To anyone who was paying attention, Lizzo has been “one hundred percent that bitch”—the lyric every Lizzo fan loves to quote—for a while now. But in 2019, the world finally took notice of her talents.
The Houston-raised singer, rapper, and flutist spent years trying to figure out her musical voice and identity. She performed in her high school’s marching band; studied classical music at the University of Houston; was part of a rap trio, an electro-soul pop duo, and an R&B group; and collaborated with Prince—a series of shape-shifts that brought her to the edge of stardom but no further.
That all changed with the April release of her major label debut, Cuz I Love You, eleven tracks that offer messages of self-love, sexiness, and confidence, set to an array of hip-hop beats and R&B melodies. The album made it to number four on the Billboard charts, and Lizzo’s heightened profile turned a couple of old singles (“Good as Hell” and “Truth Hurts”), which had gone nowhere on their original release, into smash hits.
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But as musically accomplished as Lizzo is, much of her power comes from the way she presents herself in interviews, videos, and several well-timed online memes. There have been plus-sized pop stars before, but none of them have been as brazenly body-positive as Lizzo or as eager to proudly wear so little clothing to photo shoots. Every time she’s onstage or in front of the camera, she projects self-confidence, which assures her fans—known as Lizzbians—that it’s okay to be black, female, full-figured, and a flute nerd.
And that’s why Lizzo’s success has felt like a win for the women she strives to represent. If people are ready to embrace a twerking black woman who doesn’t fit into a size 4 dress, then pretty much anybody can grow up to be 100 percent that bitch.
This article originally appeared in the January 2020 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “The Year of Lizzo.” Subscribe today.