Lizzo has responded to allegations that she contributed to a hostile work environment fraught with sexual harassment, days after three former dancers for the singer filed a lawsuit detailing their claims. In an Instagram post on Thursday, Lizzo called the women’s claims “sensationalized stories.”
Three former dancers – Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez –against Lizzo’s company, Big Grrrl Big Touring, as well as the dance team captain Shirlene Quigley on Tuesday, saying, among other things, that Lizzo to engage with nude performers in Amsterdam earlier this year. They also said that dancers were put on “more stringent” rules than other people who were part of the tour, and had been falsely accused of drinking before shows.
Davis told CBS News on Wednesday that at one point, when on tour in Amsterdam, the performers had gone to a show in the red light district, where she says she and Rodriguez were pressured to interact with a nude performer, despite saying “no.”
Eventually, she said she did it, out of fear of losing her job and “being ostracized.”
“It’s an understanding in the camp, if you don’t participate, try to get in with Lizzo, you will not be booked on as many jobs,” she said. “She won’t like you as much. You will be ostracized later.”
On Thursday,responded, saying the aftermath of the allegations has been “gut wrenchingly difficult and overwhelmingly disappointing.”
“Usually I choose not to respond to false allegations but these are as unbelievable as they sound and too outrageous to not be addressed,” she said. “These sensationalized stories are coming from former employees who have already publicly admitted that they were told their behavior on tour was inappropriate and unprofessional.”
Lizzo, whose real name is Melissa Jefferson, went on to say that she takes her “music and my performances seriously.”
“With passion comes hard work and high standards. Sometimes I have to make hard decisions but it’s never my intention to make anyone feel uncomfortable or like they aren’t valued as an important part of the team,” she said. “I am not here to be looked at as a victim, but I also know that I am not the villain that people and the media have portrayed me to be these last few days.”
Lizzo, who is widely known for carrying a body-positive persona, said she’s “very open with my sexuality and expressing myself” – but that she won’t let that be used to “make me out to be something I am not.”
Davis had claimed that at one point during the tour, Lizzo had expressed to her that she was “worried” about her because she had gained weight.
“I believe she was trying to allude to the fact that I was gaining weight in a way that she wouldn’t get canceled, if that makes sense,” Davis said. “It was not a like, ‘you’re fat, you’re fired.’ It was never ‘you’re gaining too much weight,’ it was never blatant, it was very nuanced.”
Lizzo alluded to this in her statement on Thursday, saying, “There is nothing I take more seriously than the respect we deserve as women in the world.”
“I know what it feels like to be body shamed on a daily basis and would absolutely never criticize or terminate an employee because of their weight,” she said. “…I’m hurt but I will not let the good work I’ve done in the world be overshadowed by this.”