Lizzo Credit: Courtesy the Artist

Lizzo’s single “Truth Hurts” dropped in September 2017, but it didn’t hit number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart until this month. That sleeper-hit narrative fits her: ever since her first album, 2013’s Lizzobangers, the singer and rapper has been slowly but steadily growing her following thanks to her incredible bops, celebratory music videos, and high-energy live performances, where she sometimes incorporates her first instrument, the flute. Why did it take mainstream pop so long to catch on? Today, Lizzo isn’t just topping the charts. She’s a TikTok meme, a VMAs headliner, an Absolut Vodka spokesperson, and a supporting actress in Jennifer Lopez’s new movie, Hustlers—and on top of all that, she’s become an icon of body positivity. On her latest album, this spring’s Cuz I Love You, Lizzo channels self-love and empowerment on upbeat songs such as “Soulmate” and “Like a Girl,” but she comes across as most powerful on the subdued, almost sinister R&B jam “Tempo” (featuring the legend Missy Elliott). “Slow songs ain’t for skinny hoes,” Lizzo drawls, carving out an explicit space for fat bodies in pop music. Though a pop icon with a fat body still feels radical in 2019, Lizzo takes the spotlight with such ease that it’s possible to imagine a future where body diversity is a given among Top 40 stars. “When all the dust has settled on the groundbreaking-ness, I’m going to still be doing this,” she told Allure magazine in her March 2019 cover story. “And if that’s body positive to you, amen. That’s feminist to you, amen. If that’s pro-Black to you, amen.”   v