‘Fixation on Adele’s glow-up reveals society’s fat phobia’

By | November 1, 2019

Instantly, people were tweeting and sharing the photos, congratulating her on her “revenge body” – a reference to her ongoing divorce from Simon Konecki.

Across my social media feeds, it seemed everyone was sharing headlines that discussed her “sensational new look” and posting her “before and after” snaps.

The resounding reaction was: “She looks so good now!”

For me, this was far from unexpected. It merely confirmed that we live in a society that idealises thinness and celebrates weight loss as inherently positive.

The underlying premise behind the reaction to Adele’s photos was a) the assumption that her “old” body was “wrong” and b) that she made a deliberate and “healthy” choice.

In reality, this reaction is just a series of backhanded compliments. Saying she looks good now is just a more subtle form of body shaming that masquerades as a compliment.

By glamorising this terrible concept of the revenge-body, we’re saying fitness and eating well are tools to be weaponised against a former relationship as opposed to a positive choice we should all be making.

It centres our value in our physical appearance and the idea that bigger bodies are not worthy of a fulfilling relationship.

At its worst, the fixation on Adele’s post-separation “glow up” reveals our deep-rooted societal fat phobia, in which skinniness is valued at any detrimental cost and equated with attractiveness.

We’ve reached a stage in which we’re well-versed in the health implications of obesity, which can be a positive thing.

It’s important that we take steps to eat well and exercise for our mental and physical well-being.

However, why do we rarely acknowledge that weight loss, especially at a rapid rate, can be a cause for concern?

Quick weight loss can be the unintended result of a mental or physical condition.

Adele has wished rapper Drake happy birthday after being pictured attending his star-studded party in Los Angeles (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

It’s common knowledge that Adele is in the process of a divorce, a deeply traumatic and stressful experience for anyone, let alone someone in the public eye.

Yet, when these photos were released, there was a distinct lack of concern for her welfare.

Studies have shown that stress can cause a whole range of digestion problems, including loss of appetite.

While many of us respond to mental health challenges by comfort eating, some struggle with disordered eating as a response to anxiety.

Adele’s mental and physical health is, of course, her own business.

She could be happy, healthy and intentionally trying to lose weight. If this is the case, I truly wish her every success.

However, why do we continue to comment on people’s bodies without knowing context? How can we be sure that a compliment isn’t fuelling or validating a potential crisis?

Society just cares that you’re slim, no matter how objectively harmful the journey was to get there.

Adele always has been and always will be beautiful. She’s an immense talent and a treasure – this, not her body, should be the focus.


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