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What to Remember Before Commenting on Adele's Weight Loss

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This week, everyone’s been talking about Adele.

No, she didn’t put out a new song, announce a new album or win another award. She posted pictures of herself at a Christmas party looking gorgeous as usual — but visibly smaller than she has in the past. That was enough to get everyone talking about and commenting on her weight loss.

Popular news articles read, “Adele Shows Off Weight Loss in Festive Christmas Snap” and “Adele Shows Off Her New Figure in Festive Christmas Photo.” When you search her name on Twitter, “Adele weight” and “Adele skinny” are the first search terms to come up. People have been calling her “transformation” the glow-up of the century.

While celebrating weight loss is common in our culture, it’s interesting that Adele did not draw attention to or mention her weight loss in her captions, despite what the news suggests. She documents her life on social media and these recent photos are a continuation of this. The ones celebrating and noticing the weight loss are her fans and the public. 

The public first started commenting on Adele’s weight loss when she posted a photo in October with the caption, “I used to cry but now I sweat.” When those pictures circulated, an inside source told Us Weekly, “She really wants to be healthy and set a good example for her son. She’s more focused on feeling good and the health benefits than the weight loss.”

This quote alone insinuates she’s focusing on feeling good rather than “looking good,” which contradicts the public reaction. Health is so subjective and personal — we can’t tell by someone’s weight what their health status is. There are healthy fat people and unhealthy skinny people, vice versa and everything in between. Weight is a personal and individualized aspect of someone’s life that should not be attached to their worth. 

From personal experience, I’ve found that it’s perfectly OK to celebrate a person’s weight loss, but only if they first make it known. If they don’t bring attention to it, perhaps the person doesn’t want to celebrate it. When we assume weight loss is a good thing without the person saying so themselves, we send the message that any lost weight is a win, when in fact, people can lose weight due to stress, illness, eating disorders, taking new medications and a multitude of other things. This also sends a clear message to fat people that it’s not OK to be fat, and that they should lose weight to fit in, too.

For those struggling with eating disorders and disordered eating, celebrating someone’s weight loss uninvited can trigger dangerous behaviors in an attempt to lose more weight. Some argue that by uplifting or just allowing fat people to exist we somehow promote obesity, which isn’t true, yet no one talks about how we clearly promote self-harm through eating disorders and disordered eating when we carelessly celebrate someone’s weight loss and nothing else. It sends a dangerous message to people trying to recover from disordered eating or eating disorders that weight loss of every kind is an accomplishment.

People are also commenting on the fact that she lost weight after officially getting divorced from her ex-husband last September. (One comment on her latest Instagram post reads, “post break up weight loss ugh there’s nothing better.”) This is a problematic comment because it spreads the dangerous message that one way to “seek revenge” after a breakup is through weight loss. Yes, it’s good to take care of yourself after a negative life event, but this won’t always lead to weight loss. Intentional weight loss following a major life event is more often a quick fix, a bandage solution to a problem that requires time and deep healing within. 

Our culture loves sensationalistic tales of weight loss marketed as “inspiration,” but what would happen if we broke away? What if we actively decided to focus on what people think, feel, do and create rather than what they look like? Perhaps we’d live in a more grounded world. We lose our touch with reality when we put all our focus and worth on what we look like. Adele is still the same talented and captivating woman as she was before. We can celebrate her by taking care of ourselves — and let her tell us about her relationship with weight, when (or if) she chooses.

Image via Wikimedia Commons/Robst56

Originally published: December 28, 2019
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