Lizzo removes ableist slur from hit new single after backlash

Jun 14 2022, 6:11 pm

Editor’s note: This article mentions and discusses the use of an ableist slur.

Award-winning singer and flautist Lizzo dropped her new single “GRRRLS” last week, and was called out by fans and activists for her use of an ableist slur in the lyrics.

The song picked up on social media almost immediately after its release. Several TikTokers brought attention to the use of the ableist slur “sp*zz” in the opening lyrics. It went something like:

Hold my bag, bitch (girls)
Hold my bag
Do you see this shit? I’ma sp*zz

“Sp*zz” is a shortened, derogatory version of the word “spastic,” which refers to the involuntary muscle contractions that can often occurs in people with cerebral palsy and other paralysis-inducing or mobility-inhibiting conditions.

After listening keenly to the criticism, Lizzo decided to change ableist lyrics to the following.

Hold my bag, bitch (girls)
Hold my bag
Do you see this shit? Hold me back

She posted a message on her social media about the update.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Lizzo (@lizzobeeating)

“It’s been brought to my attention that there is a harmful word in my new song ‘GRRRLS.’ Let me make one thing clear: I never want to promote derogatory language,” Lizzo began.

“As a fat Black woman in America, I’ve had many hurtful words used against me so I overstand the power words can have (whether intentionally or in my case, unintentionally). I’m proud to say there’s a new version of ‘GRRRLS’ with a lyric change.”

Fans, disability rights activists, and industry peers appreciated Lizzo was swiftly and proactively removing the ableist slur from the song.

Many who had originally complained about the lyrical insensitivity welcomed Lizzo once again with arms wide open.

In the aftermath of the changes, many have brought up the anti-Black misogyny that came with the flood of complaints guised as anti-ableism activism.

Twitter user @fairyfemmes also highlighted the case as an example of how Black artists being overly scrutinized for their missteps whereas the standard for white artists’ accountability is much more lenient.

“This is the result of me listening and taking action,” said Lizzo, concluding her post. “As an influential artist I’m dedicated to being part of the change I’ve been waiting to see in the world. Xoxo, Lizzo.”

Lizzo is slated to tour North America this fall and will be performing in Toronto and Vancouver in October and November respectively. More on The Special Tour here.

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