Lizzo was tired of all her dancers being a size zero, and when her team couldn't get their hands on performers that were more in line with her vision, she took it into her own hands. The multi-platinum musical artist was gearing up for her 2022 world tour, and as a thick girl who advocates for body positivity, she wanted to keep that same energy on stage.
The result is Watch Out For The Big Grrrls, a reality tv show on Amazon Prime where thirteen curvy queens were chosen out of hundreds from across the United States for a chance to join Lizzo on tour.
Not only is the singer illuminating the unfair dynamics in the dance world, she’s also using her platform to speak to the women on the other side of the screen, helping audience members find their self-worth and heal the deep-rooted wounds that come with body shaming.
I’m one of them.
As someone who is a sucker for practically any competitive reality tv series, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself laughing, crying, and cheering on these women as they moved through the series with such prowess. It evoked a deeper stirring within me, and I realized I was thinking about how I was experiencing my own postpartum body.
As Lizzo hyped up the dancers during their initial tryouts, I watched each one bring their full energy forward, hitting every move, commanding every step, and serving face like their life depended on it.
It was in this moment, just one episode in, that I asked myself, “When was the last time I fully owned my body like this?”
The contestant line-up also had incredibly diverse representation, including a Tik-Toker who went viral for her body positivity content, a transgender dancer, and a woman who didn’t take up dance professionally until her mid 30’s. The cast is also ethnically colorful, with each background presenting its own cultural hardships, like Isabelle, who has struggled with her Korean family’s expectations of an acceptable career.
While the “Truth Hurts” singer isn’t the first celebrity to get her own reality show, but she might be the first to approach one with competition as a backdrop, not the main event. In the second episode fans see early on that Lizzo’s main priority is the contestants’ emotional wellbeing, presenting them with a weekly award system. “The Juice,” which recognizes the dancer who “has the heart,” shows they’re growing individually each week, not just learning the steps. The second award, “100% That B*tch,” goes to the dancer who nails choreo, brings the personality, and is professional during that week’s challenge.
Right off the bat, Lizzo creates a safe space for the dancers, setting the tone that perfection isn’t everything, effort is vital, and the journey is what’s most important. This security extends like a blanket over to viewers like me, who felt they were already a part of a sisterhood ready to lift each other up — not tear each other down for the sake of competition.
What really filled my cup was the various self-reflection exercises Lizzo provided the women (and she even joined some herself).
In episode three, Lizzo sets the girls up with a sensual body class with the series director, Nneka Onuorah, where she breaks down about the backlash she gets from embracing her body, saying, “The world [doesn’t] want big girls to be sexy. They don’t want us to be happy, and that’s why this show is so important to me because it's hard to love yourself in a world that doesn’t love you back.”
There wasn’t a dry eye in the room when Lizzo goes on to say that she wants the girls to “believe in their sexy, because it's going to inspire so many people, and shut down so many f*cking haters.”
At this point, I was not okay.
This was just one of the many instances where I was in awe of these women not only for baring themselves emotionally and physically but for being absolutely unapologetic about it. This wasn't a pity party or a self-hate fest, it was women believing in themselves and their bodies unabashedly. It was also the first time, in my new mom body, where I felt completely understood.
I cried with them when they faced their fears of being photographed naked and felt empowered when they gasped at the pictures. I was proud of them when they (literally) smashed through glass barriers branded with phrases they were ready to leave behind and snapped my fingers when they nailed routines.
And when they hit that final stage at Bonnaroo, I was hollering at my screen because they accomplished what they set out to do. And in a lot of ways, I did too.
In every outfit revealing stretch marks, cellulite, rolls, and curves, I gained a newer appreciation of mine. Ensembles I once would consider being too provocative on my thick shape became just straight-up sexy, and I found myself excited to go shopping for the first time in three years.
Lizzo didn’t just give amateur dancers the chance to make it big, she brought my sexy back.