As a child, Lizzo idolised Matilda, the little girl who uses her special powers to overcome her bullies in Roald Dahl’s revered children’s book. Now 31, Lizzo has developed some special powers of her own. That powerful stage presence belies the anxiety the singer, rapper and classically-trained flautist has spoken about candidly,
“When I get really, really anxious before a show, I just go harder and harder and harder when I’m performing and I just go crazy.
I don’t know why, but my anxiety sometimes fuels who I am as a performer and who I am as an artist – and I know that is not the case for everyone. I don’t know if my body just, like, out of a desperate need to find a place for my anxiety or find a use for it, takes it and puts it there.”
Although Lizzo’s rise seems stratospheric, her breakthrough was preceded by years of hard graft – all of which, she says, made her a better artist.
“I became a good singer touring as a rapper. All of the things that I would rap would turn into melodies and they would get real soulful and punchy.” Honing that voice took time, practice, and plenty of Beyoncé vocal runs. “It was not a secret ace card in the pack, it was a tool that I was finely tuning and shaping.”
It seems global stardom has come at the right time for Lizzo.
“I think if I was 21 right now, I would not be able to maintain this lifestyle without having major anxiety and panic attacks. But thank God, my journey is all about self-care and finding that love for yourself and nurturing yourself. Because that’s what artists need more than anything.”
I would watch things on television and I would look at magazines and I would not see myself. When you don’t see yourself, you start to think something’s wrong with you. Then you want to look like those things and when you realise it’s a physical impossibility, you start to think, ‘What the fuck is wrong with me?’ I think that took a greater toll on me, psychologically, growing up than what anyone could have said to me.”
Now, Lizzo revels in embracing exactly who she is, and encourages her fans to do the same, but she’s cautious about certain aspects of the “body positive” label.
“Anybody that uses body positivity to sell something is using it for their personal gain. That’s just it.
We weren’t selling anything in the beginning. We were just selling ourselves and selling ourselves on the idea – selling ourselves on ourselves, you know?
I’m not trying to sell you me. I’m trying to sell you, you.”
#ConDRAGulations, Lizzo. We bought it!
Check out the rest of the latest issue of Vogue UK, where Lizzo shares one of two covers with Emma Watson.
OH MY GOD VOGUE MAMA YOU LOOK AMAZING!!!!!!— ♡ambrrr ☃️❄️♡ (@mbrleigh) November 7, 2019
(Photograph, Kloss Films; via Vogue UK)