Lizzo: has she betrayed the sisterhood?

She is the classically trained flautist who has become a pop superstar on the back of her joyful, inclusive, body-positive image. So the allegations made last week against Lizzo have come as a “bombshell”, said Nadira Goffe on Slate.

In a lawsuit, three dancers who worked with Lizzo’s Big Grrrls troupe allege that they were bullied, sexually harassed and even fat-shamed by the singer, 35, or members of her team. One of the trio says that Lizzo “hounded” her to touch the breasts of a nude performer on a visit to a strip club in Amsterdam. Another says that after she gained weight, Lizzo questioned her commitment to her job, something she alleges amounted to “thinly veiled” fat-shaming.

‘Sensationalised stories’

The dancers also claim to have been subjected to unreasonable demands, and made to take part in an “excruciating” 12-hour rehearsal. One says that she didn’t dare leave the session even to visit the WC, with the result that she wet herself.

Lizzo has vehemently denied the claims, said The Guardian, describing them as “sensationalised stories” that are as “unbelievable as they sound”; and it’s true that the dancers had been fired. But alas for her, other people have since come forward with similar tales. The film-maker Sophia Nahli Allison, who was hired by Lizzo to make a documentary about her in 2019, described the performer as “arrogant, self-centred and unkind”, and said that she created a “hostile work environment” that undermined the work of “other black and brown women”.

‘No one likes a fraud’

Showbusiness is a tough industry, and if you are a performer at the top of it – and intending to stay there – chances are, you’re going to be a demanding boss, said Meghan McCain in the Daily Mail. Often this is understood, both by the people who work for stars and by their fans. However, this lawsuit is particularly difficult for Lizzo, because her brand is built on self-affirmation, female empowerment and kindness: fans love her for championing minorities and calling out bullying.

Only six weeks ago, she was rocking Glastonbury with her talk of everyone being beautiful. If there is any truth to these allegations, it may not play well for her. As Ellen DeGeneres discovered when she was accused of bullying her television production crew, “no one likes a fraud”.


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