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Lizzo’s Ups and Downs Over the Years: Grammy Wins, Sexual Harassment Lawsuit and More

Lizzo Ups and Downs Over the Years
Lizzo at the 65th Annual Grammy Awards Broadimage/Shutterstock

Lizzo has made headlines over the years, both for her empowering music and controversial moments.

In 2017 and 2019, the singer was accused of plagiarism by British singer Mina Lioness and producer Justin Raisen over her 2017 single “Truth Hurts.” The drama surrounded one of the song’s opening lines — “I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% that bitch” — for which Lioness and Raisen each took credit for writing.

Lizzo (real name Melissa Jefferson) also came under fire in August 2023 after three of her former backup dancers filed a highly publicized lawsuit against her. According to court documents obtained by Us Weekly, the group sued the Grammy winner for sexual and religious harassment, disability discrimination, creating a hostile work environment and more.

She later denied the dancers’ claims by calling them “too outrageous not to be addressed,” alleging she is “not the villain” the lawsuit portrays her to be.

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Scroll below for a look back at Lizzo’s ups and downs over the years:

Debut Album (May 2014)

Five years before her breakout record Cuz I Love You, Lizzo released her debut album, Lizzobangers.

Postmates Scandal (September 2019)

A few months after Cuz I Love You’s release, Lizzo received backlash for calling out a Postmates delivery person who stole her order. “Hey @Postmates this girl Tiffany W. stole my food. She lucky I don’t fight no more,” she tweeted at the time alongside a photo of the woman.

Some people were quick to criticize her inclusion of the Postmates worker’s photo in her tweet, with one Twitter user writing, “This is ridiculous Lizzo, u could have dealt with that privately instead of shaming a woman who was probably hungry. It’s only food u can reorder it.”

Another fan tweeted: “Publicly shaming someone in the service industry (esp. when you’re wealthy) is worse than stealing food.”

Others came to Lizzo’s defense as one fan wrote at the time, “Tiffany stole it, this is not fair.”

Postmates Support later replied to the singer’s complaint via Twitter. “Hi! We’re sorry to hear you’ve had a less than satisfactory experience on our app,” they tweeted. . “Would you mind DM’ing the email address linked to your account, so we can look further into this for you?”

Lizzo Ups and Downs Over the Years
Lizzo at the 51st Annual NAACP Image Awards John Salangsang/Shutterstock

Plagiarism Controversy (2017 – 2019)

Lizzo was initially accused of plagiarism for “Truth Hurts” in February 2017 after Lioness claimed she stole the song’s opening line from her tweet which read, “I did a DNA test and found out I’m 100% that bitch.”

She followed up her accusation by tweeting Lizzo: “Now everyone believes those were your words, when in fact they were mine. My creativity, my wit and my comedy.”

Lizzo responded with a tweet of her own in February 2018. “Truth Hurts was written in June fyi— someone made a meme on IG that said “I’m 100% that bitch” and we were inspired, I give that meme credit when I talk about making the song,” she wrote. “I’ve never seen ur viral tweet but I’m glad it exists.”

Though Lioness ultimately received a writing credit for the track, Raisen later claimed the lyric was taken from a song that he and others helped Lizzo write in 2017 titled “Healthy.” Lizzo filed a lawsuit against Raisen and the group, which was ultimately settled privately in March 2022.

3 Grammy Wins (January 2020)

Lizzo scored her first three Grammys for Best Pop Solo Performance, Best Traditional R&B Performance and Best Urban Contemporary Album, taking home awards in three of the eight categories she was nominated in.

Juice Cleanse Criticism (December 2020)

Known for promoting body positivity, Lizzo faced criticism from some fans for putting herself on a juice cleanse. Stating that she initially wanted to “stress eat and do things that were, like, kind of self-harming,” Lizzo explained in an Instagram video that she felt “amazing” nine days into the cleanse.

After some fans expressed their disappointment to see her promote “disordered eating,” Lizzo clarified her reasoning for doing the cleanse via her Instagram Story.

“As you know I would normally be so afraid and ashamed to post things like this online, because I feel like as a big girl people just expect if you are doing something for health you’re doing it for like, a dramatic weight loss — and that is not the case,” she wrote at the time. “In reality, November stressed me the f–k out. I drank a lot, I ate a lot of spicy things and things that f–ked my stomach up.”

She continued: “I wanted to reverse it and get back to where I was. I’m so proud of myself. I’m proud of my results. My sleep has improved, my hydration, my inner peace, my mental stability, my f—ing body, my f—ing skin, the whites of my eyes, I feel and look like a bad bitch, and I think like, that’s it. I’m a big girl who did a smoothie detox, and I wanted to share that with you guys.”

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Chris Brown Comments (October 2021)

Lizzo was filmed calling Chris Brown her “favorite person in the whole f—king world” while asking for a picture with the musician at an event. The encounter sparked backlash online due to Brown’s history of abusive behavior, most notably physically assaulting his ex-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009. Lizzo did not publicly address her comment at the time.

Lizzo Ups and Downs Over the Years
Lizzo at the 40th Brit Awards Anthony Harvey/Shutterstock

Lyric Change (June 2022)

Lizzo apologized for using the ableist term “spaz” in the lyrics of her song “GRRRLS” off her album Special. “I never want to promote derogatory language,” she wrote in an Instagram statement following backlash from disability activists. “As a fat black woman in America, I’ve had many hurtful words used against me so I [understand] the power words can have (whether intentionally or in my case, unintentionally.)”

She went on to announce that a new version of the song would be released without the controversial lyric. “As an influential artist I’m dedicated to being part of the change I’ve been waiting to see in the world,” her statement continued.

Body Shaming Clapback (August 2022)

Lizzo slammed comedian Aries Spears at the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards after he described her as looking “like the s—t emoji” in an interview. “I want to say thank you so much for supporting me and loving me. And now, to the bitches that got something to say about me in the press,” she said during her acceptance speech for the Video for Good award. “You know what, I’m not going to say nothing. They’ll be like, ‘Lizzo, why don’t you clap back?’ Because bitch, I’m winning, hoe! Big bitch is winning, hoe!”

First Emmy Win (September 2022)

Lizzo found herself halfway to becoming an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony) winner after her reality competition series Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls won Best Competition Program at the 2022 Emmy Awards.

“When I was a little girl, all I wanted to see was me in the media. Someone fat like me, Black like me, beautiful like me,” she said while accepting the award on stage. “If I could go back and tell little Lizzo something, I’d be like, ‘You gonna see that person but, bitch, it’s gonna have to be you.’”

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People’s Champion Honoree (December 2022)

Lizzo was honored for breaking barriers in the music industry with the People’s Champion Award at the 2022 People’s Choice Awards. While accepting the award, she used her time to highlight several inspiring activists who “deserve the spotlight.”

‘The Mandalorian’ Cameo (April 2023)

The Michigan native fulfilled her childhood dream of joining the Star Wars universe by appearing in an episode of The Mandalorian season 3 alongside Jack Black. “When I was a young girl my dad introduced me to Star Wars like a rite of passage. The trilogy’s are his favorite movies and quickly became mine,” she captioned a slideshow of pics from set via Instagram, including a selfie with one of her favorite characters, Baby Yoda (a.k.a. Grogu).

Her caption continued: “When Jon Favreau called me and offered the role of The Dutchess I cried all day wishing my dad was still with us cus he’d be so proud. Star Wars was a dream I never thought was possible— but thanks to Jon, Bryce [Dallas Howard] and everyone in the galaxy I am now part of the ever-expanding saga of the stars. I am in honorable company and forever grateful. This is The Way…. and May the Force be with you.”

Lizzo Ups and Downs Over the Years
Lizzo at Global Citizen Live Stephen Lovekin/Shutterstock

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit (July 2023)

Lizzo’s former dancers Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez filed a lawsuit against Lizzo, her tour company, Big Grrrl Big Touring, Inc. (BGBT) and dance captain Shirlene Quigley, claiming they experienced inappropriate behavior from the star and her staff during their time as backup dancers.

While competing on Watch Out for the Big Grrrls, Davis and Williams alleged that Quigley would “simulate oral sex on a banana in front of the rest of the dance cast” and make multiple comments about Davis’ virginity. Additionally, they felt required to participate in a nude photo shoot out of fear that they would be eliminated for not doing so.

The group also claimed that while on tour with Lizzo, she took the dancers to a club in Amsterdam’s Red Light District. It was there that Lizzo “began inviting cast members to take turns touching the nude performers, catching dildos launched from the performers’ vaginas, and eating bananas protruding from the performers’ vaginas.” The court documents continued: “Lizzo then turned her attention to Ms. Davis and began pressuring Ms. Davis to touch the breasts of one of the nude women performing at the club.”

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Other allegations listed in the lawsuit include dancers not being allowed to take on other jobs while on hiatus from tour, despite not being paid during the break, David being fired from her role after allegedly filming a dance team meeting and Rodriguez losing her job for confronting Lizzo about the nature of David and William’s firings.

Days after the lawsuit was filed, Lizzo called her former dancers’ accusations “false” in a lengthy statement. “These sensationalized stories are coming from former employees who have already publicly admitted that they were told their behavior on tour was inappropriate and unprofessional,” she stated. “As an artist, I have always been very passionate about what I do. I take my music and my performances seriously because at the end of the day, I only want to put out the best art that represents me and my fans.”

Lizzo went on to note that she’s had to make “hard decisions” with her team but has never intentionally made people not feel “valued as an important part of the team.” She concluded her statement by writing, “I’m hurt but I will not let the good work I’ve done in the world be overshadowed by this. I want to thank everyone who has reached out in support to lift me up during this difficult time.”

Lizzo's Ups and Downs Over the Years: Grammy Wins, Sexual Harassment Lawsuit and More
Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Seemingly Quitting Music

Lizzo took to Instagram in March 2024 to air her frustrations with her critics, seemingly quitting the entertainment industry in the process.

“I’m getting tired of putting up with being dragged by everyone in my life and on the internet,” the lengthy statement began. “All I want is to make music and make people happy and help the world be a little better than how I found it. But I’m starting to feel like the world doesn’t want me in it.”

The musician went on to say that she’s “constantly up against lies being told about me for clout & views” and feels like “the butt of the joke every single time because of how I look.”

She concluded the post: “I didn’t sign up for this s—t. I QUIT.”

The three backup dancers suing Lizzo for alleged sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment subsequently subsequently issued a statement slamming the post.

“It’s a joke that Lizzo would say she is being bullied by the internet when she should instead be taking an honest look at herself. Her latest post is just another outburst seeking attention and trying to deflect from her own failings as she continues to blame everyone else for the predicament she is in,” the dancers’ attorney Ron Zambrano said in a statement shared with multiple outlets. “She has thrown these childish tantrums before. No one actually believes she is quitting music.”

Stefan Friedman, a spokesperson for Lizzo, fired back with a statement of his own, telling Billboard, “With nearly half his case dismissed, 18 independent witnesses siding with Lizzo and no settlement on the way to get him his tasty contingency fee, Ron has started making wild personal attacks that have absolutely nothing to do with the clients who he is supposedly representing. We would humbly recommend that Ron start representing his clients and stop representing just himself.”

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