“Wow, you look amazing, have you lost weight?”
It’s a sentence uttered in workplaces, at family gatherings and by that one friend who always flags you down in the shopping center. A sentence with the power to cause a particular stab of fear to pierce some women’s hearts.
Weight loss, unfortunately, is still the one physical trait most tightly attached to triumph, happiness, and health, even though the triggers for weight fluctuation can sometimes be traced back to serious issues including depression, anxiety and stress.
If you’re not swayed by the idea that weight loss is universally celebrated, namely among women, no matter what the price, then just take a quick look at the headlines, captions and commentary that swirl around changed women’s bodies after they have publically weathered a traumatic event.
In 2007, when she walked the Golden Globes red carpet, Reese Witherspoon was highly praised for her thinner frame, lauded with having the ultimate “revenge body”, even though she had spoken openly about the extreme amount of stress her body had been under following the divorce from her husband and father of her two children, Ryan Phillippe. An event that took place amid a sea of tabloid headlines alleging that he had cheated on her with fellow actress Abbie Cornish.
Fast forward to late 2019 and the very same headlines were swinging around Grammy Award winner Adele, who was praised for her “triumphant” weight loss after stepping out of the spotlight while going through a divorce and custody settlement with ex-husband Simon Konecki.
And while it’s Adele’s prerogative to change her body without having to offer up an explanation, it doesn’t change the fact that the world lavished more praise on her smaller frame than they ever did on her musical accomplishments.
Listen to why Adele’s weight is not a news story, it’s a sign we’ve all lost our way on The Spill.
This commentary around famous faces may seem like it’s lightyears away from the world most of us live in, so why should it matter?
The reality, of course, is that the way we discuss women’s bodies in the media has a trickle-down effect to how we talk about them in our own lives, which is a far more dangerous beast.
In more recent years, this frightening trend of critiquing, commenting on, and celebrating a woman’s weight loss above all else, has emerged primarily around women who appear on reality TV shows.