Warning: This story contains language and content that may be disturbing to some readers. Discretion is advised.
International pop star Lizzo has changed a lyric in her new single Grrrls following a backlash from disability activists online who complained the song included an ableist slur.
Grrrls was released by Lizzo, 34, last week and originally contained an offensive term for cerebral palsy (also known as spastic diplegia) in the song’s first verse.
In the song’s original opening, Lizzo sang, “Hold my bag, b—-/ Hold my bag/ Do you see this s—? I’ma spazz.”
Many fans and disability activists voiced their disappointment online, explaining the term “spazz” should be removed, and the song re-recorded.
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
Disability activist Hannah Diviney, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, was one of many who tweeted Lizzo, calling for the lyric change.
“‘Spaz’ doesn’t mean freaked out or crazy” Diviney wrote. “It’s an ableist slur. It’s 2022. 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
The singer clearly took the criticism seriously, as she announced Monday that she has released a new version of the song without the “harmful word.”
The reworked Grrrls track now includes the words “hold me back” in place of the offensive lyric.
“Let me make one thing clear: I never want to promote derogatory language,” Lizzo wrote in a statement posted to social media.
“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 continued.
She claimed the lyric change was a “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,” she concluded before signing off the statement.
Grrrls has been updated on several streaming platforms, including Apple Music, Spotify and YouTube.
Fans and activists rejoiced online at the lyric change, grateful to be heard by the singer.
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
Good for Lizzo. 👏🏿👏🏿🙌🏿
We're all only human and we all sometimes get things wrong. It's how we handle the resultant criticism and move forward that helps to define us.https://t.co/rrEASBV8vI
— Malorie Blackman is away. (@malorieblackman) June 14, 2022
Proud of @lizzo for listening to the disabled community and amending her song. Everyone makes mistakes – what is important is how we respond to them. She could’ve said and done nothing, or gaslit the disabled community and vanished, but she didn’t. This should be the precedent.❤️ https://t.co/wLJPypajr6
— Callum Stephen (He/Him) (@AutisticCallum_) June 14, 2022
According to the government of Canada, a diagnosis of cerebral palsy “is accompanied by a substantial economic and social burden.”
CanChild, an Ontario-based research centre for the study of children and youth with developmental conditions claims one in every 400 Canadians is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, making it the most common physical disability diagnosed in children.
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