Lizzo began trending on Twitter Tuesday, catching flak online for undergoing a juice cleanse that provoked criticism the body-positivity singer is “promoting diet culture.”
On Monday, the Grammy-winner posted a video on Instagram that she was doing a detox based on a 10-day plan from New York Times best-selling author and weight-loss nutritionist JJ Smith.
Lizzo re-assured her followers however, she wasn’t participating to lose weight.
“So I did the 10-day smoothie detox and as you know I would normally be so afraid and ashamed to post things like this online because I feel like as a big girl people just expect if you are doing something for health you’re doing it for like a dramatic weight loss,” Lizzo said in a follow-up video. “And that is not the case.”
The decision however, still caught the ire of fans upset that the celebrity pursued choices to protect her own health.
“Seeing you promote diet culture is breaking my heart,” one user wrote in response to Lizzo discussing that the cleanse has made her feel exponentially better, revealing she chose to do it following a stressful month in November where she persistently drank and ate spicy foods making her feel stomach feel uneasy and off balance.
“My sleep has improved (and), my hydration, my mental stability, my skin”.
“Every big girl should do whatever the fuck they want to with THEIR bodies.” – Lizzo
— _NickRyan_ (@_nickryan_) December 15, 2020
Others said they felt “betrayed.”
Lizzo doesn’t owe us anything and she’s absolutely free to do whatever she wants.
I think the disappointment lies in a lot of us (especially fat, black women) seeing ourselves in a woman who was so proud and confident in her body.
It made us want to do the same to ours.
— Steph (@StephanieYeboah) December 14, 2020
The pop-chart leader has a platform with millions of followers, and Lizzo’s active promotion of a healthy choices is something a nation struggling with an obesity epidemic, even worse than the ongoing COVID crisis, needs more of.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 42 percent of Americans qualified as “obese” in 2017-2018, a category often responsible as the root cause for conditions leading to premature death such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.
By serving as the underlying cause for conditions known to heighten risk of severe complications from COVID-19, the obesity epidemic has already exacerbated the coronavirus pandemic. Several studies conducted this year further show that obesity itself raises individuals’ risk profiles to suffering a severe infection.
“Since the pandemic began,” Science Magazine reported, “dozens of studies have reported that many of the sickest COVID-19 patients have been people with obesity.” The magazine pointed to one study published in August finding that overweight patients who contracted COVID-19 were 113 percent more likely to land in the hospital than patients of an otherwise healthy weight. Obese patients were also 74 percent more likely to be admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) and 48 percent more likely to die.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), at least 2.8 million deaths every year can be attributed to being overweight or obese. As of this writing, the novel Wuhan coronavirus has killed less than 1.7 million since last year, a number which would no doubt be lower absent the obesity crisis.
The 21st-century pandemic has illustrated countless vulnerabilities in the modern world, from fragile economic partnerships to government incompetence. The modern pandemic has also exposed the greater consequences of an obesity epidemic, making the potential for Lizzo’s activism in this space all the more important.
As this week illustrates however, the increasing fragility of our modern culture has erased the distinction between body-shaming and advocacy of a healthy lifestyle, the latter of which is desperately needed from influencers becoming rich and famous rejecting both with feel-good activism. It might be well-meaning, but it’s counterproductive, and even detrimental.
Few episodes were more emblematic of this new cultural phenomenon emanating from the left than when fitness icon Jillian Michaels caught fire early this year for insisting Lizzo be celebrated for the pop-star’s music rather than her weight.
“Why are celebrating her body? Why does it matter? That’s what I’m saying. Like, why aren’t we celebrating her music? ‘Cause, it isn’t going to be awesome if she gets diabetes. I’m just being honest,” said Michaels on a BuzzFeed-produced talk show. “I love her music. My kids love her music. There’s never a moment where I’m like ‘I’m so glad she’s overweight!’ Like, why do I even care?”
.@JillianMichaels on Lizzo: "Why are we celebrating her body? Why does it matter? Why aren't we celebrating her music? 'Cause it isn't gonna be awesome if she gets diabetes." pic.twitter.com/FkKBd8J87b
— AM2DM by BuzzFeed News (@AM2DM) January 8, 2020
Michaels issued a statement of her own on Instagram, doubling down on her opposition to body shaming while standing by her life-long commitment to promoting healthy living despite the mob conflating both.