Celebrity fitness trainer Jillian Michaels is facing backlash for “fat shaming” plus-sized pop star Lizzo.
Michaels, during a Wednesday appearance on BuzzFeed News’ Twitter morning show “AM to DM,” dismissed the notion that Lizzo, who is severely overweight, should be celebrated for her physique.
At one point during the show, “AM to DM” host Alex Berg referenced Lizzo and Ashley Graham as celebrities “preaching self acceptance.”
“I love that they’re putting images out there that we don’t normally get to see, of bodies that we don’t normally get to see being celebrated,” Berg said.
Michaels, a former host of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” reality TV show, disagreed that Lizzo was a positive example, at least regarding fitness.
“Why are we celebrating her body? Why does it matter? Why aren’t we celebrating her music? ‘Cause it isn’t going to be awesome if she gets diabetes,” Michaels said. “I’m just being honest. I love her music, my kid loves her music, but there’s never a moment when I’m like, ‘I’m so glad she’s overweight.’ Why do I even care? Why is it my job to care about her weight?”
A clip of the exchange posted to the “AM to DM” Twitter account went viral, racking up more than 600,000 views in a matter of hours.
Feminists, Lizzo fans and advocates of body-positivity were outraged by Michaels’ remarks.
“She’s not being ‘criticized for fat-shaming’ she’s getting called out for being fatphobic and ableist, why are we not calling this what it is?” tweeted Buzzfeed journalist Kristen Chirico.
Others reacted by insisting that Lizzo was, in fact, in peak athletic condition.
— Ally ????♀️?? (@nametags) January 8, 2020
Comedian Sara Benincasa unloaded a multi-tweet diatribe explaining why Michaels’ remarks were problematic.
Like I'm fucking SURE that if Lizzo or any incredibly wealthy, self-made, talented, award-winning woman of size and substance is worried about her health and wants to pay an angry self-hating white lady to yell at her, she can find Jillian's number. I wouldn't wait by the phone.
— Sara Benincasa (@SaraJBenincasa) January 8, 2020
Benincasa said there was a “racial component” to Michaels’ comments and suggested the fitness expert “work on her own self-hatred in therapy,” instead of attacking an “award-winning woman of size” like Lizzo.
To many, Lizzo is more than just a pop star: she’s a thumb in the eye of a sexist, patriarchal and bigoted society that seeks to impress archaic values on marginalized groups.
In a Queerty profile published last year, the “Truth Hurts” singer was described as someone who “spreads sex-positivity and body-positivity through her music and her public persona.”
“Lizzo creates music that celebrates the beauty of being different,” Queerty’s Rashad Sultana wrote in a piece celebrating the singer’s selection as one of 50 “trailblazing individuals who actively ensure society remains moving towards equality, acceptance and dignity for all queer people.”
— Sami Schalk (@DrSamiSchalk) October 11, 2019
In October, a gender-studies professor from the University of Wisconsin-Madison fulfilled her wildest dreams when she got to twerk on stage at a Lizzo concert in front of an audience of thousands.