This past Friday, Lizzo released “Grrrls,” the latest single off of her upcoming album Special. The song is a bouncy, playful track about her and her girls having each other’s backs. Trouble is, there was a word that Lizzo used in the song’s lyrics that many fans found ableist and incredibly offensive.
In the song’s original lyrics, Lizzo sings, “Hold my bag, bitch, Hold my bag. Do you see this sh*t? I’mma spazz.” The use of the word “spazz” is seen as derogatory to people with cerebral palsy, a condition also known as “spastic diplegia.” Fans and advocates for people with disabilities flooded Lizzo with requests to remove the lyric citing how hurtful it was to them and offensive to many. “Your new song makes me pretty angry + sad. ‘Spaz’ doesn’t mean freaked out or crazy. It’s an ableist slur. It’s 2022. Do better,” tweeted Hannah Diviney, a disability advocate with cerebral palsy.
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. ‘Spaz’ doesn’t mean freaked out or crazy. It’s an ableist slur. It’s 2022. Do better.
— Hannah Diviney (@hannah_diviney) June 12, 2022
Another user said that, “As someone who champions women, plus size people and others whom society treats poorly, Lizzo preaches inclusivity and should do better.”
I’m disappointed in @lizzo for using the word “sp@z” in her new song “Grrrls”. There’s no excuse for using an ableist insult in a song in 2022. As someone who champions women, plus size people and others whom society treats poorly, Lizzo preaches inclusivity and should do better.
— Callum Stephen (He/Him) (@AutisticCallum_) June 11, 2022
Well, Lizzo has listened to these valid concerns and not only issued an apology, but has also changed the lyrics of the song. Her full statement posted to social media is as follows:
“It’s been brought to my attention that there is a harmful word in my new song “GRRRLS”,” a statement on Twitter from the “Truth Hurts” singer began. “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). I’m proud to say there’s a new version of GRRRLS with a lyric change. This is the result of me listening and taking action. As an influential artist I’m dedicated to being part of the change I’ve been waiting to see in the world. xoxo Lizzo”
Now instead of “I’mma spazz,” the lyrics say “Do you see this sh*t, hold me back.” It’s a very simple tweak that doesn’t change the point of the song at all, but now doesn’t offend people with disabilities. The new version has already been replaced in the YouTube link, but the Spotify version of the song had not yet changed as of press time.
As for Hannah Diviney, the advocate who first reached out to her on Saturday, she read Lizzo’s statement and was over the moon. “I’m going to cry. Thank you so much for hearing us Lizzo and for understanding that this was only ever meant gently and being open to learning, it honestly means the world. You’re a real true ally.”
I’m going to cry 😭 Thank you so much for hearing us Lizzo and for understanding that this was only ever meant gently and being open to learning, it honestly means the world ❤️. You’re a real true ally https://t.co/RbQCbAwpR6
— Hannah Diviney (@hannah_diviney) June 13, 2022
Listen to the updated version of “Grrrls” above.
Lizzo is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.