Once every few years, Adele returns to the spotlight. Save for late night visits to one of New York’s most popular gay bars with Hollywood A-lister Jennifer Lawrence, the singer remains relatively low key when she’s not promoting an album. Recently, however, the Oscar and 15-time Grammy award winner is back in the headlines, not for a new project or new music, but for her noticeably thinner appearance.
On Dec. 23, the “Water Under the Bridge” singer shared rare photos of herself on Instagram from her private holiday party, posing playfully with the Grinch and Santa Claus.
“We both tried to ruin Christmas, but then both our hearts grew!” the 31-year-old captioned the photo. “Thank you for coming to my party and making us feel like kids, Grinch.”
Almost immediately, fans and media outlets began praising Adele for her “impressive” and “inspiring” weight-loss. Social media became abuzz about the now “skinny” singer-songwriter who was supposedly showing off or celebrating her new physique.
Reports began to surface of just how the singer dropped the weight for her “stunning” transformation. One report cited Adele’s recent filing for divorce from husband Simon Konecki in Sept. 2019 as the impetus for the transformation, even going as far as referencing the singer’s October Instagram caption “I used to cry but now I sweat,” as evidence. Another outlet dubbed Adele a fan of the “sirtfood” diet, which supposedly helps people shed up to seven pounds a week.
The fascination with Adele’s altered appearance has raised red flags for many. The level of positive feedback towards the star for simply losing weight, reaffirms society’s deeply entrenched fatphobia, perhaps without us even being aware of it.
It’s kind of like saying “Bless you” when someone sneezes — it’s become somewhat of a polite reflex to praise someone for losing weight. What may seem like a throw-away comment perpetuates the idea that thin bodies are more desirable than larger bodies. A “Good for you!” or “You look amazing” implies that someone has achieved validation through altering their body. It’s not so subtly reaffirming to a person that by conforming to pressures to alter their body that they have achieved value and that only now, do they deserve recognition existing.
Celebrating Adele's weight loss is a garbage thing to do for a million reasons. Here are two:
1. It tells your fat friends you think their bodies are a problem to be solved.
2. The weight loss could be the result of physical or mental health struggles. Weird to cheer about!
— Audra Williams (@audrawilliams) December 24, 2019
Despite her success and talent, Adele’s weight has always been a subject of conversation and criticism. No matter her size, comments about the star’s body have been an unwanted addendum to her achievements. Adele didn’t earn 15 Grammys, an Oscar, 18 Billboard Music Awards, 9 Brit Awards, a Golden Globe and earn the title of the fastest-selling album of all time because of how much she weighed. Her worth has never been determined by her weight, and neither is ours.
The counter argument from the social media world has been to deny that any praise towards Adele is rooted in fatphobia, but instead an appreciation for the star getting “healthy.” While Adele has yet to comment on her altered appearance (not that she has to), it’s troubling that many believe that weight loss is the ultimate path to healthy living.
Off to do an Adele.
I.e lose hunners of weight.
— Lori Gallagher (@lorianneglasgow) December 28, 2019
i think it’s weird for other people to make a big deal out of adele’s weight loss when adele hasn’t. like you said, we don’t know the full story and we do know that adele has recently been through a divorce so people just assuming weight loss = good/flex without context is wrong
— foyin 🍯 (@foyinog) December 25, 2019
Weight loss is a byproduct of many things: change in diet, exercise, extreme dieting (calorie restriction), stress, illness and medication. We all know that it’s possible to lose weight in a healthy way, but we also know that just because a person reaches a lighter number on the scale, or can slip into a different size of dress doesn’t mean they are physically healthy or immune to illness.
It’s irresponsible to assume that because Adele has money and access to resources such as trainers and personal chefs, she is losing weight in a healthy way, that she was never physically healthy at her previous weight and ultimately she is happier at a lower weight.
— Miss Representation (@RepresentPledge) December 24, 2019
It takes time to untangle the web of harmful and discriminatory messages the diet industry has sold us for decades. Adele may be the subject of the headlines, but she is part of a larger conversation regarding our society’s obsession with thinness. We have no place to comment on Adele’s weight, nor anyone else’s, however when situations such as this become a topic of public conversation they also serve as an opportunity for self reflection. We must ask ourselves: How do we feel about her weight? What do these feelings say about my weight? What myths am I carrying about weight? Where do they come from? How can I make others feel seen, without talking about their appearance?
As we enter into a New Year and new decade, it’s important to remember for ourselves and others: you don’t have to lose weight to gain happiness or health.