Lizzo’s “Grrrls” lyrics, which fans call an offensive slur, remind us to be careful with words. Experts say it’s important to think more about what we’re speaking and avoid certain words altogether. In addition to Lizzo’s use of “spaz, other terms to use carelessly include OCD and bipolar.

After being accused of using an abusive slur in her latest song, “Grrrls,” Lizzo apologized and released a new version of her music.

In a Twitter post-Tuesday afternoon, the “Truth Hurts” singer said an updated version of “Grrrls,” the latest single from her upcoming album “Special,” was released after it was brought to her attention that one of the lyrics, “a harmful word.”

Lizzo apologizes

“Let me clarify: I never want to promote derogatory language,” wrote Lizzo. “As a fat black woman in America, I’ve used a lot of hurtful words against me, so I exceed (sic) the power that words can have (intentionally or, in my case, unintentionally). This is the result of listening and taking action.

“As an influential artist, I am committed to being part of the change I wanted to see in the world.”

For context, the original lyrics that offended fans came from the song’s line, “See this (expletive)? I’m a spazz,” and many argue that “spaz” is an insulting slur. As a slang term, “spaz “is often used to describe the loss of “physical or emotional control” but has fallen more and more out of fashion due to the origin of the word “spastic”: “a form of muscle weakness (spastic paralysis) typical of cerebral palsy,” according to Lexico, an online dictionary.

The controversy over Lizzo’s text reminds us that other slang terms have more serious origins, making it important to think more about what we’re speaking — and not say certain words at all.

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What other terms should we stop saying?

“I’m practically an alcoholic.” “Kill me.” “I’m so OCD.”

People say these sentences without thinking. But these words are potentially harmful to people with mental disorders and those struggling with addiction.

“They simplify, and in many cases misrepresent, the experience of these kinds of problems,” Sarah Victor, an assistant professor in the psychological sciences department at Texas Tech University, told USA TODAY earlier. “For example, ‘I’m so OCD’ refers to someone picky about details, neatness, or organization. However, there are many different types of OCD, not all of which are related to organization or neatness.”

Other examples of words to avoid:

‘I’m OCD’: Unless you have obsessive-compulsive disorder, it’s best not to use this colloquially. ‘I’m so ADHD/ADD’: The same goes for using ADD and ADHD to describe a problem with focusing. ‘Schizo’: Schizophrenia is “a serious mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally,” according to the Mayo Clinic. “Kill me,” “I’m going to kill myself”: In 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 million American adults seriously considered suicide, 3.5 million planned an attempt, and 1.4 million tried. It’s not something to say lightly. ‘Bipolar’: Bipolar disorder “causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration and ability to perform daily tasks,” according to the National Institute of Mental Health. There are three types of the condition: bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymia — none of which are casual.

“Using (these) terms in this way can feel minimizing for individuals with mental illness,” Melissa Baese-Berk, a faculty scientist in the department of linguistics at the University of Oregon, told USA TODAY.

“If someone says ‘kill me’ in response to a minor problem, when they’re not suicidal, that means that wanting to commit suicide is something to be blasé about; it’s not a problem,” says Victor. “However, the experience of suicidal thoughts and urges is often extremely painful and distressing for people.”

Contributions: Edward Segarra, USA TODAY

Hear someone use an insulting word? This is how you tell them they’re wrong.

‘This is the result of my listening’: Lizzo changes lyrics after being accused of using the talkative slur.

If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts, call the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 800-273-TALK (8255), or chat online.

Crisis Text Line also provides free, 24/7, confidential SMS support to people in crisis when they call 741741.


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