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Why Lizzo x Sailor Moon is Important
By Ghia Vitale
Today is the anniversary of Sailor Moon’s 1992 debut in Japan. To celebrate, I want to talk about why Lizzo being a Sailor Moon fan is a big deal for the moonie fandom.
Lizzo is known for her empowering self-love anthems, flute-playing skills, and energetic performances. However, she’s also a celebrity moonie. (For those who don’t know, moonies are Sailor Moon fans.) I recently wrote a brief history of Lizzo’s Sailor Moon mentions when it hit me: Lizzo being a loud and proud moonie affects the fandom community at large.
Sailor Moon is a renowned shōjo anime and manga that helped define the magical girl genre as we know it today. It’s also known for being quite inclusive for its time. For this reason, I’ve noticed that this show/manga has been popular in many feminist spaces I’ve been in. Lizzo being a Sailor Moon fan represents the arrival of more inclusion and representation for people with marginalized identities in the moonie community. (Specifically, people who are fat and/or black. I should also note that while I am super fat, I’m not black.)
Who Am I and Why Do I Care?
What gives me the right to make such a bold claim? Well, for one thing, I’ve been watching Sailor Moon since DiC adapted it into English and started showing it on American television in 1995. I remember being around 5 or 6 years old when I first started watching Sailor Moon. Then I read some of the comics/manga, which is how I learned that Sailor Moon’s real name isn’t Serena outside of the English dub—it’s Bunny in English and Usagi Tsukino in Japanese. At 30 years old, I’m still watching the series and enjoying every bit of it. I also make it a point to join Facebook groups for moonies and read SM content, exposing myself to a lot of people’s comments in the process.
Personally, I’ve never had a problem with fellow Sailor Moon fans being mean to me. However, when the pictures of Lizzo in her sailor senshi getup started circulating around the moonie Facebook groups, I noticed a lot of people’s comments were negative. They accused her of being “inappropriate” by shaking her ass in a thong at a stadium, something that thin celebrities do all the time without being ridiculed. Although the people saying these things would never admit it, their comments were expressions of anti-blackness and fatphobia.
Also, for the record, fatphobia is tied to anti-blackness, so I’m not surprised by all of the hate Lizzo gets. It’s just disappointing to see fans of an inclusive series slam a talented black, fat singer/flutist who’s a music icon.
One Person's Online Experience and Her Great Outlook
Another instance of overt fatphobia and anti-blackness on social media has stayed with me ever since I witnessed it. I follow a fat activist moonie named Sydney (@blackfatqueer) on Twitter and one day, I noticed that anime fans were fat-shaming her. She, however, has a good perspective on the whole situation.
“After getting called ‘planet-sized’ by a fatphobic anime account on twitter, I sarcastically responded by asking ‘which one?’” said Sydney.
When the anime account said she was Jupiter, she said she “laughed and thought it was cool as fuck!”
Why does she think being called Jupiter is cool? It’s not just because Jupiter is the biggest planet in the solar system—Jupiter is also the king of gods in Roman mythology. Plus, Sailor Jupiter is her favorite sailor guardian, so what’s there not to love?
When Sydney wasn’t insulted by being called Jupiter, the anime accounts proceeded to tell her that Sailor Jupiter is “sexy” and “doesn’t look like Kirby.” (Kirby is another character she loves, by the way. He’s also my favorite video game character.)
“My size getting compared to things like whales, elephants, planets, etc. no longer bothers me,” said Sydney, “These things are divine and powerful like me and my fatness!”
Representation For Black and Fat Sailor Moon Fans
Sydney describes Lizzo being a fan of Sailor Moon as “fun and refreshing.” Then there’s the representation aspect:
“I love seeing fat black people doing cosplay! Sailor Moon has always been my favorite anime, and to see people who look like me dressed up as the characters I loved makes me happy.”
As a fat activist, she also believes Lizzo representing Sailor Moon shows the world that black and fat people deserve space and positive visibility in the anime community:
“Fat people usually aren't shown enjoying and taking part in pop culture, and to choose something like anime is a good choice. Anime culture has never been too welcoming of people who aren't men, who are black plus fat.”
She continues, “But it is as much as ours to enjoy as anyone else.”
Like Sydney, I hope that Lizzo flaunting her moonie love will inspire more people in marginalized communities (including black and/or fat people) to get involved with the fandom and cosplay. I’m also hoping that by seeing Lizzo and her dancers perform dressed as different sailor scouts, the fandom will embrace diversity and body positivity in the realm of cosplay more than it currently does.
Words From a Sailor Moon Blogger
Fortunately, the SM fan response to Lizzo hasn’t been entirely negative. In fact, there are plenty of people who’ve seen the SM community embrace Lizzo’s moonie fandom. The negative comments feel barbed, so I’ve noticed them more. However, Lizzo is also getting a generous amount of positive attention from fellow moonies.
Adam runs Sailor Moon News, a blog that keeps up with SM news and content. He describes the Sailor Moon community’s reaction to Lizzo as being “largely positive.” He also added that Sailor Moon provided “a sense of pride and empowerment” to young girls while they were growing up.
Adam also credits the show’s diversity for its success as well as Lizzo’s attraction to it:
“Sailor Moon always attempted to positively display a diversity of LGBT characters, which was not as common in children's shows in the ‘90s, which attracted a diversity of fans to the series.” Adam explained. “Lizzo promotes diversity of body, race, and sexuality, which similarly empowers her fans to be proud of who they are.”
He also thinks that “fans find both messages appealing in the same way.” Furthermore, he adds that Sailor Moon and Lizzo have similarities that both appeal to the moonie fanbase:
“Lizzo is a very positive and expressive person with a love of life, just like Sailor Moon.”
I think his observations are spot-on. Although Lizzo wishes she could trade places with Sailor Moon, she’s much more like Usagi than she realizes!
More Lizzo x Sailor Moon Please!
Now, here’s a grand finale of a question: What do fans want now that Lizzo is doing some moonie stuff in the public eye? Well, it’s something I’ve been wondering about for a while. As for Adam’s answer?
“I've seen many fans express interest in having Lizzo cover the Sailor Moon theme song, be it the original Japanese or English version, in some way,” said Adam, “Otherwise, they want her to do some sort of Sailor Moon crossover.”
He thinks it would be “fantastic for fans of Lizzo and Sailor Moon alike.” He also hopes the Lizzo x Sailor Moon music collaboration “becomes a reality.”
That makes at least two of us, Adam! I would love to see Lizzo do more moonie-themed performances, including a cover of the opening. I can’t help but wonder if she likes the English version or the Japanese version better. I also hope Lizzo drops sailor guardians' names in more interviews and wears more Sailor Moon plus size fashion like she did during her Voodoo Fest performance in 2018.
Speaking of cosplay, I would also like to see Lizzo do her take on Princess Serenity or Queen Serenity. Seeing her in a wedding dress in the "Truth Hurts" video gave me this idea. I think she would look like an otherworldly goddess in that kind of cosplay. Whoops! Did my queerness just slip out? My bad! Anyway...
Lizzo loving Sailor Moon is all the evidence you need to know that the show is great. It’s also a testament to her good taste that manifests in her music. I really hope we get to experience more of Lizzo’s moonie magic in the future!
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