health

Adele's weight is not a news story, it's a sign we've all lost our way.

The recent noise around Adele’s body is like music from a neighbour’s 80s-themed house party – disruptive, unwelcome and aggressively retro.

This week media outlets flooded our newsfeeds with headlines and articles critiquing the award-winning musician’s body, with tabloid publications and respected news outlets alike all offering up extensive coverage marvelling at “Adele’s impressive weight loss” and declaring that “she looked sensational after shedding a whopping 19 kilograms.”

With every headline, article, tweet and Facebook post that was put out into the world, the messaging around the 31-year-old singer’s body became clearer than a glass of dry gin on a summer’s day.

We are now supposed to see her appearance as a triumph that deserves to be publicly celebrated with more lashings of attention and flowering prose than any of her previous big award show wins or chart-topping album sales were ever afforded.

The narrative around Adele is that months after announcing her divorce from husband and father of her young son Angelo, Simon Konecki, she made a reappearance at musician Drake’s recent birthday party “flaunting her incredible weight loss to celebrity pals,” as more than one publication so succinctly worded it.

Listen to Mamamia’s Entertainment Editor and host of The Spill podcast Laura Brodnik talk about why the headlines around Adele and her body are so confronting.

And while the news coverage around Adele and her body is about as welcome as an overly chatty Uber driver, it’s also not entirely unexpected.

News outlets are businesses that monetise our clicks and views for revenue and so teasing pictures of “Adele’s stunning body transformation” was always a surefire way to catch your attention during a routine Facebook scroll and therefore lure you over to their outlet.

But the most confronting element to come out of these headlines and their surrounding commentary was the way it felt like the world had just collectively let out a sigh of immense relief when looking at these new images of Adele.

Reading between the lines there was a sickening sense of joyous celebration due to the fact that by appearing smaller, she now fit more neatly into the mould of what we still deem to be desirable and attractive. There were blatant insinuations that her true fairy tale ending was measured by dress size, not by Grammys, and that she had somehow “won” her divorce by debuting the perfect “revenge body”.

At last, public sentiment squealed, Adele is the woman we’ve always wanted her to be.

While Adele herself has not out-rightly commented on the array of news headlines surrounding her body, she did post an image of herself at the event to her Instagram page with a caption that included the line “I used to cry but now I sweat”. A line which some people are taking to mean that she’s empowered by her new body.

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But the crux of this issue is that it’s actually not about Adele at all.

Her body is, of course, hers to do with as she chooses, and I’m firmly of the belief that you can be an advocate and a role model for body image acceptance at any size.

No one owes the world an explanation for the way their body looks or how it changes.

The real reason why this coverage around Adele felt like such an intense throat punch was that it is a sharp reminder of what the world really values when certain socially acceptable filters are allowed to slip away just a little.

It was an unwelcome reminder that universally the tag on your dress or the number on a scale can effectively cancel out your more impressive triumphs or even distract from your most devastating lows.

These headlines and stories also made me look at my own world in a way which made my skin crawl with tiny beads of discomfort, knowing that out of everything I have or could have achieved this year, both professionally or personally, losing weight is the one thing that would have garnered me the most genuine amount of praise.

Adele’s weight is not worthy of a news story but it is a reminder that even with how far we’ve come, it’s still so easy to lose our way when looking at women’s bodies.

For more stories like this, you can follow Mamamia Entertainment Editor Laura Brodnik on Facebook.  You can also visit our newsletter page and sign up to “TV and Movies”  for a backstage pass to the best movies, TV shows and celebrity interviews (see one of her newsletters here). 

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