The reviews are in and Lizzo’a brand new reality competition television show “Watch Out for the Big Grrrls” is a hit. The show debuted on Amazon Prime Video this past Friday. I’m guilty of binge watching the unscripted eight-episode series in one day. Oh, yes it's addicting and you can’t help but want to see these curvy women win. The show follows the journey of 13 plus size women as they compete to become Lizzo’s backup dancers “Big Grrrls' ' at the 2021 Bonnaroo Music Festival.
Photo By Tyler Twins For Prime Video
In episode 3, Lizzo who executive produced and hosted the series said, “They don’t want big girls to be sexy, they don’t want big girls to be happy. That’s why this show is so important to me. It's hard to love yourself in a world that doesn't love you back and I’ve been trying to do it so boldly and put myself out there. But when you put yourself out there you get attacked. They don’t want a big bitch to thrive!”
Photo By Tyler Twins For Prime Video
Well one thing is for sure after viewers tune into this show, there's no way they can deny the talent of a big girl dancer. The Hollywood Reporter described the show as ‘America’s Next Top Model’ meets ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ . We'd have to agree but we’d like to point out it's the first of its kind and it's so much more than a reality competition show, it's necessary. Throughout the series there are notable special guest stars, including songstress SZA and Missy Elliott in addition to Lizzo’s creative director and choreographer the talented Tanisha Scoot and O.G. Big Grrls dancer Chawnta’ Marie Van, and Shirlene Quigley and Grace Holden.
Check out the trailer for Lizzo’s Watch Out For The Big Grrrls:
Prior to the release of the series, Disrupshion Magazine got a chance to interview with a few Big Grrrl cast members. Each of the dancers we got to speak with – Asia Banks, Kiara Mooring, Arianna Davis, Isabel Jones and Sydney Bell – are of different backgrounds and sizes. We touched on the show emphasizing the respect plus size dancers deserve and the empowerment they want viewers to see.
Do you feel attitudes toward plus size dancers are getting better or worse from your perspective?
“I definitely feel like it's getting better. At first I felt like it was a gimmick to see a plus size dancer, you know people think we can’t move or have the stamina to keep up. But it's real now and with Lizzo being the bad ass woman she is and putting us on this platform and sharing her space with us it's about to get even more real."
“I personally feel like I am very well known in the modeling and influencer industry as well but I’ve realized a lot of these brands do things not with an authentic or genuine approach. Especially when it comes to when they're looking to scout for larger body dancers to do this commercial or whatever it may be. It just feels like a lot of brands are just hopping on the bandwagon. I feel once the show airs they will understand and come to the forefront with a more authentic and genuine meaning when they bring us on set. Because brands and people have to understand we do have the talent and the power to understand the assignment. Things have been stagnant for plus size dancers, but this show I feel will change the narrative."
How do you feel about the language people use to describe your bodies? Like people fat shame and call you a plus size dancer. Do you ever think why can’t I just be called a dancer? How do you deal with the problematic and implications that come with being a plussize dancer?
"I feel like we live in a world that just has labels and honestly at this point I just feel that’s how it is. I feel with the way we are showing plus size women as dancers even a staight size dancer is gonna be like yesss girl, I wanna be a plus size dancer now. I feel we are just changing the narrative and taking away that connotation people get when they hear plussize or curvy or even fat and we are allowing people to see that its just another label we’re just women with bodies. People are going to see the show and realize plus size women can bring it."
“I don’t like labels, I don’t like addressing myself as a plus size dancer, I’m a dancer and that’s just how it is.Through being in the show I’ve recognized there's such a big problem within the dance industryand how women are treated. I realized these labels are necessary to shine a light oon this stigmatized group of people. I think these labels are important until we feel comfortab;e with getting rid of them. I’m personally not comfortable with the word fat being all the traumatic experiences I’ve been through and how people have tried to attack me with that word. But, fat also comes with the word beautiful.
“The labeling has never really bothered me.The words shine a light on full figured dancers that need to be shined. Using the term plus size is a step in a better direction than using the word fat, it's kind of like taking your power back and letting the world know you take pride in who you are. Personally, I refer to thick women as “thick madams.” I just think we are queens and need to be referred to as. It’s all about the power you give the word. If you take your power back it can’t have any negative connotation."
What are some steps that professional dance institutions can take to make spaces more welcome to curvaceous dancers?
"We can start with the uniforms and the exclusivity in sizes lets start there. It's been years and there has been a lack of update in the sizing."
"I agree with starting with the uniforms. In Addition to choosing the people who are the best for the jobs. In this industry a lot of times when a plus size dancer is auditioning you’ll have some educators who don’t even look up from their paper when you’re auditioning. But we can be the best person or student for the job but you automatically write us off because of the way we look. The same with race and everything. Just choose the best person for the job and the one who has the best potential and it will be a fair game. Equality is so essential and representation matters. "
“It also starts with who runs these organizations and teaches these classes. Start with the big people who are making these dance decisions at these dance institutions, high schools and colleges and check their backgrounds and make sure they are open to bigger bodies."
What are some challenges you faced to find “your people” or a safe space to dance freely?
“To be honest it took me a super long time to find my people. I don’t think I’ve really found my people until I got on to this show. I grew up in a predominantly white world in general so I was already sticking out like a sore thumb because of my race but also because of my size. I always had to prove to everyone I was good enough. Once you have a community around you it's 10 times better having people that affirm you and having people that help you affirm yourself is an important thing. Maybe this show will help other people find their people and create an environment where they feel seen, by just watching the show.
“Algorithms are a big thing with social media nowadays. When you see those videos and reels pop up, pour into the energy you want to see on your social media. I was a part of a plus size dance team for my college but I agree with Ari. I didn't find my people until Lizzo gave me an opportunity for this show. "
Lizzo is the queen of challenging Hollywood’s beauty standards and everything in between. She’s an American popstar and unapologetic about living a bold and fierce plus size life. So with 'watch Out For The Big Grrrls' she's pushing to put plus size dancing to the forefront. In your own words, what does this opportunity mean for you and the culture of plus size dancing?
It means the world to know we’ve been granted the opportunity and the space to change the narrative. So many of us have been told no so many times. For me dance was done after college because I didn’t see the representation I would have liked to see. This opportunity is just so surreal and I’m excited for the younger generation to see this and see themselves in all of us on the show. Just want them to know your body, your image won’t stop your potential from being the best person you can be or doing these outrageous opportunities. This show will change the world.
We're sure all of he ladies would agree with Sydney. You be the judge. Watch the show now, available to stream exclusively on Amazon prime Video.