What slur did Lizzo say? Ableist slur controversy explained as 'Grrrls' lyrics come under fire 

Fans demand Lizzo to "remove" Grrrls track following usage of ableist slur (Image via Getty Images)
Fans demand Lizzo to "remove" Grrrls track following usage of ableist slur (Image via Getty Images)

Three-time Grammy winner Lizzo has come under fire for using an ableist slur in her latest song, Grrrls. The track was recently released, sparking outrage from fans. Netizens have since demanded that the pop artist should change the lyrics.

Lizzo has become one of the most famous musicians in recent years, following her popularity on TikTok. Her chart-topping track About Damn Time managed to capture the internet’s attention. Since then, many dance choreographies for her songs have appeared online.

Netizens expected Lizzo’s latest song Grrrls to be a fan favorite. However, it has garnered negative attention. The singer has been accused of using offensive lyrics in the opening verse of her latest song, which reads:

“Hold my bag, b**h (girls)/ Hold my bag/ Do you see this s**t? I’ma sp*z/ I’m about to knock somebody out (girls)”

Netizens condemned the usage of the word “sp*z” in the lyrics. Many found it hard to believe that one of the world's top artists could not recognize a slur in her song. Netizens blamed her label, management, and publishers.


Why were Lizzo’s lyrics deemed offensive?

The Grrrls song sampled Beastie Boys’ Girls. The controversial Licensed To III tune was turned into an energetic girl power anthem. Though the song was meant to be uplifting, it started an important conversation about ableism online.

Fans were upset that Lizzo used the slur "sp*z". The word “sp*z” is a slur often used for those suffering from neurological disabilities.

Spastic is used as a medical term to describe spasms related to high muscle tones. High muscle tone is a condition experienced by people with disabilities who live with excessive stiffness. Medical professionals call this spasticity. This is commonly seen in those who have cerebral palsy.

According to The Mighty, over 77% of people with cerebral palsy have spastic muscles. This causes people to make one’s muscles contract. It can also lead to decreased mobility and muscle twitching.

The word “sp*z” is a slur used by people to describe those who are awkward, easily excitable, and uncool. Now, advocates for those who live with Autism, cerebral palsy, and other difficulties are holding the singer accountable.

Netizens react to Lizzo's Grrrls track

Netizens now demand the song be taken down and re-released without the ableist slur. A few tweets where netizens slammed the singer read:

Ugh the normally brilliant @lizzo has apparently used a disability slur in her new song. It’s gutting to see someone who is so body positive deciding not to include disabled bodies in that. Really hope she takes the education on board, apologies, and removes the word. It’s 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
i just can’t believe that not even 10 seconds into Lizzo’s new song there’s a whole extremely harmful ableist slur said *with her whole chest* that song will have been through 100s of people before being released and not ONE has picked this up and removed it??i just can’t
@lizzo pls change ur new song to take out the ablesist slur. It is not too late to humbly listen and remove a word that is derogatory and harmful and painful. there is no feminism that excludes disabled folks so pls
Maaaan I’m so tired of ableist slurs being thrown around like they’re nothingLizzo, someone who I have loved for years, uploaded a TT with an ableist slur and it has over half a million likes
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.
really disappointing that Lizzo has written an empowerment “anthem” for women but in the first verse she uses the word sp*z, empowering one group doesn’t mean you can use ableist language
it doesn’t matter if lizzo knew the ableist connotations of the word sp*z, it is still problematic. so many people will sing this song and integrate the word into their day to day language.
I’m disappointed in @lizzo for using the word “[email protected]” 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.
Hey @lizzo please remove the word "spaz" from your new song because it's a slur and really offensive to the disabled community From a disappointed fan 😔💔

Lizzo has not responded to the criticism she has amassed. Over 5,000 tweets continue to outpour every hour on the same topic.

This is not the first time the Michigan-native’s song has made headlines. A federal judge recently dismissed a long-running lawsuit surrounding her track Truth Hurts. The artist was accused of lifting the “melody, lyrics and chords” from a demo track titled Healthy. Her most famous line- “I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% that b**ch" was alleged to have been stolen from another artist.

The musician vehemently denied the allegations. The singer and the creators of the song Healthy - Jeremiah Raisen and Justin Rothman, reached a settlement the same in March.

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Edited by Suchitra
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