If there’s one thing Lizzo is going to do, it’s give the world a bop. However, her latest song “Grrrls” did not deliver. In fact, the track did quite the opposite, sparking a backlash over a lyric that many people in the disabled community say is ableist.
Released on June 10, the song used the term “sp*z,” which is short for spastic. In the first verse of the track, Lizzo sang: “Do you see this sh*t? I’m a sp*z.” Disabled critics on the internet then pointed out that the term is offensive:
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
CW: ableist language
Just listened to that new Lizzo song and flinched at hearing ‘spaz’ used so casually in 2022.
As someone with the condition ‘spaz’ originates from, it’s been used to hurt me and people I care about many times. It’s a slur. It’s unacceptable. Don’t say it.
— Erin (@ezbear) June 12, 2022
After being called out, Lizzo then released a statement on June 13 where she took accountability for her mistake and explained she would change the lyric:
— FOLLOW @YITTY (@lizzo) June 13, 2022
“It’s been brought to my attention that there is a harmful word in my new song “GRRRLS”. Let me make one thing clear: I never want to promote derogatory language,” the “Juice” singer wrote on Twitter. “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.”
Lizzo’s new version of “Grrrls” is out now on music streaming platforms. It replaces the old lyric with “hold me back.”
You may also like: Sign up for the Slice newsletter.