+
upworthy
Pop Culture

Lizzo removes controversial lyric from her new song after a moving exchange with disabled fans

She knew exactly what to do.

lizzo lyric change, lizzo grrrls

She's the pudding in the proof, alright.

Lizzo—an artist who has made inclusion a part of her platform—received criticism from fans for a word included in her newly released single “Grrrls,” which was seen by some as derogatory toward disabled people.

The song’s opening line includes the word “spazz,” which in broad slang terms can mean “random, wild outburst,” according to Urban Dictionary. As many disability advocates pointed out, however, “spastic” is also used to describe someone with an actual medical condition where they lose control of their muscles (cerebral palsy, in particular). The term has often been used as an insult, implying that someone is “awkward or clumsy.” Hence why many view it as an “ableist slur.”

Fans who were disappointed by its inclusion in her song posted about it online, which eventually caught the attention of Lizzo herself.


"Hey @lizzo, my disability Cerebral Palsy is literally classified as Spastic Diplegia (where spasticity refers to unending painful tightness in my legs) your new song makes me pretty angry + sad. 'S--z' doesn’t mean freaked out or crazy. It’s an ableist slur. It’s 2022. Do better,” one person explained.

Another added: “Oh @lizzo. A VERY influential figure, using the word sp@z in her new song. An offensive and derogatory term. As someone who’s written about the use of disability language, especially slang/slur words which have been used in schools, this is a huge step back. Please, remove it.”

So … what do you do when you say something hurtful, despite that being the furthest thing from what you intended? How do you make it right without compromising your own integrity? You do exactly what Lizzo did.

Without missing a beat, Lizzo made a statement on Instagram that acknowledged the pain caused by using the word, focusing on impact rather than intent. It's a crucial shift that makes an apology authentic.

"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. 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),” the singer wrote.

That simple change made a world of difference. Lizzo soon received an outpouring of love, even from those who initially reached out in retaliation. Amazing things happen when people feel heard.

Some even noted their own discoveries, sharing how they too learned about the word’s other meaning and plan to change moving forward.

lizzo spaz, lizzo twitter

We're all learning together.

Instagram

Even the most conscientious person doesn’t know everything. No one is going to know how every word is translated across cultures and backgrounds. We are all human. But compassion doesn’t have to get lost in translation. There doesn’t have to be drama in allyship. Sometimes it might be as simple as a more mindful approach to our ever-evolving language.

Despite what another Lizzo song suggests, maybe truth doesn’t have to hurt.

All GIFs and images via Exposure Labs.


Photographer James Balog and his crew were hanging out near a glacier when their camera captured something extraordinary.

They were in Greenland, gathering footage from the time-lapse they'd positioned all around the Arctic Circle for the last several years.

Keep ReadingShow less




As much as we'd like to pretend every phrase we utter is a lone star suspended in the space of our own genius, all language has a history. Unfortunately, given humanity's aptitude for treating each other like shit, etymology is fraught with reminders of our very racist world.

Since I have faith that most of you reading want to navigate the world with intelligence and empathy, I figured it'd be useful to share some of the everyday phrases rooted in racist etymology.

Knowledge is power, and the way we use and contextualize our words can make a huge difference in the atmospheres we create.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

A husband took these photos of his wife and captured love and loss beautifully.

I feel as if I were right there with them as I looked through the photos.

Snuggles.

When I saw these incredible photos Angelo Merendino took of his wife, Jennifer, as she battled breast cancer, I felt that I shouldn't be seeing this snapshot of their intimate, private lives.

The photos humanize the face of cancer and capture the difficulty, fear, and pain that they experienced during the difficult time.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

Service dog flunks out of training school in spectacular fashion

The other dogs can't believe what they are seeing.

Double H Canine Academy in Louisville, Kentucky is a place where dog owners can take their rambunctious pets and have them turned into respectable members of the family.

However, as you can tell in this hilarious video, not all dogs are meant to follow orders.

Keep ReadingShow less

Having lived in small towns and large cities in the Pacific Northwest, Southwest, and Midwest, and after spending a year traveling around the U.S. with my family, I've seen first-hand that Americans have much more in common than not. I've also gotten to experience some of the cultural differences, subtle and not-so-subtle, real and not-so-real, that exist in various parts of the country.

Some of those differences are being discussed in a viral thread on Twitter. Self-described "West coaster" Jordan Green kicked it off with an observation about East coasters being kind and West coasters being nice, which then prompted people to share their own social experiences in various regions around the country.

Green wrote:

"When I describe East Coast vs West Coast culture to my friends I often say 'The East Coast is kind but not nice, the West Coast is nice but not kind,' and East Coasters immediately get it. West Coasters get mad.

Niceness is saying 'I'm so sorry you're cold,' while kindness may be 'Ugh, you've said that five times, here's a sweater!' Kindness is addressing the need, regardless of tone.

I'm a West Coaster through and through—born and raised in San Francisco, moved to Portland for college, and now live in Seattle. We're nice, but we're not kind. We'll listen to your rant politely, smile, and then never speak to you again. We hit mute in real life. ALOT.

Keep ReadingShow less
popular

Buffalo woman uses social media to save an elderly man's life after he's trapped in the snow

They don't call Buffalo the city of good neighbors for no reason.

Photo by Patino Jhon on Unsplash
vehicles covered in snow


The city of Buffalo, New York is called the "city of good neighbors." And with a blizzard that has dumped more than 50 inches of snow on them, the world is getting to learn how they earned that name.

A woman named Sha'Kyra Aughtry went viral on Facebook after she reluctantly put out an emotional plea. Aughtry went live on the platform explaining that she heard someone calling for help outside, so she sent her boyfriend out to see who needed assistance. Turns out, it was a 64-year-old developmentally disabled man by the name of Joey White, who was stuck in the cold snow. Aughtry's boyfriend helped the man out of the snow and physically carried him into the house.

White was so frozen that they had to use a hair dryer to melt the ice off of his pants that were frozen to him. The couple also had to cut his socks off along with the bags he was carrying, which were stuck to his hands. White was in a dire position and Aughtry, a mom of three preparing for Christmas, was desperate.

Keep ReadingShow less