Lizzo’s inclusive line of shapewear is reinventing the genre
Bridgerton is back and so is allll that comes with it: me doing my best Lady Whistledown impression by hounding all my friends for gossip, magazines featuring the latest stars in every issue, and the entire world consumed with a fresh fervor for regency fashion.
While there’s no love lost for the actual royal family right now — from Meghan and Harry’s tell-all interview to Will and Kate’s controversial tour of the Caribbean — the imagined version of royal drama and glamor is a compelling world to escape into.
The first season of the Netflix phenomenon premiered at the peak of the pandemic, so most of our passion for Bridgerton was quite inhibited. Yes, we binged-watched it from bed, and maybe let out some effusive tweets about Rege-Jean Page, but then it was over and that was it. Now, the world is way more open, meaning the world of Bridgerton and its obsessive fans are no longer confined to the screen — or their bedrooms.
People are throwing elaborate Bridgerton- themed parties, and there are even official Bridgerton Experience Balls being thrown around the world. The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience is an opportunity for people to indulge in the splendor of that alluring, magical world. Fans attend in droves, dressed in their finery to live out their regal fantasies.
But Bridgerton isn’t the only drama getting love for its costume department. The new HBO series The Gilded Age is full of smashing skirts and astonishing gowns. Even The Met Gala 2022 is embracing this sartorial moment with this year’s theme “Gilded Glamor.”
With all the ardor for drama and detail, I’ve seen some posts on the internet floating around, wondering why don’t we dress in this fabulousness anymore? The resounding response to those inquiries? It was uncomfortable as hell.
It’s one thing to don a devastating dress and pretend to be a royal at a Bridgerton Experience Ball. But it’s a completely different thing to strap yourself into a steel-boned corset every morning, pulling the strings taut, and molding yourself into an unnatural, hour-glass shape.
Although most of us are lucky enough not to experience this every day, women are still expected to cleave themselves for appearances’ sake. Despite how times have changed and how fashion changes with them, a social expectation remains. Women must look a certain way to conform to outmoded standards.
After all, what is shapewear but a modern corset?
Shapewear isn’t merely elaborate Spanx contraptions, though this did define the trend for a while. The latest shapewear epoch is sexy — or supposed to be. Take Kim Kardashian’s Skims brand. This contempo shapewear line also promotes itself as loungewear — that is if you want to loll about your home in unbreathable, body-constricting spandex.
Skims has acquired a cult-like status for its body “contouring” effect. Similar to that phase when the Kardashians tried to convince us all to buy waist trainers, Skims is their attempt to establish one body type as “correct” and shame us into buying anything that will get us closer to achieving it.
But, the times might be a-changing. Grammy-award-winning singer Lizzo has launched her own shapewear brand under the Fabletics umbrella and she’s hoping to completely transform the industry.
Lizzo’s cheeky brand, Yitty, is first and foremost, wonderfully size-inclusive. And not just in size range, but in rhetoric. The labeling starts with the biggest size first, with Lizzo referring to its sizes from 6X-XS, instead of starting with XS as most brands do. How wise. And how absolutely right!
What’s revolutionary about this shapewear brand is that it isn’t reinforcing a tired old standard, or asking bodies to contort themselves to fit into a particular sized box. It’s doing the opposite. Yitty offers the opportunity for people to reframe how they view themselves and on their own terms. According to Lizzo in The New York Times, she seeks to “give everyone the opportunity to speak for themselves when it comes to how their body should look and how they should feel in their body.”
To Lizzo, shapewear was one of the last fashion holdouts that needed to be redefined for inclusivity. Sure, Kim Kardashian made her trifling contribution, but the basic tenets of shapewear have remained in place for far too long — harkening back to Bridgerton-era discomfort and restriction. “Shapewear was one of those untouched constructs in fashion people weren’t really messing with — or thinking about,” Lizzo said. ”At a certain point I started to make my own little pieces: little moments here, little moments there, little booty lift here. I wanted to share that.”
According to Lizzo, this is all about taking control. For too long, women have been held to other people’s standards and ordered to prioritize other people’s opinions about their worth. Even Lizzo, who lives in the public eye, finds herself getting caught up in how other people see her. But she knows well enough to simply shake it off and lean into her own exuberant self-confidence. She wants to share that confidence with her audience with Yitty.
“I’m selling that more than I’m selling thongs, more than I’m selling bodysuits or I’m selling shapewear,” Lizzo said. “I’m selling a mentality that ‘I can do what I want with my body, wear what I want and feel good while doing it.’” No matter what kind of body you’re showing off, it’s not, “‘Oh, how brave.’No. No more of that. Nothing to see here but a body, just like your body.”
The popular fat-activism Instagram account, the Unplugged Collective, raised the question: can shapewear be inclusive? Or is it doomed to be constricting? After all, why do we have to modify our shape? Can’t we just let our bodies, bellies and all, be free?
Their audience sounded off in the comments. For some, throwing away their old shapewear has been a liberating part of fat acceptance. Going back could feel regressive, they expressed, even for Lizzo.
However, others love the support that shapewear can provide, but hate the discomfort and pinching. They argued that bras can be considered a form of shapewear, and if we treat other shapewear as supportive rather than slimming or contouring, it can be liberating rather than shameful.
Some users use shapewear to alleviate chafing or back pain. One user shared that — being on the spectrum — the compression was good for their mental health. For people who need shapewear for their daily lives, Lizzo’s comfortable and inclusive brand is a gamechanger.
This is precisely what she’s going for. In fact, Lizzo didn’t even want to call it shapewear. She wanted to dub her new brand “bodywear” but people weren’t sure what that meant. Either way, Lizzo hopes to change people’s lives in real, tangible ways.
No matter what form it takes, “I want to be a world changer,” she says. “I wasn’t just making cool music — my art always has a bigger purpose.”
“This is something I’m building that can hopefully last for generations — not just the company or the product, but the mentality of Yitty,” she continued. “This idea of liberation with your body and being able to express it in different ways can go so, so far.”
The new single "Nobody Ain't You" is out now
Interview by Jordan Edwards
In 2015, Christian Lalama started a YouTube channel. He covered "Piano Man" (complete with harmonica solo), and wowed his elementary school with a version of Elton John's "Your Song." Momentum grew, and by 2018, the young Canadian singer caught the attention of record labels. He signed with Atlantic and broke through with the 2020 viral single "Miss Me."
While many artists continued to release new music during the early days of COVID, Lalama took a break. He continued to release covers, but the output of original music slowed down.
Now 18, Lalama has reemerged with a grown up sound. He released "Girlfriend," which riffs on the 2002 Fablous hit "Trade It All (Part 2)," in February. Now comes the new single "Nobody Ain't You." The song is a laid-back summer jam about reconciling a relationship he doesn't want to end.
As he enters this new phase of his career, Lalama reflects on how he got here and looks forward to the future.
Tell me about the new single “Nobody Ain’t You.” Is it about a real person?
“Nobody Ain’t You” is a song about the heartbreak that comes along with the end of a relationship . . . not so much about a specific person but about vulnerability and the desperation of not wanting to lose someone.
I love the vibe of the music video. Where did that bus come from?
The bus was a really cool aspect of the video because it allowed for us to build a setting that showed the honeymoon phase of the relationship and the reunion at the end of the video. But where it came . . . hmmm good question . . . how DID that bus get there?
A lot of artists your age are into the early 2000s. You sampled the 2002 song “Trade It All (Part 2)” on your last single “Girlfriend”. What’s the appeal of that era?
The first time I heard it, I instantly loved the retro vibe and it made me nostalgic for the music I listened to growing up.
You took an almost two-year break from releasing music. What prompted that and how did you spend your time?
That period of time was definitely not a vacation from music but instead gave me time to really focus on my sound and perfect my future releases. I spent all of quarantine grinding out original music as well as continuing my weekly covers and I’m so glad to finally be releasing music once again.
What do you remember about the early days of your YouTube channel? Did you have the goal of getting signed, or were you just having fun?
The early days of my YouTube channel was definitely more about me having fun, making funny vlogs, and posting covers to songs I liked. As my subscribers grew, I started to take it more seriously. Getting signed to Atlantic was a huge reassurance that all the time I’d put into my craft paid off.
You grew up in a small town in Ontario. Where did you perform as a kid (besides your school)?
I was in many bands when I was younger, from a duo with my brother preforming at small restaurants to a rock band with other young and super-talented musicians. We played live for thousands of people. Performing is easily my favorite aspect of being an artist.
What do you do to prep for a studio session?
I typically do vocal (funny sounding) exercises that definitely annoy everyone I’m with, but it gets the job done.
How much are you involved in the production process?
I record myself and comp most of my vocals. My dad is actually very skilled with most production software and is always willing to help me make my demos sound great before sending them off to be mastered.
What can fans expect from you in the next few months?
An absolute gem of a summer song that will be playing whenever you see a car with their windows down!
Christian Lalama - Nobody Ain't You [Official Music Video] www.youtube.com
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The new single "Fragments" is out now
Photos and Interview by Meghan Marshall
On her new single "Fragments," Miette Hope continues her warm blend of acoustic and electronic elements (think Joni Mitchell channeling Radiohead). This time, though, she produced the song herself. The track is part of an upcoming EP tentatively set for a fall release.
We talked to the New York singer-songwriter about how the song came together and how she channels past trauma to create her signature sound.
The production on your songs is electronic, vivacious, energetic, and theatrical. This presents a juxtaposition to your introspective, melancholy lyrics. Tell us about the relationship between your production and lyric writing, and how you approach them when working on a song.
To me, a great song should be able to stand on its own. Once you know you have that, there are so many directions you can take the production from there. Production can elevate a song or it can compromise it, so I think it plays a super important role in how the lyrics and melody are perceived. My lyrics are much like a poetic diary, sharing my deepest thoughts and feelings and turning them into something consumable. The feelings expressed on paper represent something raw and complex that deserve a sonic experience deeper than words can convey. My main collaborator Ariza, who produced my 2019 EP Pendulum, and is the second half to my side project, The Natural Synthetic, is a musical soulmate and has an incredibly intuitive way of sonically expressing the concepts behind our work together. I learned much of what I know about music production from his influence and have since embarked on a music production journey of my own, co-producing our recent releases together as well as creating my own fully self-produced project and producing for other artists.
Your writing explores pain and grief. You can see this in your self-produced multimedia project Pendulum, in which you explore the pain of losing your father. How did creative expression aid you in healing?
Pendulum was a huge emotional undertaking for me, but in a way that really aided my healing experience. Thinking and talking about my loss often felt uncomfortable, but writing about it gave me an opportunity to see it in a new light. What I came to understand about these old feelings stored away is that there were many people in the world who had experienced grief, addiction, mental illness, and had no outlet to express or process through these feelings. My ability to transform an emotional experience into something tangible and even beautiful has always been extremely healing for me. I started to realize that it could be healing for others as well. I knew that it was important for me to share this story with the world. The songs were written over the course of three days with Ariza and the videos were shot over the course of three days with help from friends in film. I wrote the screenplay and co-directed it with my talented friend Andrew Garcia who's known for making pieces that are very emotionally moving. The music videos are meant to take place as a 3 part short film following the character through internal isolation, external searching and overindulgence, and finally a balance of the internal and external, acceptance and a sense of wholeness.
You are proudly bisexual. How has your queerness played a role in your music? Do you have any queer musicians you look up to?
As a queer artist, I think representation is extremely important. When I was growing up, there weren’t many artists I could look up to, so it's important for me to be my most authentic and proud self to show anyone looking up to me that it's okay to be who you are. I wouldn't say many of my songs are specifically about being queer, but I write about my experiences as a queer person and am open about my sexuality with my fans. I feel really lucky to now be living in a time when there are so many incredible LGBTQIA+ artists gaining success and recognition. There is still so much work to be done, but I'm proud of how far we've come.
We worked together on the imagery for your single "Fragments." There is an allusion in the song and the imagery to Humpty Dumpty, as an icon of fragility. In what ways do you feel connected to this character?
Icon of fragility, I like that. To me, Humpty Dumpty is one of those rare characters that there seems to be no resolve for. Humpty sits, falls, breaks and can't be put back together. That sounds dark I know, but I think I relate to the story because in my journey through healing trauma and getting older, I've come to the realization that the things I've been through will always be with me. The pain of loss isn't something that ever really goes away, so rather than trying to fix what's broken, I've found more peace in accepting these parts of me that are tattered and torn. Framing these complex emotions through the lens of a nursery rhyme is my way of comforting my inner child and shifting the perspective on the way I view myself.
In what ways did writing "Fragments" help you understand yourself if any?
"Fragments" was one of those songs that flowed out of me. It almost feels as though it wrote itself. Having gone through losing a parent at a young age, I think I've always kind of identified with the idea of being "broken." But over time, I've found a beauty in that rawness. For a long time, I felt like I needed to be strong, but after spending so much quiet time reflecting for most of 2020, I reconnected with a fragility I had neglected growing up. Though the sentiment of the song is melancholy, I found the writing process for this song to be particularly healing, and the production ended up sounding uplifting and hopeful in a way.
I know this EP is self produced, and was described by you as “the most me.” In what ways does this EP feel authentically you?
Having the ability to translate exactly what's in my head into the DAW is one the most freeing and exciting experiences I've had in my career so far. I have always wanted to be a producer and have had wonderful experiences sharing ideas with other producers and collaborating. But for a long time, I guess I didn't trust myself to commit to doing it myself. There is definitely an initial learning curve to learning how to use production software and I felt intimidated by that for way longer than I should have. But when the world shut down, I had time to myself to really sit down and learn. This EP sounds exactly how I want it to sound, because I was able to have full control over every sound, chord, and melody.
This EP is very personal and raw. What was the process of making it? Where do you draw inspiration from when starting a project?
The concept behind a lot of the songs, to be broad, is the human condition. I think it’s very reflective specifically on my journey learning lessons in love and life. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and have had to unlearn behaviors that I adapted based on my trauma. The lyrics in these songs talk a lot about the trials and tribulations of growing into young adulthood. Without being self-deprecating, I find it to be very transparent about my shortcomings and an honest expression of how I am learning to be a better person through the mistakes I’ve made. I took inspiration from a few different producers and artists that inspire me like James Blake, Jim-E Stack, Radiohead, Arlo Parks, Elliott Smith and Portishead.