The salacious lawsuit filed against mega pop star Lizzo by several of her backup dancers is not only ironic, but it’s also a reminder that our identities should be defined by personal character, not by how many oppression boxes we check. In the lawsuit filed last week, the former backup dancers accused the singer of body shaming and pressuring them to perform grotesque sexual acts at an Amsterdam strip club.
Lizzo — the woman who built her brand around being an obese, anti-bullying, vaguely LGBT, racial minority — is accused of actually being a fatphobic, sexually harassing bully. It’s ironic because Lizzo has personally made her weight a focal point of her public persona. She has publicly proclaimed “I like being fat” and dubbed herself a “body icon.”
You might wonder why Lizzo, a popular pop star, would want to proclaim herself a “body icon” instead of a “music icon.” But when people like fitness influencer Jillian Michaels point that out, Lizzo and her fans recoil because, according to contemporary culture, Lizzo’s weight is intrinsically tied to Lizzo. It’s who she is, not merely an accidental characteristic.
Obesity is part of the intersectional coalition of our society’s protected classes, among which are black, Hispanic, indigenous, and LGBT people. That’s why Lizzo and other overweight individuals appear proud of their obesity — a debilitating condition that can cause heart disease, diabetes, depression, and early death, among other problems.
To be someone of importance in modern society, one has to be able to demonstrate a level of oppression. As a result, Lizzo is constantly reminding us of her race, weight, and supposed LGBT status (she claims to have a nonconforming sexual orientation even though she “lean[s] heterosexual”).
But the allegations against Lizzo, whether they are true or not, serve as a good reminder that all the victimhood boxes Lizzo checks have no bearing on her personal character. Identity politics emphasizes meaningless group associations based on physical attributes and nonsense concepts like “gender identity” over the individual. Lizzo’s weight and race tell us zilch about who she is as a person. The latter is the real standard we should judge her by, instead of her membership in identity groups.
The real-world implementations of identity politics are always destructive — just look at affirmative action policies in schools and the workplace. Universities, which will continue to use racist admissions metrics despite the recent Supreme Court ruling that struck down affirmative action, claim that racial diversity promotes a diversity of opinions and experiences in the classroom. In reality, black, white, and brown people all have widely varied experiences and accomplishments that are completely distinct from their skin color.
Identity politics doesn’t only hurt society, it also hurts individuals. Just as Lizzo presents her weight as an integral part of her identity, we are similarly told that a person suffering from gender dysphoria is transgender. According to identity politics, gender dysphoric people don’t have a mental illness, their transgender identity is simply who they are and must therefore be affirmed.
Christianity has a different perspective. In Christ, things like your weight or claimed “gender identity” don’t define you or quantify your value. Obesity is not a badge of honor, but a human struggle, and instead of letting a sin like gluttony define you, Christ beckons you to overcome it through Him.
As for the racial “intersectional” groups, in Christ, they are simply inconsequential. God does not look at Lizzo as a member of the “black community” any more than the “fat community” — He sees her for who she is, Melissa Viviane Jefferson (Lizzo’s real name), whom He created.
Ultimately, the divisive, poisonous intersectional labels that Lizzo clings to have nothing to do with the state of her soul or her personal character. Likewise, our membership or non-membership in said groups won’t tell each of us anything about ourselves.
It makes sense that a society that has lost its Christian identity would scramble to find identity in something else. Filling that void with identity politics, however, will only lead to turmoil.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.” (1 John 3:1, NIV)