On Tuesday, Adele posted a stunning picture of herself on Instagram in celebration of her 32nd birthday.
Her little black, balloon-sleeve dress from Elzinga has already prompted countless admirers to purchase the expensive dress (or less pricey look-alikes from retailers like Nordstrom). However, it’s not the dress, the thoughtful caption, or the celebratory occasion that people want to discuss. Everyone seems hooked on her weight loss, and many are now demonizing the singer’s health journey. (One journalist even disapprovingly claims Adele has probably received more praise for her weight loss than if she had found the cure to COVID-19.)
Her Journey with Health
Adele, who is in the middle of a brutal divorce, has been open about her focus on self-improvement. One year ago, on her 31st birthday, she wrote that she has “changed drastically in the last couple years” and “is still changing and that’s OK.”
“I used to cry but now I sweat.”
Over the years, she has candidly shared her pursuit of health, noting that she gave up cigarettes and began working out (despite not loving it). In October 2019, she posted a photo from Drake’s 33rd birthday party captioned, “I used to cry but now I sweat.” Evidently, she has been taking a slow, long-term, and fruitful approach to her health transformation.
So, why are people outraged over the positive feedback she has received regarding her weight loss? Commending someone for achieving a goal that they have been working towards is never a negative act, nor is it an attack on those who haven’t attained that same goal. Telling Adele that she looks breathtaking doesn’t imply that she wasn’t beautiful before. When people say that Jennifer Aniston looks incredible at 51, they don’t mean that she didn’t look incredible at 31. Furthermore, the positive comments on Adele’s photo don’t imply that those who aren’t as slender are less attractive. A compliment intended for one person doesn’t double as a criticism aimed at others.
Some are worried that the focus has been shifted from Adele’s talents and onto her body. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Fans applauding the “Hello” singer’s gorgeous appearance are not disregarding her music. In fact, many of the comments on the photo included pleas that she release a new album. No one has forgotten that the 32-year-old has won an impressive 15 Grammys and possesses an angelic and deeply moving voice. Since when has it been unacceptable to recognize someone for multiple accomplishments?
Since when has it been unacceptable to recognize someone for multiple accomplishments?
Isn’t This a Double Standard?
Conversely, Lizzo has often been applauded more for her size than for her music. The singer has stated that she is tired of people talking about her weight, but has also been very blunt and bold about her figure — shockingly so, at times. A double standard seems to have emerged: it’s okay to praise a celebrity’s weight if he/she is overweight, but it’s not okay to praise a celebrity’s weight if he/she has recently trimmed down.
To shame women for wanting to be the healthiest and most wholesome versions of themselves is completely counterintuitive to “body positivity.”
When supermodel Ashley Graham posted a video of her Sunday morning workout on Instagram, commenters shamed her for working out. While some encouraged her healthy activity, others questioned why someone who is a self-proclaimed body-positivity activist would be attempting to alter her body through exercise. What these naysayers are missing is that, for many people, exercising can be a very body-positive undertaking. Pursuing one’s health is always a good thing! For that reason, women like Ashley and Adele should absolutely be cheered and admired for their endeavors.
The body positivity movement should be centered on treating our bodies positively. To limit praise to overweight women who spurn exercise and healthy eating but profess to be happy with their bodies is not constructive or positive at all. To shame women for wanting to be the healthiest and most wholesome versions of themselves is completely counterintuitive to “body positivity.” Women should be focusing on lifting up other women, encouraging them in efforts that promote greater flourishing, and celebrating them when such worthwhile goals are achieved. So, Adele, you look healthy, you look smashing, and, most importantly, you look truly happy. And that makes us happy.