I brush your notions of beauty off my shoulder like dust

I brush your notions of beauty off my shoulder like dust

I admit I’m more of an old school banger. My lists are filled with ‘70s love songs and ‘80s metal. I have hours of hardcore techno that I put on when I need music that propels me through the day. Some of the music of today feels air-brushed with the same poppy-breathy-bouncy beats.

Someone told me summer hits are remanufactured with the same notes, over and over, to make you fall in love with the beat the same way you did last summer. We’re led into a false sense of what’s popular and pleasing. I’m just off an 18-hour road trip, and by the end of it, I didn’t want to hear one more note of music.

Except for one that went something like, “Why’re men great ‘til they gotta be great,” and I just wanted to dive inside and swim around for a bit. I try to stay musically relevant until the days when the only thing I want to hear is Bread singing slow love songs back into my ear. But this song? This singer? She is everything plus a huge bowl of confidence I wish I’d had back in my day. Her love of self and the way she shows it make me want to jump on stage with her to pound out a jam.

Her name is Lizzo. Remember it.

Why should she matter to you? Maybe she doesn’t or never will, and maybe you’ll never hear one note of her music. That’s OK.

There were many of us that never had body confidence because society said we weren’t beautiful, that our bodies were unacceptable. Culture said my place was the pretty plus section at Sears and that to attempt to be anything else was laughable. So I didn’t attempt anything else until I grew up and realized the façade that had created an invisible barrier. And I tore it down. Lizzo is tearing it down too.

Entertainers like her may not be your cup of tea. They don’t have to be. What needs to be recognized in a world where we have insults being hurled from our very own leaders is that those who seek to keep others down live in their own world of insecurity.

From so very young we teach our kids not to be bullies, to be kind and to love others. Somewhere along the line society tells us differently, and we begin to sift and separate those we see as different, somehow not as cool or beautiful.

This kind of thinking is reinforced by cliques, by those in power (whether in school hierarchies or governmental ones), and we fall into a way of believing we’re better than others because we’re skinny or rich or can dunk a basketball.

In Lizzo I see a shedding of stereotypes. When I see her onstage (or even hear her on my radio) and see her shake it the same way others do, in ways someone else wouldn’t be looked at crossways, I take joy in the way people’s mouths drop open.

Barriers are meant to be torn down, cast out, disassembled until nothing but dust. Her confidence restores even my own patched-up heart, one that societally was meant to feel unworthy.

I want to believe we are better, that we’re climbing out of those stereotypes. I don’t believe we are. We’ve been ushered into an era that says, “I know it’s mean to say you are fat, but you are,” and with this unvarnished so-called truth-telling, we’ve lost a bit of our humanity.

There is a violent, unnecessary road I could go down, naming each bit of “truth-telling” that’s helped us lose our way. It’s a brutal way of not co-existing with others, with thinking they’re less. It’s a way of putting others down because they don’t look like you.

I will shriek to the heavens while claiming the beauty that clashes with societal norms. I will rail with fist raised against those who seek to separate us by difference. And I will sing at the top of my lungs with those that gather themselves to show us we’re all uniquely the same and that our erroneous concept of what’s beautiful and acceptable is but a glimmer of dust we brush off our shoulders.

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