Big news! Bigger than a pandemic that’s cost us tens of thousands of lives! Adele’s lost weight! Seven stone, to be precise, according to the experts! Now, THAT’S what you call a glow up, huh? How on earth did she do it?
That’s the kind of hysteria that swirled around the internet after Adele posted a photo of herself on Instagram on her birthday, thanking well-wishers for their messages. She was even kind enough to shout out the key workers helping to fight coronavirus – but that’s not what made the headlines. It’s 2020, and another woman’s body is all over the celebrity gossip pages. Good job, society. You’re doing really well with this whole progressive thing.
It’s fair enough that people might make remarks amongst themselves. After all, she looks very different. Does it really need to be the talk of the town? In a rational, egalitarian world, not really. In a patriarchal society, it’s no surprise that a woman’s body, particularly a previously bigger one, is being treated as everybody’s business.
I can’t imagine such a narrative cropping up if, say, Ed Sheeran came out looking like he’d been on a green juice diet
Many journalists and internet commentators have already pointed out the sexism and fatphobia fuelling the media buzz around Adele’s weight loss. Some even believe all the praise and congratulations makes this supposed “achievement” appear more monumental than any platinum selling album she has made or the Grammys she has won in her hugely successful career. I can’t imagine such a narrative cropping up if, say, Ed Sheeran came out looking like he’d been on a green juice diet.
And, of course, she’s doing the whole ‘being a woman’ thing the right way now. She looks like a woman should! All the horrendous flab is gone! The celebration around a woman being thin, by association, reinforces the stigma around fatness and its apparent undesirability. It comes from the same place as the circle of shame and language like ‘dumpy’ and ‘balloons to a size 12’. That might even be triggering for some people, those with eating disorders, body dysmorphia, or any unhealthy perception of body image.
Adele’s body – and any woman’s body for that matter – is nobody’s business but her own
The underlying sexism in this treatment of Adele has also manifested in other ways. Some have touted her new look as a ‘revenge body’, given her semi-recent divorce. There is no consideration that this might have been something she wanted to do for herself. It’s the patriarchy after all – that’s never a concern. It likes making us believe that women do things because a man has influenced them to. In fact, this narrative becomes even more illogical given that Adele announced her divorce just over a year ago. And does she even need to seek revenge? The concept assumes a pettiness which none of these commentators know she has.
The concept of Adele getting a ‘revenge body’ is part of the constant speculation over her reasons for losing weight. It’s treated as a puzzle to which we are somehow owed an answer. The media are using Adele’s body as a way to open up an interrogation of her private matters. We don’t need to know her motives for losing weight or whether this has any relation to her personal life. The two might not even be connected. She is known for being a private person – what is wrong with that? Why can’t we allow her that?
So, Adele’s lost weight. If it has made her happier and she is healthy, good for her. That’s all there is to this non-story that isn’t really a story until the media try and force it into a certain narrative. There’s no need for questions. Adele’s body – and any woman’s body for that matter – is nobody’s business but her own.