On Wednesday, Adele took a moment to thank fans who had wished her a happy birthday and share her appreciation for essential workers amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. “Thank you for the birthday love,” she wrote. “I hope you’re all staying safe and sane during this crazy time. I’d like to thank all of our first responders and essential workers who are keeping us safe while risking their lives! You are truly our angels.” In response, the internet has apparently decided to obsess over the singer’s weight.
For years now, countless publications, especially tabloids, have obsessed over Adele’s figure. She’s been losing weight, which apparently merits a news cycle all its own; tips about “weight loss secrets” behind her “dramatic” body transformation have proliferated, alongside accusations that now the singer is too thin. Some publications have even called upon experts to comment on her methods and their presumed sustainability.
Fans and social media users have already critiqued some of the shallower responses to Adele’s birthday post. Blogger Melissa Blake tweeted, “I see that Adele is trending because people are saying how gorgeous she is since she lost weight. Y’all, we’ve been over this... Your weight doesn’t determine your beauty. Your appearance doesn’t determine your beauty. The number on the scale doesn’t make you worthy or unworthy.” Added writer Emma Kelly, “Yes Adele looks amazing, Adele looked amazing before she lost weight too, Adele is amazing.”
People have long felt comfortable judging Adele’s body—an experience to which most women can likely relate. But the tone people take when commenting on larger bodies in particular always smacks of a unique condescension. Even loved ones will often praise how “healthy” you look as soon as five pounds fall off—and ask if everything’s OK the minute they come back. They’re always just concerned about your well-being, of course, and they never mean anything by it. In popular media, celebrity weight-loss strategies are often implicitly treated as prescriptive—guidelines for anyone above a size 8 to follow if they want to be seen as worthy. And as Lizzo can attest, the scrutiny only intensifies if you happen to be a woman of color.
Adele likely knows this lose-lose scenario better than most. Ever since she became a household name, her body has transfixed the public. Comedians and designers have derided her figure, and in 2012 a Vogue cover launched days of discussion regarding how the magazine had photoshopped her face and body to oblivion. Through it all, though, the singer has responded with tremendous grace. “I’ve never wanted to look like models on the cover of magazines,” she told People in 2012—after Karl Lagerfeld called her “a little too fat.”
“I represent the majority of women,” Adele said at the time, “and I’m very proud of that.”
Whatever has motivated the singer to lose weight in the past few years is honestly none of our business—and it doesn’t detract from the truth of her initial statement. At this point, the only thing any of us should be asking of her is when we might expect her next album. (Seriously, though—when?)