This is not the first time social media users have taken it upon themselves to discuss Lizzo's body. But this time, it's not just fat shamers commenting on Lizzo's appearance; it's some of her fans too.

Pop megastar Lizzo has always known that her body would be the subject of conversation in her career. She hasn't necessarily loved it, but she's accepted it. Over the past few years, as her success has skyrocketed, Lizzo has been an icon for fat positivity activists and an advocate for more inclusive views of what a healthy body looks like.

Just this summer, Lizzo posted a video of herself working out in which she sent out a powerful statement about how body size is not necessarily an indicator of health, and neither thing is anybody else's business, saying: "I'm not working out to have your ideal body type. I'm working out to have my ideal body type."

"Health," she went on, "is not just determined by what you look like on the outside. Health is also what happens on the inside. And a lot of y'all need to do a f--king cleanse for your insides."

Months later, the "Juice" singer is the one doing a cleanse and many fans are not happy

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B.S.

Jesus Rose from the Dead So Lizzo Could Twerk, STFU Diddy

This is the lord's day. There is no body shaming on the lord's day.

First, God created the heavens and the earth; second, he made the sea and the animals; and then, he created people.

God quickly realized he'd made a mistake with the "people" recipe, so he tried again, a few billion years later, and thus was born the gift that is Lizzo. If there is anything that proves the presence of a loving and sentient god, surely it's Lizzo in all her flute-playing, note-hitting, body-positive glory. But, apparently, some would disagree.

On Sunday, Rapper and businessman Diddy hosted the "world's biggest dance-a-thon" on his Instagram account in an effort to raise money to benefit healthcare workers in underserved areas. Many big names and excellent dancers joined in, including Jennifer Lopez, Alex Rodriguez, and, of course, Lizzo.

As is her trademark, Lizzo started to twerk while Diddy's sons danced on his Instagram live stream. Diddy quickly shut it down, shouting, "Whoa, whoa, whoa!" jumping into the frame and stopping the music. "It's Easter Sunday, let's play something a little more family friendly." Lizzo appeared to be, understandably, embarrassed and said, "Sorry, sorry, sorry! Let's do something fun. Well, don't play that kind of... play something I can bop to."

If Diddy had found Lizzo's dance moves too suggestive for his sons, that would be one thing. But he soon proved that the twerking wasn't the problem when model Draya Michele danced similarly on the dance-a-thon just a few hours later.

"You killed that!" Diddy told Draya. "I think that was one of the top performances."

Twitter users, rightfully, had issues with Diddy's hypocrisy.



It's obvious that Diddy shutting down Lizzo's dancing had nothing to do with it being "the Lord's day" and everything to do with fat phobia. Online backlash was so severe that he later tried to excuse himself by claiming that he stopped Lizzo because of the song she chose: "When I stopped the music, it was 'cause it had a lot of curses in there," he posted on Instagram. "Not 'cause she was twerking. She's one of the best twerkers in the world, okay? So, let's keep that clear. You are allowed to twerk on Easter. There was a lot of cursing in the record and I don't need child services knocking on my door right now." Cursing on Instagram has never brought child services to anyone's door, but okay, Diddy.

It's sad that some people still can't see the divine miracle that is the female form in all its many variations—especially the holy gift of Lizzo's butt. Of course, so close to Easter, all we can do is pray for Diddy's hypocritical, fat phobic soul and twerk our hearts out, no matter what size we are.

TV

Is Jameela Jamil Queerbaiting (Even Though She's Queer)?

The Good Place actress received backlash for accepting a judge role on HBO's new voguing competition show. Then, she came out.

This week, The Good Place star and self-proclaimed "feminist-in-progress" Jameela Jamil received a great deal of backlash for being cast as a guest judge on Legendary, a new voguing competition show to be aired on HBO Max.

Voguing is a style of dance that rose in popularity from the Harlem ballroom/drag culture between the '60s and '80s, and it's since become a crucial aspect of black and Latinx LGBTQ+ culture and history. Some participants of ballroom culture also belong to "houses"—or shared residences with friends who become more like chosen family members—as many of them have been alienated from their biological families. All of this is to say that voguing, as popularized by the Madonna hit song and documentaries like Paris is Burning, is much more nuanced than just a bunch of fun dance moves.

It's great that many of the hosts and judges of Legendary, like Jamil, are people of color, but critics were quick to point out that Jamil was presumably straight, thus unfit to serve as a judge. She countered these arguments by coming out as queer.

"Twitter is brutal. This is why I never officially came out as queer," Jamil wrote. "I kept it low because I was scared of the pain of being accused of performative bandwagon jumping, over something that caused me a lot of confusion, fear and turmoil when I was a kid...It's also scary as an actor to openly admit your sexuality, especially when you're already a brown female in your thirties."

Nobody, Jamil included, should ever be forced to come out–but accepting the role as a judge on Legendary without having publicized her queerness seems hypocritical. Last year, Jamil turned down a role to play a deaf character because, although she was born partially deaf, she has since regained her hearing. "It wouldn't be appropriate for me to take that role and they should find a brilliant deaf woman to play that role," Jamil explained. "I think you have to make those choices and not be too greedy and make space rather than take space...I don't want to be part of erasure."

Ballroom is an incredibly particular subculture of the LGBTQ+ community, and as Jamil even admitted in her statement, her being queer doesn't automatically qualify her for a judging position, because she's not a member of that specific community. Still, she took the job, despite being completely new to the ballroom scene; is that not erasure?

Hustlers star Trace Lysette, a trans woman who used to work as a dancer, shared her feelings about Jamil's casting on Twitter. "Lol.. I interviewed for this gig," Lysette wrote. "As the mother of a house for nearly a decade it's kind of mind blowing when ppl with no connection to our culture gets the gig. [sic] This is not shade towards Jameela, I love all that she stands for. If anything I question the decision makers."



In Jamil's defense, she's made respectful endeavors in promoting inclusivity and gender equality; her secondary Instagram account, @i_weigh, celebrates body positivity, and she spent much of her time in the public eye as a persistent LGBTQ+ ally before coming out herself. But as many users have observed, the timing and circumstances of her coming out feel, unfortunately, like queerbaiting.

Are queer people in hetero-presenting relationships, like Jamil, valid? Absolutely. Is it fair to gatekeep within the queer community, questioning whether or not somebody is "gay enough?" Absolutely not. But for Jamil, in her relentless pursuit of divine wokeness, to denounce erasure of marginalized voices only to end up doing just that? It's incredibly disappointing.

CULTURE

The Peloton Ad Is Actually the Realest Thing on TV Right Now

If anything, online fitness "journeys" are even eerier than the Peloton woman's.

By now you've probably seen the infamous ad in which a woman receives a Peloton bike for Christmas and then proceeds to make a video diary documenting her "fitness journey."

The ad disoriented Internet users across the board, many of whom called it sexist, critiqued the husband for gifting his already thin wife a Peloton bike, and noted the expression of absolute terror in the wife's eyes.

Let's get one thing straight: "The Gift That Gives Back" is very, very creepy. But the truth is, a lot of the critiques it received are missing the point. What makes the Peloton ad so eerie is the fact that it highlights the problematic cracks that characterize the majority of ads we see.

The Gift That Gives Back | Peloton Bike Commercial www.youtube.com

Sexism, Weight Loss, and the Female Empowerment Hypocrisy

To refresh your memory, the Peloton ad begins on Christmas morning. In the first frames, the commercial's female protagonist enters the living room of her gorgeous home and sees that her husband has bought her a Peloton bike.

Many critics were horrified at the idea that a man would gift a woman an exercise bike without her asking, and many took issue with this because the woman is slim. Actually, these critiques miss several points.

Firstly, women are constantly sold the idea that they need to lose weight no matter what size they actually are. Capitalism has always profited off women's (and everyone's, really) dislike of their own bodies, and the fact that useless and dangerous diet products are still on the market—and are still being sold by people as influential as the Kardashians—is proof of this.

While people don't typically surprise their significant others with weight loss equipment, normally they don't have to. The desire to change and dislike one's body is already ingrained in most women's minds, tattooed there by advertisements and corporations that usually operate much more insidiously and subtly than the Peloton ad. Most of the time, societal expectations will have given women eating disorders long before their husbands buy them exercise bikes.

The argument that the husband in the commercial shouldn't have bought his wife a Peloton because she's slim is even more misguided. Why would it be more acceptable for a man to buy his fat wife a Peloton? Wouldn't that be even more critical and judgmental? Also, of course, slim people can be out of shape—and most in-shape people would probably appreciate having their own high-tech exercise bike. Needless to say, exercise is healthy for everyone's body and mind regardless of one's health and appearance. The idea that we should only be exercising to lose weight or to alter our appearances is a dangerous concept in and of itself, one that promotes unsustainable mindsets and unhealthy fatphobia.

"Peloton Husband" Speaks Out www.psychologytoday.com

Of course the gender roles in the commercial are sexist and old-fashioned, but we can't blame the entire thing on the husband (and we definitely shouldn't blame the male actor, who recently spoke out in hopes that the commercial wouldn't hurt his chance at getting jobs). It's old news to say that men sometimes treat women like objects, and a little feminist ethos isn't going to scrape this out of our collective consciousness.Pinterest

Nowadays, ideas that subjugate and harm women are very easily packaged under the guise of feminism and empowerment, just as ideas that perpetuate damaging and capitalism-influenced perceptions about health have been packaged under the umbrella of"wellness."

If the woman had bought this Peloton with her own money, would that have made everything better? If she hadn't filmed herself and exposed her horror, would it have been better? If capitalism is disguised as empowerment, self-help, tradition. and freedom, does that make it okay?

When Bad Copywriting Meets Real Millennial Existential Horror

Many people took issue with the ad because of the weirdness of its plot, particularly its video-diary aspect. The female protagonist who receives the bike appears to film herself working out for an entire year, and then on the next Christmas Day, she gifts her husband with a compilation video in which she thanks him for the present.

According to Amy Hoy on Twitter, the ad's main issue isn't its sexism but rather its structure. The main thing that made the ad so awkward, she argues, was the fact that the woman in it seems to be speaking not to her husband, or to herself, but to us. "The scriptwriters actually wrote OUR PERSPECTIVE to be the husband's perspective," she writes. "All her work… is for us… We get turned into a character we didn't ask for, looking out at a world that isn't ours, being pandered to in a way that feels super gross." This voyeurism, because it's so disorienting, seems "gross because we feel gross because she made that scared face AT US."

This is true: The Peloton ad shatters the fourth wall. But isn't that disruption the goal of all advertisements, and of all stories in the end? When characters or bloggers interact with each other on screen or on Instagram livestreams, they're not doing it for themselves. They're blogging or speaking in order to reach someone and to communicate a story.

The problem is that when sales are the objective, stories fall apart and humans lose their humanity, consumed by algorithms and trends. Usually, we just can't see this as clearly––the people selling us products typically smile instead of staring out into the glowing ether of the screen with a look of raw terror in their eyes, making us feel implicated and guilty.

In my opinion, the fear in the Peloton woman's eyes is the most visibly disturbing aspect of the commercial. She really does look like someone is holding a gun to her head, and for good reason, because she appears to be living a dystopian existence. It makes sense that the ad has been compared to the Black Mirror episode "Fifteen Million Merits," in which people ride exercise bikes all day in order to earn a currency (and hope to win a spot out of their servitude via reality TV success).

All in all, the commercial takes the worst of the Instagrammer era, combines it with 1950s-style gender roles, and wraps it together with a bow of millennial anxiety and existential terror. No wonder the Peloton market value has tanked.

Undeniably, the whole thing is uncomfortable to watch. But... are this woman's actions so different from those of fitness bloggers and Instagrammers who constantly document their "fitness journeys," sell their personas as commodities, and pressure millions of followers into buying products they're commissioned to post about? If anything, online fitness "journeys" are even eerier than the Peloton woman's, because the latter are usually persuasive and relatable. They're designed to make you feel bad about yourself for not looking or feeling a certain way in order to sell impossible body images and wellness standards and, most insidiously, to perpetuate pre-existing power structures.

This isn't just a weight loss thing: It happens across the board, in fashion, in the arts, in everything where advertising is involved.

All media funded by someone trying to sell you something is going to attempt to convince you that what they offer will make your life better somehow. That's the golden rule of advertising, and the secret behind all human interaction, in a way. Normally, humans make each other feel loved by making each other feel seen and recognized and by helping each other grow. But advertisements and capitalism devour and distort these natural impulses, promising that we'll feel loved and happy and seen if and only if we buy this product or attain this artificial moniker of success or this level of wealth.

This brings us to the final and most important critique of the Peloton commercial.

Why Peloton: The Capitalist Critique

Despite whatever internal weirdness is going on between the Peloton husband and wife, the family in the Peloton video appear to be the epitome of privilege. They live in a beautiful, hyper-modern home, and the husband has the ability to purchase a $2,294 bike on a whim.

Many people have taken issue with the price of the bike, which is exorbitantly expensive. Then again, many gym memberships cost this much in a year, and Peloton has actually sold well with middle-class people who struggle to access gyms or wellness communities. And of course, for the owning and billionaire classes and for the one percent, this price is almost nothing.

Yet we don't complain when we see ads for much more expensive jewelry or homes or designer clothing. They slip by, fading into the background noise that hums at the edges of our lives, constantly whispering about everything that we are not but could be if we just worked a little harder and made a little more money.

So what about the Peloton commercial is so horrible that it managed to actually get under our skin? 2019 has already seen a lot of controversial ads that hit nerves for everything from racism to plagiarism. Why is this the ad that's suddenly awoken us? Are we just now realizing that maybe the rich shouldn't be allowed to have everything they have, and that a lot of capitalism is bullsh*t? That some people struggle to make ends meet every day, or find themselves tanked in debt because they got sick and didn't have health insurance, or were sold bad drugs by greedy corporations, or find their homes flooded because these same corporations paid to distort facts about climate change? That capitalism profits off our insecurities and selfish self-loathing by manufacturing these things?

I'm probably going a little too far for an analysis of a Peloton commercial. Obviously Peloton did not single-handedly invent capitalist systems of oppression. Plus, many of us have known this stuff for a while, and admittedly it's much easier to critique capitalism than actually take action against it—and action is certainly what we need.

Regardless, let's not think for a second that the Peloton ad is misrepresenting the way that women feel in this world, or the way the wealthy live, or the way that capital drives dangerous, bizarre, completely unnatural expectations and habits. The Peloton commercial isn't dystopian (or maybe we're just living the dystopia right now). It's probably one of the most raw and real things on TV right now, and if it's terrifying you, maybe it's time to ask yourself why.

Warner Bros.

I have to get something off my chest, and no, it's not my luscious, curly chest hair.

As The Mary Sue point out in this enlightening article, Marvel apparently decides to shave almost all of their male superheroes' chests. As a dude sporting a pretty shaggy torso mat myself, I can't mince words here: Marvel's behavior is abhorrent, and I won't stand for it.

Everyone who's not a chud understands that body positivity––or at the very least, body acceptance––is, well, positive. In general, our media landscape has followed suit, if perhaps a little slowly. The cinematic landscape is far more diverse today than ever before, and a lot of that diversity centers around rejecting a uniform aesthetic of what is or is not attractive. And yet, as The Mary Sue illustrated, Marvel seems hellbent on telling hairy men that their chest hair is unwanted.

But here's where things get even worse for us forest-breasted lads: It's not just Marvel sending this message of hate.

Take Jason Momoa, for instance. Here's a man with some nice chest hair. Just look at his chest hair as Khal Drogo. That's the kind of chest hair one would expect from a barbarian warlord.

Khal Drogo HBO

Now look at him in DC's Aquaman.

Aquaman Shirtless Warner Bros.

Undoubtedly, DC made a conscious decision to shave Jason Momoa's chest hair. But why? Is it because swimmers often shave their body hair in order to glide more easily through the water?

Okay, fine. Well, then explain this. Here's Joaquin Phoenix, a handsome man with some nice chest pubix, in You Were Never Really Here.

Joaquin Phoenix Shirtless Amazon Studios

Now, here's Joaquin Phoenix shirtless in Joker. Can you tell what's missing?

Joker Shirtless Warner Bros.

Yeah, that's right, no chest hair. Don't even try to tell me that Arthur Fleck just randomly decided to shave his chest during a mental episode, because I don't buy that for a second. The chest shaving of The Joker is an intentional effort by DC to show us that the ideal male body does not have an ounce of pec hair.

But I don't think Marvel, DC, and whatever other hairless superpowered smut purveyors are in it alone. No, I think the rabbit hole goes deeper.

Considering the fact that we live in a capitalist hellscape, what if (and this is just a theory) superhero movies were marketing all their male heroes as bare-chested in an attempt to sell razors? What if the true mastermind behind all these no-chest hair superheroes was Gillette?

Okay, I know that's crazy. It's not like there's…

Marvel Gillette Gillette

Oh.

DC Comics Gillette Gillette

Oh boy. This is it. Not only has Gillette collaborated with both Marvel and DC on superhero-themed razors, but they also started #TheBestASuperHeroCanGet campaign in what can only be summed up as a hate crime against voluminously stranded men.

If we men take any pride in the strands around our nips, we cannot let this stand. No longer will we let Gillette and their cabal of superhero capitalists tell us that the only male beauty is the hairless kind. We must rise up and throw our razors in the trash. We must pinch our bountiful locks in our fingers and shout, "I'm a hairy man, and that makes me beautiful." Then, at last, we must throw our superhero Blu-rays in the trash. #HairyANDSuper

CULTURE

Why Demi Lovato Is Embracing Body Acceptance, Not Body Positivity

She's joining Jameela Jamil and Taylor Swift in the movement.

One year after being hospitalized for a drug overdose, Demi Lovato is speaking out about her year of growth and change.

In her first interview in over a year, the star—who has been open about her struggles with body image and eating disorders—stated that though she still struggles to love her body, she's working towards appreciating her health.

"We hear the term body positivity all the time. To be honest, I don't always feel positive about my body," she said. "Sometimes I do not like what I see. I don't sit there and dwell on it. I also don't lie to myself, used to look in the mirror if I was having a bad body image day and say 'I love my body, you're beautifully and wonderfully made.'" But it's not always that simple, she said.

"I don't have to lie to myself and tell myself I have an amazing body. All I have to say is 'I'm healthy.' In that statement, I express gratitude. I am grateful for my strength and things I can do with my body. I am saying I'm healthy and I accept the way my body is today without changing anything," she added.

Lovato's new ideas about body image reflect the concept of body neutrality, which contrast the message of the popular body positivity movement. Body positivity (of the sort that consists of repeating positive affirmations to yourself) can actually lead to higher levels of anxiety and guilt when you don't feel positive about your body. It can also result in the opposite of its purpose: more fixation on the body, leading to more self-scrutiny and more time and energy wasted.

In contrast, the body neutrality movement is based on appreciating what your body can do rather than what it looks like. Body neutrality or body acceptance is about embracing the fact that your body allows you to move, travel, touch, and dance. It's not about how the body looks, but rather how it feels.

In addition, some say that since body positivity is a storied movement dedicated to carving out spaces and ensuring rights for people who face discrimination or stigma due to their weight, body neutrality is more appropriate for people who are not overtly discriminated against due to their appearances. This is part of why Jameela Jamil is an outspoken advocate for the body neutrality movement as opposed to body positivity. "The [body positivity] movement is not for me," she said. "That movement was designed for women who are discriminated against, like in front of doctors and in our society, because of their size. That is a must-have movement for those people. I am slender, so I'm not discriminated against, because of my size."

Instead, the Good Place star focuses on putting her energy into things other than her body. "Getting on with my day and trying to utilize the minutes I used to spend thinking about food and calories, and cellulite, is how I skate around that to preserve my mental health," she said.

Ultimately, both body positivity and body neutrality are different ways of countering an obsession with weight, either because of your own stigma or society's stigma against it. Obsessing over your body—either by hating it or feeling guilty when you don't love it—is generally a tremendous waste of time, a misuse of energy that could be poured into literally anything else. It's also exactly what brands and other systems that profit off your self-hatred want you to do.

In the interview in which she opened up about her newfound body neutrality, Lovato also emphasized the fact that her journey is ongoing. "What a lot of people don't realize is that I'm actually an extremely sensitive person," Lovato said. "I am human, so be easy on me. And I'm so tired of pretending like I'm not human. That's one thing that I won't do anymore. When you say stuff, it affects me. I'm human."

That sounds like the end goal of the body positivity and body neutrality movements, which are ultimately about remembering that you're not only defined by how your body looks, but who you really are.