job is made easier when Jennifer Lopez is starring in something and absolutely everybody wants to work with her, so that was my luck there."

"I think musicians and singers, performers, they're just naturally very great at timing and rhythm and they just kind of are natural-born actors," she continued. "Lizzo, she comes with so much personality, Cardi comes with so much personality. I wanted to write them characters that showed off their personalities, but I also wanted to make sure that they still felt like they were part of the world and part of the ensemble and that nobody's sticking out and everybody is still existing in the same movie."