Grammy winner Lizzo sparked outrage across the internet this week when she documented her juice cleanse, with many fans believing she was promoting toxic diet culture. But should she really be cancelled? No.
A couple of days ago, Lizzo documented a 10-day “smoothie cleanse” on Instagram. The backlash was swift and savage. Calls to cancel the Grammy award winner, who has long been heralded as an icon for body positivity (though she herself rejects that term), were numerous. It promoted toxic diet culture, they said.
“I can’t believe she did that. So disappointed.”
“Seeing you promote diet culture is breaking my heart”
“Are you doing alright?”
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It’s understandable why her 9.5 million fans would feel betrayed. Just a few months ago, Lizzo declared “being fat is normal” in an interview with Vogue.
“I would like to be body-normative. I want to normalise my body,” she said.
Why would she undergo a juice cleanse? It must be because she’s finally fallen prey to unrealistic beauty standards and wants to be thin, they assumed.
This wasn’t the case, however. In a series of posts shared merely hours later, Lizzo explained it was not a crash diet but an attempt to reset her digestive system after a stressful, less-that-ideal month.
“I would normally be so afraid and ashamed to post things like this online because I feel like as a big girl, people just expect if you are doing something for health, you’re doing it for a dramatic weight loss, and that is not the case,” she said.
“In reality, November stressed me the f**k out. I drank a lot, I ate a lot of spicy things, and things that f**ked my stomach up, and I wanted to reverse it and get back to where I was.”
It’s important to hold the people we idolise to account. But there is a huge difference between the celebrities that peddle toxic diet culture for millions, i.e. the Kardashians, and someone who experiences fatphobia every single day, was even driven off Twitter because of it, and maybe had a moment of weakness (which as it turns out, was not the case anyway).
It’s true that for some, content like this can be triggering, a “slippery slope into eating disorders” as Jameela Jamil noted. And from a nutritional and medical perspective, experts will tell you juice cleanses are entirely unnecessary. Your body has its own in-built detox system in your liver and kidneys, and they do a pretty superb job, too.
At the same time, Lizzo is an adult and it’s her body to do with it what she pleases. Perhaps it would have served her fans better to explain the ‘why’ in the beginning, rather than running to clarify when the goal was misunderstood.
“I did not starve myself,” she wrote in a later Instagram post.
“I fed myself greens and water and fruit and protein and sunlight… My sleep has improved, my hydration, my inner peace, my mental stability, my f**king body, my f**king skin, the whites of my eyes, I feel and look like a bad b***h — and that’s it.”
We’re responsible in part, too. As Lizzo pointed out, society tends to make assumptions about big women and judge them extra harshly. We assume everything they do is about losing weight and that’s exactly what many of Lizzo’s fans did.
“I myself, am, well fat, and God forbid I eat pizza in public,” wrote one commenter on Instagram, “but at the same time, people wonder if I’m on a diet if I eat a salad… So yeah, not everything fat people do has to do with weight loss.”
Without her consent, we’ve placed Lizzo on a ‘body positive’ pedestal when all she’s ever advocated for is “big girls doing whatever the f**k they want with their bodies.”
Would we even be having this discussion if, say, Harry Styles were to do a juice cleanse? Unlikely.