It is necessary for us to seriously assess and wrestle with why we see Adele’s weight loss as inherently good.
TW/CW: This article discusses weight change, dieting, eating disorders, and fatphobia.
Adele “lost” (more) weight. I say “more” because when she revealed herself for the first time in a long time for Christmas, many people celebrated for days about how much weight she’d “lost.” Then people celebrated again at the beginning of February when photos and videos surfaced of her at Laura Dockrill’s wedding, wherein she announced that she would have an album coming in September of this year.
Now again, at around 12:30 AM on Wednesday, she posted a picture on Instagram thanking friends, fans, and loved ones for all the birthday wishes. That brought a lot of people a lot of joy and happiness. Not the celebratory post about her birthday, but the fact that she had “lost” even more weight. When I saw her latest Instagram post, however, the first thing I said to myself—and on Twitter—is “I hope she’s okay.” Because when I see someone lose a drastic amount of weight, especially while in the midst of experiencing what has become a very public trauma, I immediately think about the impact the trauma is likely having on their body.
Adele hired a trainer back in 2016 and has reportedly been working out ever since. However, it wasn’t until a post she made in October 2019 that people began to pay more attention to this “loss” of weight that seemed to happen almost overnight. That post revealed no more than her face, but it was clear that she had become thinner than she once was. But in January of this year, one of Adele’s trainers revealed the diet Adele was on that was helping her “lose” so much weight. The diet is called the “Sirtfood diet.” This is a two-phase diet that lasts for three weeks. The creators claim that it turns on a “skinny-gene,” that causes rapid weight “loss,” and prevents diseases. The first phase is three days long. For those three days, you are only allowed to intake 1,000 calories. This means that for three days you consume three green juices a day and only one meal “packed with sirtfoods.” For the following four days, two green juices and two sirtfood-packed meals. For the two weeks after that, you eat three meals (a day) and one green juice. Then the diet is complete. By then, you’re expected to have “lost” a lot of weight, and the rest is dependent on the upkeep of your diet following.
According to the experts, however, the Sirtfood diet is a fad. Just as statistics show for dieting in general, this diet either does not work or is a short-lived success. However, this piece is not about the failings and oppressiveness of diet culture; I’ve already written that. Instead, this is about my deep concern for how we engage (drastic) weight “loss.” I continue to place “loss,” “lose,” and “lost” in quotations because, not only am I certain that this new Adele isn’t a product of surgery, but you don’t “lose” weight. It is not lost. Unless the reason for why you’ve “lost” weight is an illness, weight “loss” is usually intentional. To describe it as something that is “lost,” or that is a “loss,” would be to suggest that it is dead; that it cannot be recovered; or that you had such a deep connection to it that you had an interest in finding it in the first place. None of which is usually ever true for intentional weight “loss.” Statistically, the weight almost always returns, and no one has the intent to “lose” something they value.
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So how is Adele to feel after witnessing all of this celebration around her changing body? And how is she to feel should she ever gain this weight back? Considering the fact that the anti-fat patriarchy under which we live teaches women that their bodies belong to men, even after they’ve left them, is Adele supposed to feel comforted in the idea that she made this choice to “lose” weight to spite or get “revenge” on the man she’s divorcing? More to the point, the celebration of her “new” body is deeply anti-fat and misogynistic.
While none of us know this for certain, it seems that Adele’s weight “loss” is intentional. She’s spoken about her desire to “lose” weight before, even going as far as saying she wanted to “lose” weight to see if the reason for her fame was her weight—a theory that makes very little sense with an experiment that makes even less sense—and later saying that it’s for her son’s sake.
Be that as it may, whether intentional or not, weight “loss” can be exacerbated by stress and trauma, and has been named as a result of eating disorders. This is not an intention to diagnose Adele—I am no psychiatrist and no physician. Rather, this is to say that how we respond to weight and weight “loss” is determined entirely by how we are taught to view fatness. It’s necessary for us to seriously assess and wrestle with why we see weight “loss” as inherently good—so much so that we celebrate what is so clearly drastic weight “loss” even after knowing how much trauma a person has suffered prior to the weight “loss.”
Said differently, we are only so quick to celebrate a person’s “lost” weight because we are taught that the weightiness of fat peoples’ bodies are inherently burdensome; cross-bearing; back-breaking; onerous. Not on fat people, but on the people who surround us. Therefore, there’s no regard for whether or not a person is well when they “lose” weight because our societal desire—our only desire—is to not have to concern ourselves with the Ugliness of fatness; it doesn’t matter how it’s misplaced or “lost.” For me, however, I choose to see fatness as valuable; as part of my wellness. So the celebration of “lost” weight feels more like a celebration of thievery; theft of a fat person’s ability to see themselves as someone who matters; theft of a person’s right to see their body as neutral rather than inherently bad; a breach of consent on how a person enters into a relationship with their fat body.
The only way to undo this is not to merely dive into who is and is not “losing” weight for “all the right reasons,” but rather to devalue weight “loss” entirely. Return to fat people the life you’ve earnestly and jubilantly stolen. Our fatness deserves to be ours to have, to hold, to value, to love. And for fat women, in particular, their weight is not a weapon of war and revenge for them to throw away after divorcing a man. There is no “glow” or “snatched waist” necessary for a fat woman to acquire to prove she is happy or better off without a man.
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