The Huffington Post recently ran an article stating that Adele has stated in her new biography that she will only diet or attempt to lose weight if it would affect her health or sex life. Adele has defended her weight to the media before, and her newest position seems like a reasonable one. What’s unreasonable is the fact that her statement is being treated as news. Adele doesn’t care about how her weight affects her appearance — and the media just can’t handle that.
Why we want Adele to lose weight
It’s not just Adele — all female celebrities are under tremendous pressure to lose or maintain their current body weight. Oprah, Rosie O’Donnell, and Kirstie Alley have all publicly struggled with their weight. Why are we obsessed with this particular aspects of women’s bodies?
1. We think skinnier is always healthier. The obesity epidemic in America has us all reeling — and viewing overweight people with concern and pity, assuming that they are unhealthy. But that is not necessarily true. Adele has self-reportedly “always been a size 14-16″ (Huffington Post). Starving herself to drop down to a size six would likely be more unhealthy for Adele than maintaining her current weight.
2. We think skinnier is always prettier. Again, not always true. Take a look at stars like Angelina Jolie, Keira Knightley, and Mary Kate Olsen, all of whom have experienced dramatic weight loss. Do they look good at extremely low weights? Probably not.
3. We want to lose weight ourselves. When we’re trying to lose weight, we may start to assume that everyone else that we view as “heavy” should want to lose weight, too.
4. We don’t have enough normal-sized examples to compare her to. Adele wouldn’t look out of place walking down the street in your hometown. But on the red carpet, she stands out like a sore thumb because there are few other women like her. Is that more of a reflection on Adele’s individual body, or on the body type that we idealize and expect celebrities to attain?
5. We have low self-esteem. Criticizing somebody else can feel really good. After all, it takes attention away from yourself and your problems. Right?
Getting beyond body-shaming
Pretty much every female celebrity has had attention drawn to her body: for being “too heavy” or “too thin,” for having big breasts or small breasts, for a weight loss or weight gain. It’s easy to believe that there is no harm in criticizing a musician or movie star’s body; after all, you’ll never meet that person. But those attitudes carry over into real life and affect our views of the women around us.
From the horrific fat-shaming ads that featured chubby children on billboards to the glorification of eating disorders on the internet, our culture is obsessed with judging other people’s body weight. We base our judgments solely on appearance, without any knowledge of that person’s family history or health.
It’s time to stop pestering Adele about why she doesn’t want to lose weight. Time to stop judging other people for being too thin or too fat. Time to turn some of those observational skills and strong opinions on ourselves and our own bodies. Because in the end, your body is the only one that you can control.
Photo credit: Karen Blue