The Lizzo brand is built on audacity and power. She’s created an empire around a message of body and sex positivity while donning revealing and jaw-dropping outfits. It may therefore come as a surprise to learn that Lizzo’s beginnings were marked by a strict religious upbringing. As you can imagine, her family members who maintain this worldview don’t always approve of Lizzo’s public antics.
Lizzo grew up nun
Lizzo was born Melissa Viviane Jefferson in 1988 in Detroit, Michigan. Her family was members of the Pentecostal church, she told Teen Vogue. And it wasn’t until she moved to Texas at age 9 that Lizzo began to be exposed to more contemporary pop artists.
From an early age, Lizzo focused on the flute. But by the time she was a teenager, she started rapping and formed a music group. After high school, Lizzo embarked on a career as a classical flutist. She was well on her way to hitting concert halls when she made the difficult decision to drop out of college in her freshman year and pursue a performing career as a singer.
After her father’s death, Lizzo moved to Minneapolis in 2011. Her debut album was released a few years later, and her career skyrocketed in 2019.
Lizzo admits she upset some religious members of her family
Speaking to James Corden during a “Carpool Karaoke” segment, Lizzo reflected on how her path has diverged since the early days of her Pentecostal upbringing.
“When you have that faith, it’s strict with what kind of music you listen to. We didn’t listen to secular music. It was ‘evil music,'” Lizzo recalls. When Corden asks if his own successes would have been allowed in her childhood home, Lizzo quickly replies that they wouldn’t be, “At first Lizzo, yes. But when Lizzo started swearing, no! she laughed.”
“I pissed off a few family members,” Lizzo added. When Corden asked if it was because she swore too much, she shared another possible reason. “Maybe it’s a bit of nudity.” One cousin in particular will frequently call Lizzo’s mom and say, “Tell Melissa to put some clothes on!”
Lizzo embraced her individuality without shame
Aside from the miffed family members, Lizzo has definitely embraced a lifestyle that’s unapologetically open and full of self-love. She also remains committed to bringing a message of acceptance and tolerance to her fans. In fact, Lizzo has made herself something of an ambassador and educator for body acceptance and living loud and proud.
Lizzo even did a TEDTalk on the history of twerking. She relates this story to her transition from self-loathing to self-love: “My ass has been the talk of the town, my ass has been in magazines, Rihanna gave me a standing ovation. Yes, my booty! My least favorite part of my body. How did it happen? Twerk. Through the twerking motion, I realized that my ass is my greatest asset. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to my TED Twerk.
Tracing the roots of the art form back to its African origins, Lizzo connects twerking to sexual liberation and a long history of fighting for freedom.
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