Lizzo talks ‘Watch Out For The Big Grrrls,’ amplifying self-love in SXSW keynote session

Angela Lim, Life and Arts senior reporter

Arms extending toward a packed Austin Convention Center auditorium during her keynote session at South by Southwest, Lizzo’s infectious energy had the crowd shouting a self-love mantra to themselves and each other: “I love you. You are beautiful, and you can do anything.”

From music video editing to mastering her songs, Lizzo includes herself in every step of the creative process. Now, the multi Grammy-winning artist takes on the role of executive producer for her new series, “Watch Out For The Big Grrrls,” premiering March 25. The eight episodes follow plus-size women on their quest to join the Big Grrrls, Lizzo’s team of backup dancers. A passion project she’s dreamed of since 2014, Lizzo took inspiration from her initial frustration not seeing herself and other plus-size dancers reflected in casting calls within the industry.

“It was important that I changed the narrative of what a reality competition television show looks like,” Lizzo said. “We don’t have to pit people against each other. … It’s hard enough in the dance world for girls who look like me, so why would I create that environment in my space?”

When Lizzo received attention for the self-confident lyrics in her 2017 breakout single “Truth Hurts,” she said that although the public felt shocked at first, it gradually started welcoming the positive messages in her music.

‘“Body positivity,’ ‘self-love’ and ‘Love yourself,’ are very common terms now being used in media, and that was not the case over five years ago,” Lizzo said. “As far as body representation, we (have) a long way to go. … Big girls have always had value, but I don’t think society has seen the value in bigger bodies.”

While viewers can hear previews of new songs on the show, Lizzo said they can expect to see dancers open up about their stories and undergo rigorous preparations for performances.

“It’s Olympic-level dancing,” Lizzo said. “They had to learn an entire 90-minute show in such a short amount of time, do all the challenges we had and go deep into (themselves).” 

Growing up in Houston as a plus-size Black woman, Lizzo said she realized how societal beauty standards constantly limited her. Lizzo reassured other women that discriminatory stereotypes do not diminish their worth.

“You’re not what society says you are,” Lizzo said. “You are what the f— you say you are, so look in that motherf—ing mirror and remind yourself of who you are because you are that b—-.”

Through making “Watch Out For The Big Grrrls” and being unapologetically herself, Lizzo said she hopes to uplift plus-size women and give them a platform to showcase their skills.

“This is just the beginning,” Lizzo said. “I want them to shake up the industry, come in and shift the paradigm, be in demand and change the rules — and I think they’re doing that already just by existing. I’m so glad I found them, and they found me.”