A TED Talk delivered by Lizzo on the Black history of twerking and how it helped her embrace her body has been uploaded to the organisation’s YouTube channel.
During the 13-minute “TED twerk”, which was originally filmed in August, the singer shared her struggles with body acceptance and said that: “Through the movement of twerking, I discovered my ass is my greatest asset.”
“I used to hate my ass, believe it or not,” she said. “I always felt like my body type was never the right one or the desirable one growing up. I grew up in an era where having a big ass wasn’t mainstream.
“I feel like the ass odds were against me, but baby, this badonkadonkdonk is going places. My ass has been the topic of conversation, my ass has been in magazines, Rihanna gave my ass a standing ovation. Yes, my booty, my least favorite part of my body.”
The singer, who was born in Detroit and later moved to Houston, went on to recall her first time seeing people twerk at a club in the Texas capital, saying it was “incredible”.
She began practising the move herself, saying: “The better I got, the more I fell in love with what I had, because, damn, my ass could do magic.”
“But twerking did not begin with me,” she continued, before exploring the origins of the move, from West Africa where it was used as “a celebration of joy and religious worship”, through to the integration of twerking in the pop culture mainstream, via appropriation.
“Black people carried the origins of this dance through our DNA, through our blood, through our bones. We made twerking the global cultural phenomenon it has become today,” she said.
“Now, as a big black woman who has ass, who can twerk, who has been doing it her whole life, I kind of think I’m an expert on the subject. I want to add to the classical etymology of this dance because it matters. Black people will not be erased from the creation, the history, and the innovation to twerking.”
Watch the full talk below.
Last month, Lizzo linked up with Cardi B for her first single in two years, ‘Rumours’. In it, Lizzo took aim at her critics and the often negative discourse surrounding her body.
The single was met with nasty comments from trolls, prompting Lizzo to share a teary Instagram Live, in which she said: “People who have something mean to say about you, and for the most part it doesn’t hurt my feelings, I don’t care”.
“I just think when I’m working this hard, my tolerance gets lower, my patience is lower. I’m more sensitive, and it gets to me.”
Cardi was quick to come to the rapper’s defence, saying “Body shaming and callin her mammy is mean [and] racist as fuck.”
Shortly after, Facebook supported the singer by deleting comments on her Facebook and Instagram accounts that were deemed to violate their policies against hate speech, harassment and bullying.
“I don’t mind critique about me, my music. I don’t even mind the fat comments. I just feel like it’s unfair sometimes, the treatment that people like me receive,” Lizzo said during an interview on Good Morning America in response to the bullying. “This shit should not fly.”