After the emotionally draining news that we all received last week, in addition to dealing with a global pandemic, Erykah Badu and Jill Scott‘s highly anticipated Verzuz battle seemed more like the two women hosting a much-needed healing session more than a battle.
Breaking records as both the first female Verzuz battle and for views, after the event, on Instagram Live had more than 700,000 fans watching and scored an eye-popping 1 BILLION impressions on the social media platform. Viewers including Michelle Obama, D-Nice, and Common praised the women for their sisterhood, mutual admiration, and of course, their music; but the unity was short-lived after surly fans took to Twitter the next day to discuss the comparison between the treatment of Jill Scott and Lizzo for their size.
While many of the comments were unnecessary and repulsive, there were many more in support of the differentiating treatment between the two rationalizing it with excuses including “Jill earned her spot” and even saying that the comparison disqualifies the claim of “fatshaming” from the conversation.
Despite both sides using the same examples to represent a different side of the same argument, the reality is the entire argument proves our own hate for big Black women. Both men and women seemingly have a twisted view of how they see a BBW. While many think that fetishizing makes them an ally, it’s not because it still bases your view of how you see that person on their size proving that your love is based out of what you can control.
Let me explain.
On one side of the argument, you have men and women who are using the debate to excuse their vile responses or reactions to Lizzo by grouping her with Jill Scott (not only calling her “fat”)as if to say anyone over a size 10 is “one of those”, you know-fat.
Then on the other side, you have people using the debate to excuse their own insecurities with their weight meaning they are trying to dissect what is or isn’t a BBW based on their weight goals. Those are the ones who like to tell BBWs how to operate and maneuver in life, what clothes to wear, and what behavior is and isn’t acceptable. In addition, this point of view also has those who fetishize about BBWs and may even sleep with them but always keeps it private. Let’s not forget Twitter’s response when Jill Scott was a victim in the viral hacking that hit a slew of celebrities whose private pictures were leaked online.
Either way, as you can see there is no positive side to it and while there were a plethora of men and women who were trying to show the error of the entire debate, many continued on thinking that their excuses provided a place for the reckless things that were being said about two women who social media loves to troll because of their size. But to many, the debate pointed out the bigger issue, which is our disdain for confident BBWs.
In a world where plus size white women like Kelly Clarkson, Amy Schumer, and Rebel Wilson are called “curvy” and plus-size Black women like Gabourey Sidibe, Lizzo, and Jill Scott (just name a few) are called “fat b*tches”–you can see why this argument is a sore subject for most Black women. Besides feeling like there can only be one Black woman on top at a time, Black women have the added division causing factor of weight that further draws a crack in the foundation of our solidarity.
Besides the overall stigma of being “lazy” that comes with being plus-sized, there are now subcategories and boxes that these types of debates create that make it harder for most plus-sized Black women to feel comfortable or accepted by society. As broken down here in the New York Times article, “Black Women and Fat”, systematically the ideology of adoration for the heavier form on a Black woman by white America was birthed out of its original disdain and that ideology was passed on through marketing, Europeanized standards of beauty, of course, entertainment; but the origin began out of protest.
“The plus-size black woman’s body functions as a site of resistance to both gendered and racialized oppression,” Alice Randall wrote. “By contextualizing fatness within the African diaspora, she invites us to notice that the fat black woman can be a rounded opposite of the fit black slave, that the fatness of black women has often functioned as both explicit political statement and active political resistance.”
In essence, what we see today as a gentle “mammy”, was really a perverted figure of Black women fighting back during slavery and beyond with their own silent protest making their message clear-YOU DON’T OWN ME. While that may not be the overall case today, in Lizzo’s case it is. She is showing that we can be just as fun, sexy, and healthy at any size that we are meant to be; while bucking society’s norms of what body type is deemed as sexy.
So next time you open your mouth to say what a Black woman should or shouldn’t look like, instead of hating, check out Lizzo’s recipe for happiness.
Check out what Twitter had to say below.
Why Black Twitter’s “Jill Scott vs Lizzo” Debate Exposes Hate For Big Black Women was originally published on hiphopwired.com