Fatphobia in the Music Industry

How does TikTok and a juice cleanse lead to a war over a fat woman’s body, and how does all this tie back to the rampant fatphobia in the music industry?

A heated debate broke out last December when Lizzo announced her juice cleanse on TikTok.  Members of the body positive and fat liberation communities each shared mixed thoughts ranging from grief to solidarity – each community claimed her for their own. But Lizzo is not your fat best friend nor your fat activist icon. She’s never claimed to be either of these.

Lizzo is a fat, black woman. By simply existing, Lizzo inherently challenges the norms of the music industry. Like Mama Cass, Axl Rose, Adele, Kanye West and so many others, everyone has an opinion on her fat body.

This week, we’re breaking down fatphobia in the music industry by learning about the radical and political differences between the fat acceptance, body positivity and fat liberation movements over the decades. And, we’re joined by writer Patricia DeLuca who’s been fighting anti-fat bias in the music industry since the 90s. She even started her own website, Strutter, to call out fatphobia in pop culture.

Setting the Scene with History:

The fat acceptance movement has been around since the late 1960s with the start of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance to combat anti-fat bias through education and awareness. However, with the rise of the LGBTQ+ and women’s rights movements, Judy Freespirit and Sarah Fishman saw an opportunity to take a more radical and political approach to challenging fatphobia by creating The Fat Underground movement. Their goals were to shake up the medical industry by calling attention to its inherent fatphobic practices.

While these movements declined in the 90s and 00s, we are seeing a resurgence in the conversation of fatphobia as celebrities, musicians and consumer challenge the “norms” of body image with body positivity and fat liberation. Learn more by listening!


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Want to talk more? Find us: @name3songs | @sara_feigin | @jenna_million

Want to hear more from Name 3 Songs? Check out past episodes like The Most Criticized Women in Pop and How to Empower Yourself in Toxic Environments!

Sources for Fatphobia in the Music Industry

“The Chubby One:” Child Stars and Fatphobia (Strutter, Patricia DeLuca, 2021)

Carnie Wilson Says She Was Weighed and Fat-Shamed by Howard Stern: ‘I Was Devastated’ (People, Dave Quinn, 2017)

No One’s Getting Fat Except Mama Cass (The Guardian, 1999)

Sweet pie of mine! Guns N Roses frontman Axl Rose is unrecognisable after piling on the pounds (Daily Mail, Sarah Bull, 2011)

Why I’m Trading Body Positivity for Fat Acceptance (Healthline, Amee Severson, 2019)

It’s Time #BodyPositivity Got an Intervention (Healthline, Maisha Johnson, 2019)

Why Do We Talk About Plus Size Women and Not Plus Size Men (Huffington Post Australia, Leigh Campbell, 2017)

A Feminist History of Fat Liberation (MS. Magazine, Sarah Simon, 2019)

Sam Smith on their struggles with body image (NME, Luke Morgan Britton, 2015)

Ashton Irwin: ‘I Had Given Up on Myself’ (Jaxsta, Rod Yates, 2020)

Q&A: Tyson Ritter (Rolling Stone, Austin Scaggs, 2006)

Kanye’s Dad Bod Is Getting Hate, But Could Be a Sign of a Serious Problem (Men’s Health, Alisa Hrustic, 2017)

Wendy Williams Blasts Kanye for Weight Gain ‘He Needs a BreastReduction’ (Hollywood Life, Jenna Lemoncelli, 2018)

Kanye West Reveals He’s Undergone Liposuction and Is On Medication Following Mental Breakdown: ‘I’m Happy It Happened’ (People, Karen Mizoguchi, 2018)

Take Note Vogue: Adele garces cover of Cosmopolitan Magazine – curves and all (Daily Mail, Tamara Abraham, 2011)

Adele says her weight loss led to shopping habit is flawless vogue cover shoot (NY Daily News, Meera Jagannathan, 2016)

Why Adele’s Weight Loss Should Be Her Business Only (Vogue, Emma Specter, 2020)

Selfcare has to be rooted in self-preservation not just mimosas and spa days (NBC News, Lizzo, 2019)

Lizzo’s Body In Not A Political Battlefront (Wear Your Voice, Rasheed Ajamu, 2020)

Unraveling the Fatphobia behind the criticisms of Lizzo (Wear Your Voice, Sydneysky G, 2019)

Don’t Call Lizzo ‘Brave’ for Being Confident (Glamour, Christopher Rosa, 2019

What celeb trainer Jillian Michaels got wrong about Lizzo and body positivity (Vox, Katelyn Esmonda, 2020)

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