My 8-year-old and I tossed our hair back, checked our nails, and sang out, “We’re feeling good as FIRE!” on our morning drive to school today. Okay, yes, Lizzo sings that slightly different, but since the little ones know cursing isn’t encouraged in our house, they’ve substituted this “fire” for “hell.” When I’m alone, I’m all out with those lyrics though!

Lessons from Lizzo

Lizzo is presenting a lot of great lessons for my kids, and I’m loving every. single. one of them. Recently, Lizzo was body-shamed by Jillian Michaels when she said in an interview, “Why are we celebrating her body? Why does it matter? Why aren’t we celebrating her music? ‘Cause it isn’t gonna be awesome if she gets diabetes.”

I get where Jillian is coming from, but as a Mom of three young girls, I can tell you that no, no, no, and no…my girls do not need that message right now. They need be bathed in messages of appropriate health and body love, full stop.

So, here is my public gratitude note for Lizzo, and if you have girls, here are the takeaways from this amazing, talented, gorgeous woman:

We decide the power of words

Let’s start with this cursing situation. In our home, we don’t encourage cursing as a rule, but we’ve also said, “Hey, you know what, it’s just a word. If it comes out, we won’t get mad. And if you’re feeling that song, say the word and say it strong!” They choose not to, and that’s fine. But it’s also fine with us if they choose to belt it out. There are bigger fish to fry with our kids than whether or not they say a word or not, and as I said, it’s just a word. We give words power. We decide what they mean. We decide if they feel good coming out of our bodies or not.

We choose what we focus on

Most things just aren’t a big deal. School is hard, navigating friendships is challenging, and figuring out what you stand for (or don’t) can be tricky. When life gets you down, when you’re “tired of the bullshit” as Lizzo says, then you just “dust your shoulders off, keep it moving.” Lizzo says it with gusto, and the Ryan Girls are right there with you, Lizzo:

Come now, come dry your eyes
You know you a star, you can touch the sky
I know that it’s hard but you have to try

You are beautiful just as you are

All of my girls have had their worries with how their bodies are growing and changing shape as they get older. Physical changes can be a scary, confusing thing. However, my 8-year-old has been particularly worried about her body and body parts lately, and we’ve had many, many talks about how she is beautiful just as she is, body parts are just parts (and they are yours to decide what to do with). But, I have to thank Lizzo for helping me with this lesson. Since my girls are loving this song, I pulled up a YouTube video of Lizzo busting out “Good as Hell” and my youngest watched in amazement. Our conversation went something like this:

Ivey: “That’s her?!”

Me: “Yeah, isn’t she beautiful?”

Ivey: “I didn’t think she would look like that.”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Ivey: “I thought she would be skinny.”

Me: “She has a lot of beautiful curves!”

Ivey, with wide eyes and sparkling smile: “Yes, she does!” [proceeds with her singing and dancing.]

Lizzo is the QUEEN!

But then, I started a recent performance of “Good as Hell” on Saturday Night Live and girl yes, she was feeling good as fire! She was sporting a super cute leather number, looking sleek and sassy. Lizzo is working. it. out., and at one point in the song, she shows her entire backside. I mean showssss her entire backside, and Ivey SQUEALED with both excitement, shock and wonderment. To which I responded, “Yes, girl, YES!” Look at how beautiful and talented she is!”

Raising girls is not for the faint of heart. As a parent, you have to have good self-esteem, in-tact self-confidence, and be willing to let a looooot of things slide (How many eye rolls can one girl have in a single day? This isn’t a trick question. I don’t know the answer.) One thing I know for sure is that we have to be extremely mindful of what we talk about as women around our girls. They are exposed to way more than you realize, and they’re going to look to you as Mom for guidance. Is a bad word really bad? And what’s the big deal with body parts?

The answer is: You decide. Furthermore, your child decides, too, and they’re going to follow your lead. Let’s be body positive and teach our kids to be body positive. They have waaaaay too many other things to worry about than whether or not “hell” is a bad word or not! Also, let’s celebrate our bodies, so they will celebrate theirs, we can end this cycle of body shaming and telling girls how they need to behave.

Image: Andy Witcher