The Political Message Behind Lizzo’s Fire New Hairstyle

Photo: JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images.

As usual, Lizzo has taken the internet by storm with a bold new look that has an unmistakeable political message. Weeks after the award-winning performer walked the Billboard red carpet in a "Vote" dress and matching manicure, Lizzo is back with another rallying cry — this time for the 40% of Americans who did not cast their vote in 2016.

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"HOW CAN THIS COUNTRY BE 100% THAT BITCH IF WE'RE MISSING 40% OF OUR ELIGIBLE VOTERS?!?" Lizzo asked on Instagram, in a message deserving of its caps-lock tone. In the photo, Lizzo's hair is styled in intricate twists that form a "40%" symbol to represent the number of eligible voters who didn't participate in the 2016 election. "Literally I can't get that number off my mind," the singer said, motioning to the statement braided on the top of her head.

That 40% should loom over all our heads. It's a number that shows more than just apathy to our governing system, but one that also shines a bright, fluorescent light on the institutional policies and barriers to entry that keep many voters from accessing the polls — including people with disabilities, people with felony criminal backgrounds, members of Black and brown communities, and immigrants. It's an issue organizations like When We All Vote is working to solve in crucial elections like this one.

Shelby Swain, the self-proclaimed Beyoncé of Baby Hairs, was responsible for Lizzo's new political look, along with her other headline-making styles this week. On Monday, she helped Lizzo switch from a sleek updo for her Vogue cover to dynamic red, shoulder-length curls. The changes just go to show the strength and versatility of Black hair and how beauty is not solely bound to vanity, but instead can be an expression of the dreams we want to see manifested.

Black hair exists in all its textures despite the discrimination it faces, but there has been a growing sense of pride and genuine reflection among Black women on the power we hold in our hair. Versatility shows strength through adversity and the ability to conquer in the midst of suppression, a theme Lizzo passionately mentioned in her Billboard Awards speech. "Let me tell you something: When people try to suppress something, it's normally because that thing holds power," she said. "They're afraid of your power. There's power in who you are. There's power in your voice."

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With today's look, Lizzo reminds us that there's also power in our actions — and where those actions speak loudest is at the polls.

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