December 9, 2023

So this past Sunday (Nov. 17), the 2019 BET Soul Train Music Awards commenced in Las Vegas and Lizzo won the coveted Album of the Year for Cuz I Love You.

You know who didn’t win? Four other people’s albums, and Ari Lennox‘s Shea Butter Baby.

And Ari is HURT over it—understandably so. Ari was nominated for three awards and didn’t win ONE. And like most millennials she expressed her frustrations on Twitter, saying “Being snubbed was something I always expected and was definitely prepared for just not by [the Soul Train Music Awards].”

She even went so far as to say that she’s QUITTING music. And with that, all the Twitter fingers ran amok… against LIZZO.

**deep sigh**

Personally, there’s no question that Ari Lennox got snubbed this year. She should’ve won SOMEthing. But she would’ve been snubbed regardless of who would’ve won that award. So I don’t want to spend time on whether Ari should’ve won ANYthing on Sunday night, because my point of contention is with those who don’t think Lizzo belongs in the soul music space at all. 

Or ANYwhere, for that matter.

Here’s the thing about Lizzo that y’all might not recognize or acknowledge: she is everything. She’s not necessarily everything to ME (although I DO luh me some her), but she IS Every. Thing. Yes, she is pop, but she is also jazz. She is dance. She is R&B. She is rap. And yes, she is soul. Cuz I Love You covered it all, because Lizzo herself is ALL of it. 

Image Source: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Don’t believe me? Lizzo is also nominated for EIGHT Grammys this year, including Best Traditional R&B Performance, Best Pop Solo Performance, AND Album of the year. And if you actually listened to the ENTIRE album instead of just the radio singles, just maybe you’d be able to understand Soul Train’s (and now the Grammy’s) decision-making process in giving her that award.

Here’s another thing about Lizzo that you DO recognize but don’t want to discuss: she’s fat.

I said it that way because (1) although I personally refer to myself as “#FluffyFit,” I too, am fat and I feel like I have license to say it that bluntly, and (2) it’s my belief that the word “fat” and all its connotations is the subconscious rationale behind why a lot of y’all don’t like her. 

Image Source: Getty / Jim Dyson

Because you know who else was nominated and won at the Soul Train Awards and is also EVERY. THING. in their own right? Chris Brown. Cardi B. Beyoncé. Drake.

Left to Right: Chris Brown, Cardi B, Beyoncé, Drake

You know who is NOT complaining about THOSE not-bonafide-soul-singing winners and trying to tear people down with their Twitter Fingers? Y’ALL.

Lizzo has the audacity to be comfortable in her fat body AND be amazing at her craft, and y’all truly can’t stand it. And what’s really messed up is that it took YEARS of an entire social movement focused on GENERAL body positivity for her to be in JUST 2019’s spotlight for a talent she’s been honing for at least a decade. 

Image Source: NPR

In my own world, I know what it’s like to be a full-figured, well-rounded fat chick. That age old mantra of Blacks having to be twice as good as our white counterparts rings twice as true when you’re a fat Black chick. We gotta DOUBLE our femininity to be recognized as a woman (see: Gabourey Sibide), and TRIPLE it if we want romance. 

In the workplace, we have to OVERexert ourselves to the nth degree if we don’t want the “fat and lazy” trope to drag us down, and UNDEReat to avoid yet another diet conversation from a “concerned” colleague. 

And in OUR community, we’re just TOO fat for the simple “Black and Beautiful” movement. Our #BlackGirlMagic is too large for that hashtag. Real women DO have curves, but they better look like a figure-8, otherwise get ready for the onslaught of EVERY fatphobic insult you can imagine. 

Us fat Black women HAVE to be EVERYthing in order to be recognized as ANYthing. But at the end of the day we usually receive nothing, because no one wants to acknowledge the multifaceted, everything-to-everybody elephant(s) in the room.

And if you think that Lizzo is the only super-talented fat Black woman who’s going through this/has gone through something similar, I also present to you Queen Latifah, Amber Riley, and Danielle Brooks (and damn-near EVERY fat Black woman in Orange Is the New Black).

Left to Right: Danielle Brooks, Queen Latifah, Amber Riley

Granted, by NO means am I discrediting the many obstacles non-fat Black women go through; it goes without saying that Black women as a collective are mistreated. But as one who has experienced it, the disdain and vitriolic behavior toward fat Black women just hits different. 

I’m not saying that you HAVE to like Lizzo; but at the very least, be honest with yourself and recognize that when it comes to entertainment, your thinner faves are doing the EXACT same thing. She won an award from an entity that celebrates soul music… because she has soul. Because her ALBUM was soulful. Because she is TALENTED. She just happens to be fat.

So go pick on someone your own size.

Kellye Beathea, J.D. is a proud [DM]V native who gets paid to turn dense, industry-specific jargon into reader-friendly content. She prides herself in being a full-bodied sommelier of wine and sensibility, a die-hard lover of law, politics, & culture, a ravenous connoisseur of common sense, and a bastion of #BlackGirlMagic. 

You can find her on Facebook and Instagram @KellyeConsulting.

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