Lizzo’s given fans so much this year, from up-tempo anthems to daily mantras. The singer-rapper-flautist kicked 2019 off with “Juice,” a single overflowing with self-love where she refers to herself as the “baddest bitch” and a “whole damn meal.” And while the song continued to gain popularity among her single fans over the course of several months, nothing could’ve prepared Lizzo for the powerful, chart-climbing resurgence of “Truth Hurts” this past spring — a track she released two years ago that, at the time, almost made her ditch her career altogether. “The day I released ‘Truth Hurts’ was probably one of the darkest days I’ve had ever in my career,” she told People. “I remember thinking, ‘If I quit music now, nobody would notice. This is my best song ever, and nobody cares.’” But Lizzo wasn’t down for long, telling the mag, “The song that made me want to quit is the song that everyone’s falling in love with me for.”
The sudden revival of the song — which is all about embracing the single life and succumbing to the realization that men are only great “‘til they gotta be great”— came when it was featured in the Netflix rom-com Someone Great, starring Gina Rodriguez, Brittany Snow, and DeWanda Wise back in April. The “Truth Hurts” scene sees Rodriguez dancing around the kitchen in her underwear as she drunkenly sings the most empowering post-breakup lyric: “I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100 percent that bitch.” It’s a big mood. And despite being two years old already, the empowering single recently reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming a go-to self-love anthem for single women everywhere — many of whom doubted whether they’d ever be able to survive without a relationship.
“In the past, I attached my identity and worth to being loved/shown attention from another person,” Anna, a Lizzo fan, wrote to MTV News. “When the relationship would end, it left me completely lost. … Lizzo’s song helped me separate my identity from my relationship status. It helped me realize that I was worthy of love and belonging whether I was single or not.” And perhaps even more importantly, it taught her to never settle for anything less than she deserves. “After I stopped settling for relationships, I realized that that energy quickly filtered into the rest of my life,” she said. “I no longer settled for subpar. I started going after what I wanted and following my dreams.”
Anna’s certainly not the only one who, at one time, found her worth in other people. According to online psychologist Carolin Müller, we’ve been culturally conditioned to consider certain aspects of our lives as positives, and relationships are one of them. “Those norms are often driven by all kinds of media … so if you live in an era where being single is considered bad and being in a relationship is considered cool, it is normal that you feel a kind of pressure,” Müller said. Bella DePaulo, author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After, agrees, though she also says we have more than just the media to blame for feeding us the same old relationship tropes. “The valuing of marriage and devaluing of single people is pervasive,” DePaulo said. “It is in popular culture, in our churches, in politics, in the workplace, in the marketplace, in schools and universities, and in everyday life. There is no escaping it.”
But “Truth Hurts” teaches that being single isn’t a bad thing, and its music video challenges the very social construct of marriage. In it, Lizzo’s dressed as a bride, veil and all. But after twerking at the altar instead of exchanging vows, she ultimately winds up marrying herself. Müller calls this “a reversal of values,” something also heard in equally empowering songs like Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies,” for example — which inspired strong, independent women to throw their ringless hands up and dance — and more recently, Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next,” which similarly positions the pop star in a committed relationship with herself.
These songs’ positive messages help debunk the outdated notion that being single is sad, lonely, and not a status someone would ever willfully opt into. “Being single or being in a relationship does not have a direct effect on the wellbeing of a person,” Müller said. And if you ask DePaulo, “Truth Hurts” offers yet another way for singles to flip the switch on the all-too-familiar narrative that relationships are absolutely essential to one’s happiness. “That’s important,” she said. “When it seems like singles just can’t catch a break, along comes a catchy song with empowering lyrics.”
For Ally, another Lizzo fan, those empowering lyrics have shown that you’ll never really know what you’re capable of until you spend some much-needed time by yourself. “After coming out of a five-and-a-half-year relationship somewhat unexpectedly, I felt empty and lost,” she said. “I hadn’t been single since I was 16 years old so I didn’t even know how to do things without having someone right there with me.” Lizzo’s celebratory words — “I put the sing in single / Ain’t worried ’bout a ring on my finger” goes one standout couplet — helped Ally find an independence within herself that she never knew existed. “I think it’s made me stop and appreciate the beauty of being on your own — especially in your 20s,” she said. “I’ve since come to realize how important it is to be on your own for a little. I think this time allows you to really objectively determine who you are and what you want.”
Typically, one doesn’t abruptly switch from hating being single to loving it. But listening to Lizzo’s smile through her delivery of lines like “I got boy problems, that’s the human in me / Bling bling, then I solve ’em, that’s the goddess in me” can certainly make someone feel empowered in their singleness — at least for a little while. And if you decide to listen more than once, it can seriously impact your attitude in a really positive way. “Listening to this song on repeat is like reciting a mantra, or repeating a thought or a sentence every day,” Müller said. “… It has a real influence on your attitude.”
Jessica, another fan of Lizzo’s girl-power anthem, can attest. After being in four different long-term relationships, she’s found herself feeling “lonely and bored” — and it doesn’t help that many of her friends are posting their engagement and pregnancy announcements on Instagram every week. But even though she still feels pressure to find love, the song initiated a noticeable difference in her attitude toward being single. “[It] has given me that extra boost on days when I really need it,” she said. “It’s the song I get ready to before a first date, but also the song I listen to on the way home after a horrible first date. The song I listen to cleaning when I feel like I’m going to be alone forever, or when I see an ex on social media getting married.” One song doesn’t have to completely change how you feel about being single, but if listening to “Truth Hurts” can encourage you to put one foot in front of the other and stop comparing your love life to everyone else’s, then isn’t it worth listening to… over and over and over again?
“This song made me feel confident in that other women have experienced the ups and downs of breakups and being single,” Jessica said. And it’s true. Other women — Lizzo included — have felt extraordinary discomfort in being single, but just because you’re single doesn’t mean your life isn’t overflowing with love. “Durable happiness and well-being is really not related to being in a relationship,” Müller says. “Self-love is a primordial condition for psychological well-being.” And the more songs continue to preach about self-love, the more people will truly feel it.