One of my favorite pre-pandemic memories is seeing Lizzo in concert twice in one year. One was in a small, packed venue so close to the star that she was basically sweating on me. I’m not religious but when I say it was a religious experience, I’m not kidding. Her talent, her energy—it made me emotional more than once. Seeing her on Zoom yesterday during an event with Dove brought me right back to that inspirational moment. Lizzo also posted a gorgeous unedited nude photo on Instagram announcing her partnership with Dove.
Lizzo is working with the brand on its Dove Self-Esteem Project and The Selfie Talk campaign. They’re taking on digital distortion on social media, the way many blue their skin and edit their body into the standard idea of beauty. Dove’s study found that by age 13, 80 percent of girls have edited their photos before posting them. That just shows you what the self-esteem of young women is like right now.
“The scary thing about it is when I was their age, the girls now who are like 12, 13, I felt the same way,” said Lizzo. “I remember waking up and wanting to be someone else, change my body, changed my eye color, my hair texture, the shape of my body, the color of my skin. But I didn’t have photo retouching, I didn’t have filters or anything like that. So that feeling was already there, and it scares me to think that now there is a tool that actually cashes in on that insecurity.”
Folks on TikTok and Instagram constantly ask Lizzo how she’s so confident. For her, there was no other option. “It was no choice for me. It was literal survival,” she said. “I was like, if I’m going to continue to live in this body and survive in this body and be happy and actually enjoy life, I need to find a way to like myself.”
“It’s not a political statement. It’s just my body,” she continued. “When you see it, keep it pushing. Keep that same energy that you keep with all the other bodies you see. That’s what body normative really means to me, it’s just being like, ‘I’m here, don’t say anything. Just keep it pushing.’ It’s not a statement, it’s my body.”
Dove’s study also found that there is a direct relationship between social media appearance pressures and self-esteem. Girls with lower body esteem distorted their photos more (56 percent) than girls with high body esteem (42 percent). Plus, the more girls edited their photos, the lower their self-esteem got. A whopping 68 percent of girls said they “would not end up feeling judged on the way they look” if images on social media were more representative of the way girls look in everyday life.
That’s why Lizzo posting such a beautiful, honest, unedited photo is so important. “Black joy is important, Black celebration,” she said. “And that’s what I want to do right now, just celebrate myself, celebrate my blackness and my body and have a positive conversation that will bring some change.”
Head over to Dove’s website to learn more about the campaign.