To see someone like us – a band geek, a joyful dancer, a plus size beauty – being unapologetically who she is, is powerful. Applying that to your own life for the better is precious. And then she gives you a shout-out on the radio? Beautiful.
Last week something really weird and exciting happened to me: Arguably the hottest singer on the planet right now talked about how much something I said helped her.
And with that ego-stroking clickbait of an intro, let me take you back to a time before I knew who Lizzo was.
This next bit is kind of hard to write. It’s embarrassing and makes me feel vulnerable, but it’s my truth. I have always struggled with anxiety and negative self talk, and I’m forever telling myself I’m too much: Too overbearing, too ugly, too annoying, too judgemental, the list goes on. Add to that the messages we get about our looks, body size, clothes we wear, our lifestyles and fitting in, and sufficed to say I found plenty of reasons to dislike myself.
It outworked itself in so many ways: I’d buy fancy expensive sheets but would sleep on my old ones because I wanted to save the nice ones for when I had a guest. I’d catch a glimpse of my body in a mirror and feel bad. I struggled to feel connected because I was worried I was a punish to be around.
So that’s the scene. I’m sure some of you can relate. You are my people.
One day I was catching up on some Netflix and BAM, Lizzo was in the soundtrack. The song was super catchy, so I did what any Elder Millennial does, and I Shazamed it.
Down the Lizzo rabbit hole we go.
A quick 101 for those of you who don’t know who Lizzo is: Born in Detroit in 1988, she studied classical music at the University of Houston, and then spent a decade playing gigs, recording music, and generally being awesome before cracking the big time.
All of this brings me to the song that has printed the spirit of itself onto my heart as a manifesto for truly living: Soulmate.
She never tell me to exercise
We always get extra fries
And you know the sex is fire
And I gotta testify
I get flowers every Sunday
I’ma marry me one day.
True love ain’t something you can buy yourself
True love finally happens when you by yourself
So if you by yourself, then go and buy yourself
Another round from the bottle on the highest shelf
How radical is it, in this day and age, to truly, unapologetically love yourself? I didn’t know what to make of it, but I could tell right away that Lizzo was the kind of woman who put the expensive sheets on her bed and enjoyed the hell out of them. That was the kind of woman I wanted to be.
It started small – she has a line in there about looking yourself in the mirror and saying “damn, you’re the one”. The first time I did I’m sure I did an eyeroll and I know I felt stupid, but I kept doing it. Then I bought myself some flowers and when the creeping accusations of “wasting money” came into my mind, I refused to entertain them. The new rule was: If I wouldn’t say it to my soulmate, I wasn’t going to say it to myself.
Some time later I sent a couple of tweets about it, and to my surprise and delight, Lizzo retweeted with some added encouragement to all her fans.
This makes me SO happy https://t.co/Qi2HqKa5MT
— Feelin Good As Hell (@lizzo) July 27, 2019
This is EXACTLY what I mean when I say “I love you, you are beautiful and you can do anything” at my shows.
Day 1 will feel silly but one day you’ll thank yourself https://t.co/1ndGH0bHp1
— Feelin Good As Hell (@lizzo) July 27, 2019
I decided to up the ante with myself. If Lizzo can be a beautiful, flute-playing, g-string wearing twerker entertaining crowds of tens of thousands a night, what might I do?
OK, so I didn’t grab my clarinet and get into my most uncomfortable undies, but I started saying yes to most of the stuff that came my way; I bought the books I always wanted to read, took up power-lifting, visited a kinesiologist, planned an epic international trip, shared my darkest secret with trusted friends, and bought myself an engagement ring because hell yes I could.
And I kept standing in front of the mirror, telling myself I’m the one.
Fast forward to last week. Lizzo was in New Zealand, and my friend Sharyn got to interview her. As part of the interview, Shaz had asked a few of us to record questions for Lizzo to answer, and before they got into it, Sharyn mentioned Lizzo had retweeted something of mine before. Lizzo said “I know exactly what tweet … I talk about her all the time.” She went on to say it helped her – she finds it hard sometimes, so to know she was making a difference makes a difference.
I know I’m not the only person Lizzo has inspired. After she retweeted me I got a lot of messages from other fans, some sharing their deeply moving journeys, some asking for advice on how to get started, some just wanting to tell me she made them feel good as hell.
To see someone like us – a band geek, a joyful dancer, a plus size beauty – being unapologetically who she is, is powerful. Applying that to your own life for the better is precious. Connecting with someone who has been a huge encouragement? Beautiful.
So here’s your challenge: From now on, treat yourself as if you are your own soulmate.
And for goodness sake, put the nice sheets on your bed.
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The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.