Lizzo has released a new version of “Grrrls” after disability advocates called her out for using the word “spaz” at the start of the songs.
Lizzo is taking the high road. After facing backlash from fans for using the word “spaz” in new single “Grrrls,” the Watch Out for the Big Grrrls host subsequently changed the lyric, also releasing a statement to social media on Monday (June 13).
“It’s been brought to my attention that there is a harmful word in my new song “GRRRLS,” she wrote. “Let me make one thing clear: I never want to promote derogatory language,” she continued. “As a fat black woman in America, I’ve had many hateful words used against me so I understand 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.”
— FOLLOW @YITTY (@lizzo) June 13, 2022
“This is the result of me listening and taking action,” she ended her statement. “As an influential artist I’m dedicated to being part of the change I’ve been waiting to see in the world.”
Prior to changing the lyric, users on TikTok and Twitter discussed the word “spaz” referring to spastic diplegia, a condition that affects motor control in the legs and occasionally associated with mild brain damage.
The Cambridge Dictionary also defines the slur as “an offensive way of saying ‘a stupid person.'”
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
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
Others came to Lizzo’s defense, saying that using “spaz” was an honest mistake.
Also re: Lizzo and the lyric that uses an ableist slur
What’s really making this situation difficult for me as an activist is seeing other activists refusing to give the benefit of the doubt. Like y’all are assuming she used the word maliciously.
— autumn chicken | she/they/he (@dthadirector) June 12, 2022
I've seen a few comments across the internet talking about "Cancelling Lizzo" and that's not what we want – we want to educate her and have the word changed
— Shelby 🖤 (@Shelbykinsxo) June 12, 2022
After the lyric was changed, fans thanked Lizzo for being mindful of their requests.
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
After airing Watch Out for the Big Grrrls on Amazon Prime, the musician last spoke with Variety about releasing a scripted project with Amazon Studios in the future. Lizzo’s fourth album Special is due to release on July 15 via Nice Life Recording Company/Atlantic Records.