When Lizzo released her new single "Grrrls" on June 10, fans noticed a problem. Listeners quickly pointed out there was an ableist slur in the lyrics — "spaz", a shortened version of the word "spastic," which is a term often used as an insult to describe someone who has difficulty controlling their muscles and movement due to a disability.
Hannah Diviney, a disability advocate, on Twitter wrote, “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.”
Callum Stephen, a Twitter user with autism, also commented by saying, “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.”
In less than 48 hours, Lizzo had swiftly responded to the criticism, and re-released the song without the hurtful lyric, making it an apology the majority of the community was more than happy to accept.
“Let me make one thing clear: I never want to promote derogatory language,” Lizzo wrote in a statement posted to social media. “As a fat black woman in America, I’ve had many hurtful words used against me so I overstand the power words can have (whether intentionally or in my case, unintentionally).”
The singer said she had recorded a new version of the song that includes the line “hold me back” in place of the offensive term. "This is the result of me listening and taking action,” the statement said. “As an influential artist I’m dedicated to being part of the change I’ve been waiting to see in the world,” Lizzo stated.
Lizzo’s new version of “Grrrls" can be heard on her upcoming fourth studio album, Special, on July 15, 2022.
For more information on Lizzo, please visit Lizzo Official Website (lizzomusic.com).