Lizzo: 'I take self-love very seriously'

Lizzo played the Olympia last year

Barry Egan

'What the World Needs Now Is More Lizzo'. That was the headline of Lizzo's Elle interview last year when the magazine put her on the cover of its Women In Music issue. The hip hop iconoclast who played a sold-out show in Dublin's Olympia last November (for what it's worth, Leo Varadkar named it his gig of the year) is the high priestess of body positivity and self-love.

On Soulmate, from Lizzo's storming debut album Cuz I Love You, released last year, she sang: "And she never tell me to exercise/We always get extra fries/And you know the sex is fire/I get flowers every Sunday/I'mma marry me one day."

"I take self-love very seriously. And I take it seriously because when I was younger, I wanted to change everything about myself," Lizzo told Elle magazine last October. I didn't love who I was. And the reason I didn't love who I was is because I was told I wasn't lovable by the media, by [people at] school, by not seeing myself in beauty ads, by not seeing myself in lack of representation. My self-hatred got so bad that I was fantasising about being other people."

When Time magazine put her on its cover and made her the prestigious Entertainer Of The Year 2019, Lizzo said of her far-from-overnight arrival into the establishment: "I've been doing positive music for a long-ass time. Then the culture changed. There were a lot of things that weren't popular but existed, like body positivity, which at first was a form of protest for fat bodies and black women and has now become a trendy, commercialised thing. Now I've seen it reach the mainstream."

It has been a long journey for Lizzo, born Melissa Jefferson in Detroit and brought up in Houston. She dropped out of college and lived in her Subaru for six months. She told CBS This Morning: "I spent Thanksgiving in that car, and I remember I cried myself to sleep."

In an interview with NPR, Lizzo remembered that she had an "epiphany that this was it. I think I was like, 21, because that was the worst year of my life thus far. My father passed away, I was homeless, I didn't have any money, my band was doing really badly and I was by myself. I hadn't been eating because I didn't have money, and I was honestly the smallest physically I'd ever been - and still, that was the worst I'd ever felt about myself."

In 2017, Lizzo was on the verge of packing it all in. "I was crying in my room all day. I said, 'If I stop making music now, nobody would f**king care'."

Mercifully, for discerning music fans the world over, Lizzo decided to keep going. Last month at the Grammys, she won Best Pop Solo Performance for Truth Hurts - beating fellow nominees Billie Eilish (Bad Guy), Beyoncé (Spirit), Taylor Swift (You Need To Calm Down), and Ariana Grande (7 Rings). She is about to set the planet on fire with her burning brilliance, her trailblazing talent, her bravery.

The message is clear: what the world needs right now is more Lizzo, more female empowerment, more body positivity.