rules to live by

Lizzo: ‘I Am the Beauty Standard’

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photo: Getty Images

About an hour before Lizzo led a room full of teenagers through breathing practices and self-love affirmations at the Los Angeles Boys & Girls Club, she was in her trailer meditating. When I walked in, the Grammy-winning artist was in full glam, sitting by herself, with her eyes closed. “I’ve just been really calm and Zen lately because I’ve been off tour and home,” she says. “Now I’m back in my bag and in my routine. It feels optimal.”

Lizzo has never been afraid to show a little skin. In 2021, she posted a naked selfie to announce her partnership with Dove’s Self Esteem Project, which is an initiative to help young teens tackle issues with low self-esteem, and told The Cut that her body shouldn’t be a political statement. (Side note: Our 2019 cover was one of her favorites. “My ass has never looked better, it’s on so many people’s walls from that shoot,” she says.)

On this day, activists, parents, editors, and teens gathered together to push for legislation that will advance the 2023 Kids Online Safety Act to limit the youth’s exposure to toxic beauty content on the Internet. The goal? To design a safer social-media environment. (Recent research by Dove shows that eight in ten youth mental-health specialists say social media is fueling a mental-health crisis.) We listened as kids shared stories about their personal struggles with social media. Ethical tech leaders and mental-health activists like CEO of Common Sense Media Jim Steyer, digital-media expert Dr. Safiya U. Noble, and Stanford psychiatrist and social-design expert Dr. Nina Vasan discussed solutions like creating new tools on social media that protect kids’ overall experiences online and monitor their exposure to dangerous beauty content. “Seeing the negative impact social media is having on youth mental health today is devastating and has to stop,” Lizzo says.

What’s your No. 1 rule with social media? Don’t read the fucking comments, not even a DM. I only read the comments sometimes on Twitter, if you’re that one lucky person that popped up when I first refresh. Unless I posted something constructive. I’m in my discourse era, so I’ll ask a lot of philosophical questions and I’ll read those. I do read and respond to the comments more on TikTok. You have to pick your platform. I’ve recently reached this place where I do not crave validation from social media anymore. This app doesn’t exist if you’re not on it. So it needs you. Remember that.

We forget that social media is not a real person, even though it functions like one because it has a human-like effect in our life. Sometimes, social media feels like my friend. In the early days, I had a little safe space and it made me feel good. But that gets out of control. I’ll immediately be trending and people are attacking me. Then I’m like, wait, what happened? Sometimes I’m like, girl, I don’t want to talk to you right now. Because you get on my nerves and you’re not being a good friend to me.

What’s your No. 1 rule with beauty standards? I am the beauty standard. Just because you don’t look like the majority of the people in the room doesn’t mean you’re not beautiful. Body normativity is just not remarking on people’s bodies. It’s about body neutrality and normalizing the differences people have. I don’t need your positivity or your negativity. I don’t need your comments at all. How about that? Just keep it pushing. If you see somebody who has body augmentation, mind your business. If you see somebody who’s thin, mind your business. That’s where I’m at. I don’t need you to praise or hate on my body. I just need you to shut up, mind your business, and mind your own body.

What’s your No. 1 rule for posting? I always have to post myself. A lot of artists have people managing their pages for them. It always has to come from or else it feels so fake and contrived. If you’re not posting as your authentic self, you’re not expressing yourself how you really want to. People aren’t going to feel it.

What’s your No. 1 rule for being on your phone? At my healthiest, after eight o’clock, I put my phone in a drawer because I don’t want to be scrolling myself to sleep anymore. I don’t think that’s very good for my eyeballs or my brain. But the rule that I’m able to maintain the most is just knowing when to walk away from my phone. Sometimes I’ll look and be like, damn, my phone’s still in my hand. I’ll go in the bathroom and wash my hands, my phone’s right there. I’ll be in the shower and my phone is in the shower with me. It’s about knowing when to just throw it on my bed and walk away, which feels really empowering.

What’s your No. 1 rule for dating? Don’t go out with somebody you don’t like just because you want to be with somebody. Let me tell you something, I will be good all by myself, and my friends when I feel like it, with some good food, a TV show, and a cup of something tasty. I don’t waste my time going out with people I don’t like just because I want companionship. I had to make myself the partner that I wanted. And if someone came around that I actually liked, then I’ll go on a date with them. Don’t waste your precious time, they’ll come to you.

What’s your No. 1 rule when mingling with other famous people? Well, first off, famous people are scary. The irony of me and Cardi B both being like, why are famous people so scary? Why is Rihanna so scary? I don’t often frequent those rooms. If I have the choice, I’ll stay home or hang out with my friends. But in those rare circumstances when it’s like, Beyoncé wants you to come to dinner, you go to dinner. It’s really refreshing for famous people to talk to someone who’s just themselves. Even if you talk too much, say the wrong thing and it’s funny, that’s so refreshing. Versus people who are so shook, praising you, or just being a fan. Get your fan moment out! I got my fan moment out with Beyoncé, and then after that I was able to just be like, okay, now I can dance around you.

What’s your No. 1 advice for still struggling with self-acceptance and comparison issues? The first thing is admitting that it’s not easy, but don’t beat yourself up for not having the perfect appearance or not living up to what you see on the internet. And then the second thing for me is realizing that everyone is editing their pictures. Everyone’s putting a filter on, like that Bold Glamour filter. I would look at girls and be like, Oh my God, I’ll never look like that. Why can’t I? And I would get so sad. But everyone feels insecure about something.

Lizzo: ‘I Am the Beauty Standard’