“They Don't Know I Do It for the Culture, Goddamn”
Lizzo’s “Rumors” and the Intersectionality of Fat Black Female Representation
Patriarchy, white supremacy, and fatphobia shape mainstream American culture into the twenty-first century. Fat Black women in popular culture are represented through controlling images that seek to define Black women through their perverse embodiment. Two dominant stereotypes, the Hottentot Venus and the mammy, synthesize anti-Blackness, anti-fatness, and misogyny to confine large Black women within a continuum between hypersexualized deviance and asexualized subservience. This historical context informs the social dynamics surrounding Lizzo, a fat Black performer whose rise has electrified discussion of race, gender, and body size across American society. The discourse surrounding Lizzo is marked by pernicious, oppressive ideologies and the controlling images of the mammy and the Hottentot Venus. The song “Rumors” directly confronts these attacks on Lizzo’s identity and works against this oppressive framework to proclaim joint Black, fat, female liberation.
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