First: If for some reason you’re feeling Lizzo’d-out after skimming the Entertaintment Weekly piece with her, I’d urge you to reconsider, because author Samantha Irby wrote this feature for Time and it’s sizzling with personality and perspective — hers, and her subject’s, as much as essay about Lizzo as it is about what Lizzo has meant to people.
Her lyrics are funny, bawdy and vulnerable: reminders to dump whatever idiot is holding you back and become your own biggest fan. (Even the viral four-second clip of her in a rainbow dress saying, “Bye, bitch!” and cackling as she rides away on the back of a cart is superior to many artists’ entire musical output this year.) Attending a Lizzo concert feels like worshipping at the church of self-love, if your preacher was a pop star living joyfully in a big black body, delivering a sermon of self-acceptance that’s as frank as it is accessible. At a time when Instagrammers are shilling flat-tummy tea or pretending to eat a giant cheeseburger, Lizzo sells something more radical: the idea that you are already enough.
That is particularly appealing this year, with the Internet a scary toilet, measles somehow making a comeback, and everyone just meme-ing themselves through it because no one can afford to go to therapy. In 2019, Lizzo was a beam of light shining through doom and gloom, telling us to love ourselves even if the world doesn’t always love us back. We needed her.
The Internet IS a scary toilet (except for Fug Nation, for which we are, as ever, ENDLESSLY grateful). Irby is a super writer. That bit up there comparing four seconds of Lizzo to the rest of the music scene is a delicious slow burn.
Second: I really love this cover. I have no idea why she has kicked off one shoe, but as a photo it’s so compelling. It’s costumey and worshipful — both her pose, and the way she’s captured in it — and interesting, such the decision to leave the empty shoe sitting just-so on the floor. I love it, and while I know people may take umbrage with how much of her shape is hidden by that disco ball of a dress, I actually think it works here because it makes that beside the point. She is art.
Time’s overall Person of the Year is activist Greta Thunberg:
When Greta was featured by Glamour as a Woman of the Year, commenters pointed out correctly that she isn’t the LONE teen voice of environmentalism, and this story does include the work of others as well:
In Udaipur, India, 17-year-old Vidit Baya started his climate strike with just six people in March; by September, it was 80 strong. In Brasilia, Brazil, 19-year-old Artemisa Xakriabá marched with other indigenous women as the Amazon was burning, then traveled to the U.N. climate summit in New York City. In Guilin, China, 16-year-old Howey Ou posted a picture of herself online in front of city government offices in a solo act of climate protest; she was taken to a police station and told her demonstration was illegal. In Moscow, 25-year-old Arshak Makichyan began a one-man picket for climate, risking arrest in a country where street protest is tightly restricted. In Haridwar, India, 11-year-old Ridhima Pandey joined 15 other kids, including Thunberg, in filing a complaint to the U.N. against Germany, France, Brazil, Argentina and Turkey, arguing that the nations’ failure to tackle the climate crisis amounted to a violation of child rights.
In New York City, 17-year-old Xiye Bastida, originally from an indigenous Otomi community in Mexico, led 600 of her peers in a climate walkout from her Manhattan high school. And in Kampala, Uganda, 22-year-old Hilda Nakabuye launched her own chapter of Fridays for Future after she realized that the strong rains and long droughts that hurt her family’s crops could be attributed to global warming. “Before I knew about climate change, I was already experiencing its effects in my life,” she says.
But it’s undeniable that Greta has been the most high-profile, the most resonant, largely because of the rawness of her speech to the U.N. — and also perhaps a tiny bit because said speech made her a Twitter target for our turnip-in-chief, who feels comfortable mocking a 16-year old girl because her fear for the planet doesn’t align with his corporate interests or those of his pals (and, I would argue, makes him feel small because she espouses so many intellectual qualities he lacks). She is achieving remarkable things on the world stage — that being, she has worked hard, along with her other teen cohorts in so many countries — to make this topic unavoidable, repeatedly challenging the morality and wisdom of the adults in the room who could be doing more but are not.
She has Asperger’s syndrome, which means she doesn’t operate on the same emotional register as many of the people she meets. She dislikes crowds; ignores small talk; and speaks in direct, uncomplicated sentences. She cannot be flattered or distracted. She is not impressed by other people’s celebrity, nor does she seem to have interest in her own growing fame. But these very qualities have helped make her a global sensation. Where others smile to cut the tension, Thunberg is withering. Where others speak the language of hope, Thunberg repeats the unassailable science: Oceans will rise. Cities will flood. Millions of people will suffer.
“I want you to panic,” she told the annual convention of CEOs and world leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January. “I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.”
The full story is here. Hopefully, a byproduct will be that kids value yet another example of a young person making the world listen — and the lesson that it will get ugly, it will not be all Glamour summits and magazine covers, it will piss off people in power and bring out the worst in a lot of them, but that you can persevere and keep talking anyway because you too are brave.