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About this book

Celebrated musician and entertainer Lizzo wowed audiences and left many “feeling good as hell.” Notwithstanding her collective—fat, Black female— identity she catapulted into mainstream success while redefining the social script for body size, race, and gender. This book explores a tale of two narratives: Lizzo’s self-curated, fat-positive identity and the media’s reaction to an unabashedly proud fat, Black woman. This critical analysis examines how Lizzo challenges fatphobia and reconstitutes fat stigmatization into self-empowerment through her strategic use of hyper-embodiment via social media, and the rhetorical distinctions between Lizzo’s self-curated narrative via social media and those offered about her in print media. In part, Lizzo’s bodily flaunting is argued as a significant rhetorical act that emancipates her identity of fatness and reframes the negative tropes of (fat) Black women typically curated in American culture.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Introduction

Lizzo’s Black, fat, and female flaunting is posited as a kind of visibility politics because her beingness expands the (typically negative) visual trope of large Black women in American popular culture. Pickett Miller and Platenburg question how Lizzo challenges fatphobia and reconstitutes her identity of fatness into self-empowerment through strategic use of Instagram. They also question if differences between the musician’s self-curated, fat-positive narrative and those offered about her in print media outlets exist. Their close-textual analysis intersects with studies of critical race theory, theory of self-presentation, agenda-setting theory, Black feminist thought, fat studies, media studies, and visual rhetoric. Such intersectional potential inserts Black, fat female flaunting into overlapping and disparate scholarly conversations.
Niya Pickett Miller, Gheni N. Platenburg

Chapter 2. Fat Black Female Flaunting

Lizzo’s self-articulated, fat-positive identity, and bodily flaunting are analyzed through close textual readings of (1) her Instagram (IG) posts and (2) print media features about the artist—all released during the height of her acclaimed mainstream success in 2019. Self-love (body positive and political), advocate, and fat hate resistance/rejection of politics of respectability emerged as three dominant themes in Lizzo’s IG posts during this time. Similarly, self-love (body positive), advocate, glorifying unhealthiness, and (unapologetic bad) bitch emerged as dominant themes written about the artist. Overall, the multi-textual framing (e.g., Instagram posts, media coverage) of Lizzo presents a complex, yet seemingly emancipated narrative of one fat Black female experience.
Niya Pickett Miller, Gheni N. Platenburg

Chapter 3. So What, It’s Lizzo?

Via Instagram and within print media, strategic narratives help to situate Lizzo as powerful, venerable, yet vulnerable, and forgiving. Lizzo and majority of print media present a “real” woman who happens to be fat and Black—but, more importantly, happy. This, of course, signals a slow, positive shift from outdated tropes of fatness to more modern symbols of bodily inclusion. Nonetheless, Black women are still reduced to negative media tropes. However, technological advancements (e.g., social media) have allowed Black women to speak more publicly, and unfiltered about their complex identities and experiences than ever before. This study underscores the significance and value of studying (Black) popular culture and inserting it into interdisciplinary scholarly discussions of race, gender, and otherness.
Niya Pickett Miller, Gheni N. Platenburg


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