Adele fans have been waiting for new music from the singer for almost six years. So, imagine their sheer joy when she announced that a new single titled Easy On Me was dropping on October 15. The timing couldn’t have been better because we can all agree that we need to cry our feelings out after the year we’ve had.
But this joy has been somewhat soured for at least a certain section of her fans, who are troubled by how much the conversation surrounding Adele, right now, is about her weight. Last year in May, she posted a picture on her Instagram after her birthday, which sent the internet into a meltdown. While we’d seen blurry paparazzi shots here and there of her which indicated that she had lost a significant amount of weight, this was the first clear shot. The comments were overwhelmingly about her body and most of them implied that the obvious difference in it was an improvement. In the real world, when someone — and in this case, a celebrity — undergoes some form of physical transformation, people talk about it. That’s obvious. However, the issue is that they don’t stop talking about it.
Talking about celebrity bodies is a slippery slope. It is difficult and unnecessary, but given their massive following and influence, it often becomes a story that we cannot ignore. So, unfortunately, we cannot discuss Adele’s celebrity without acknowledging that her bottomless talent notwithstanding, one reason she has such a loyal fan following is because a lot of women saw themselves in her. Adele was beautiful before and she’s beautiful now. But earlier, when women saw her on screen, they related to her in a way they would not have related to another celebrity who was the entertainment industry’s definition of beautiful.
None of this makes it okay for anyone to tell Adele how to live or how to look because this is not her problem. The problem is that society feeds our insecurities every chance it gets, until we become so obsessed with the idea of beauty that when we see a celebrity who looks like a ‘regular’ person we latch onto them and live vicariously through the compliments they get. If Adele is beautiful and confident in her size, that must mean I’m beautiful too, it’s that train of thought that keeps us fixated. That’s dangerous territory because now that she has lost weight — for her own valid reasons — where does that leave us? It’s the reason people got mad at Lizzo for promoting a detox juice cleanse on her Instagram a few months ago and why they think Rebel Wilson is not funny anymore now that she’s lost weight.
Lizzo’s entire brand is built on loving herself. When she comes online and twerks for almost 12 million followers, she’s sending them a clear message - you don’t have to care about what the world thinks of your body, so love yourself. Imagine the horror these fans, who must have dealt with fatphobic dieticians prescribing detox cleanses to them, felt when she was suddenly talking about doing a juice cleanse. Something people would associate with Gwyneth Paltrow but never Lizzo. Rebel’s most famous character to date is Fat Amy from the Pitch Perfect franchise. She once famously said that bigger girls do better in comedy. So when she embarked upon her “year of health”, as she called 2020, her fans were confused. Rebel lost weight for a host of health reasons, but because she had built her career around her size, it’s not entirely unfathomable to see why people were not pleased. That’s just how creepily symbiotic the relationship between a celebrity and their fans is.
Adele has mentioned in interviews that she has been disappointed in people’s reactions about her body. While so many people have been complimenting her transformation, as it’s being called, many are telling her that she was prettier before. She lost weight because working out made her feel better and helped with her anxiety. She has had a difficult few years, especially with her divorce. She gets real in the interviews about that and the challenges of motherhood and she will undoubtedly get real about this in the music that she will release now. In an ideal world, that would be the only reason she’d be making headlines right now.
This writer, being a plus-size woman herself, has conflicting feelings about this. Adele should be celebrated at any size. We all hold value beyond our appearance. But the subtext behind thousands of people commenting “omg you look greattttt” under her pictures is not lost on anyone. What they mean is, you look great NOW. If we were taught to just exist in our bodies without constantly burdening ourselves with looking beautiful, we might not be in this position today. But is that Adele’s problem? Is it ours? And how do we fix it? There are no answers, except one. Quietly shedding tears while Adele gets all in her feelings is going to be the perfect end to this traumatic year no matter what weight you’re at.