Lizzo has been one of pop music’s most outspoken proponents of body positivity in recent years. She’s been quite upfront about the societal constraints she’s encountered as a Black woman of size, not only as a child but also as a global celebrity. As a result, she took it upon herself to help share the history of twerking with the rest of the world, as this ass-shaking dance is also a big part of her own self-acceptance. In the interview, she admits that her butt was her least favorite feature of her body, and that it was only by embracing twerking that she was able to see it as a positive.
She also wants to be explicit about the rich history of twerking, which is derived from Black people and culture and has a direct relationship to West African dances such as mapouka. The dance was brought to America via the transatlantic slave trade, as Lizzo explains, and she traces it back to Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith, as well as Josephine Baker and others. She asserts, “Black people will not be removed from the history, creation, and innovation of twerking.” And it will undoubtedly be stars like Lizzo who ensure that history is preserved. Check out the video above to see the entire discussion.