In what could be the single most shocking and upsetting piece of celebrity news in 2023, fans woke up on Tuesday 2 August to find out that universally-loved musician Lizzo has been accused of sexual harassment, body shaming, and creating a hostile work environment by three of her former backup dancers.
Lizzo’s online content and music has long been regarded as a safe space and source of joy for people all over the world. Moreover, her relatable and authentic personality has become a comfort for many. The singer is known for her activism, particularly in respect of body confidence, as well as her many public appearances wherein she’s platformed marginalised voices and supported the rights of women and LGBTQIA+ individuals.
So you can imagine the genuine shock, anger, disappointment, and overall upset we all felt when the accusations against the 35-year-old began pouring in. How could someone who was so loved and fundamentally kind be the mastermind behind such disturbing and offensive abuses of power?
Naturally, the internet just completely lost it. Twitter and TikTok immediately exploded with theory after theory—some tried to defend the ‘Truth Hurts’ artist while others sympathised with the victims and grieved Lizzo while simultaneously pulling ‘Good as Hell’ posters off their walls. Yep, it’s been a rough couple of hours for Lizzbians.
But, before we dive into all of the new revelations that have been shared online following the publication of the lawsuit, let’s revisit the current allegations and the details that we know so far.
The three plaintiffs, Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams, and Noelle Rodriguez all began working for Lizzo as backup dancers in 2021. Davis and Williams have since been fired, and Rodriguez resigned earlier this year. According to The Independent, the three women have alleged that not only did Lizzo foster a highly disruptive and toxic work environment, but that she also pressured one of the plaintiffs into touching a nude performer at a club in Amsterdam.
Moreover, the suit has also detailed ways in which Lizzo’s production company Big Grrrl Big Touring has been responsible for assault, racial and religious harassment, fat-shaming, disability discrimination, and false imprisonment. It’s heavy stuff, and it’s forcing people to completely re-evaluate someone who, in many ways, has built her career off of respecting and valuing others.
One of Lizzo’s biggest ventures in 2022 was her Amazon Prime TV show Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls. The series’ concept was rooted in the singer finding dancers who she’d then invite to come on tour with her. Lizzo has been consistently praised for her unapologetic and inspiring dedication to body acceptance and love. So, learning that there have been incidents where she’s actively weight-shamed specific dancers is definitely hard to hear.
Regarding the trip to Amsterdam, the dancers have alleged that the Grammy award-winning singer “hounded” her employees to engage intimately with the nude dancers. At one point, Lizzo also apparently “began inviting cast members to take turns touching the nude performers, catching dildos launched from the performers’ vaginas, and eating bananas protruding from the performers’ vaginas.”
#NotLizzo is currently trending on Twitter—the new ominous ‘X’ logo also isn’t helping lift the mood. Most netizens genuinely seem crushed by the news. Very few claim to have known this was going to come out, if anything, people are almost trying to rationalise how perhaps there could still be another side to the story.
The problem is, when you put a celebrity on such a high pedestal, as easy as cancel culture comes nowadays, it can also be incredibly difficult to accept that you must now knock them off the top.
But among the general “noooos” and “never saw this coming,” another narrative is emerging, one that involves a number of other dancers and employees who worked closely with Lizzo sharing eerily similar experiences and openly supporting the three plaintiffs:
Former long-time collaborator of Lizzo’s and backup dancer for the singer, Courtney Hollinquest shared a story on her Instagram in which she wrote: “For clarification, I’m not a part of the lawsuit—but this was very much my experience in my time there. Big shoutout to the dancers who had the courage to bring this to light.”
Shortly after, Lizzo’s former creative director Quinn Whitney Wilson also came out in support of the dancers and shared on her socials: “I haven’t been a part of that world for around three years, for a reason.” It’s clear that there are still a number of things yet to be unravelled in this story and potentially other victims who might still come forward.
As if things couldn’t be looking even worse for the singer, it seems as though the rest of the music community is also now looking to oust the artist.
A video has gone viral of Beyoncé singing ‘BREAK MY SOUL (THE QUEENS REMIX)’ wherein she usually sings a list of names of influential Black women. Lizzo’s name features in the remix, but at Beyoncé’s recent concert during her ongoing Renaissance tour, the singer chose to omit the fellow singer’s name… Ouch.
Neither Lizzo nor her production company have released a statement responding to the allegations, but it’s only a matter of time until they do. Until that day comes, netizens will most likely continue to lament over the singer and the positive impact she once had.