Unless you live under a rock or at the bottom of the ocean, it’s impossible that you’ve missed the recent images of Adele. She’s come crashing back into our collective consciousness, looking like a different person altogether. She has lost a lot of weight.
It goes without saying that our general obsession with appearance, weight and all things superficial has ensured that she’s hit the headlines in a huge way. Be it positively or negatively, everyone is talking about Adele’s weight loss, and this brings with it a whole host of problems.
Firstly, the words ‘incredible’, ‘inspirational’ and ‘gorgeous’ have accompanied the words ‘weight loss’ in many of the world’s headlines. Comments are being made left, right and centre about how ‘amazing’ and ‘beautiful’ the singer now looks. In general, the world is praising and congratulating Adele on her recent weight loss.
For starters, we know nothing about Adele or her personal life. Her weight loss could be as a result of depression, illness or trauma, yet we blindly praise it. We assume that a fat woman would hate her body and want to become thin.
I accept that Adele’s weight loss is likely to have been intentional. However, we all know that drastic weight loss such as this comes at a price. We cannot plead ignorance. When congratulating her 30kg weight loss, we say we’re commending Adele’s hard-work and dedication. In reality, it’s likely that we’re praising eating disorder, exercise addiction and severe food restriction. We think we’re applauding her dedication to ‘health’ but, actually, these behaviours are far from healthy. The scary bottom line is that society praises thinness at any cost.
‘Being thin is the most important thing’ is what we are telling Adele. It’s also what we’re telling ourselves and what we’re telling our children. Can we not see how damaging this narrative is?
Every time we celebrate weight loss like it’s the most amazing thing a person can do, we are reiterating this cycle. People, especially women, are obsessed with their body image and this is why. We are essentially trapping ourselves in this cycle of body scrutiny where weight loss and thinness is king.
What’s more, every time we congratulate weight loss, we are justifying the poor treatment of fat people in our society. When we tell people they look ‘much better’ than they did before or when we post ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos of bodies getting smaller and smaller, we are essentially saying that the less we weigh, the more we’re worth. Fat people are made to feel like their bodies are a ‘before’ image that needs changing. This is far from the truth. They are real, whole people who live their lives in those bodies and have a right to do so, judgement free. If anything, we should be celebrating and embracing body diversity.
It is no wonder that celebrities like Adele feel the need to lose weight, when fat people are treated badly by the world. The media are the loudest voices in our society and, by categorising Adele’s weight loss as ‘incredible’ and ‘inspirational’, they are making their fat-phobic views very clear. They’re telling us, in simple terms, that smaller bodies are better bodies and that fat bodies are unacceptable.
Historically, these views are the remnants of a patriarchal society that wants women to become smaller and smaller until they're nothing. If women are smaller, thinner and weaker they are less threatening. If they're preoccupied with their weight, they won't realise their own power or assert themselves in any real way. Still, to this day, we cling onto these ancient and damaging ways of thinking.
‘But what about health?’ I hear you ask. Although we are fed the narrative that thinner people are healthier, this is a very simplistic view. BMI is the woolly mammoth of medical measures and, in reality, weight and health have an extremely complex relationship. Despite common belief, there is no way to tell just by appearances whether Adele is healthier in her previously larger body or in her current smaller body. Regardless, the media uses this guise of being concerned about ‘health’ to troll and slander people who live in larger bodies. I don’t see people who actively risk their lives doing extreme sports or experimenting with drugs getting the same treatment.
We need to remember that Adele is a woman with talent and personality coming out of her earholes. Commenting on her weight is, yet again, reducing a real living, breathing person to little more than their body. The bottom line is that the world’s collective mental health and productivity will improve the day we stop scrutinising and placing so much importance on our appearances. We all have a part to play in this. The next time you feel like commenting on someone’s weight or body: stop, think and question. Could my words be contributing to a damaging narrative? Let’s be excited for Adele’s next album instead!