Why You Must Stop Reducing Adele To A Before/After Transformation

by Lindsay Wolf
Originally Published: 
Recording artist Adele
John Shearer/WireImage/Getty

Teenage Lindsay is feeling triggered as hell right now. And I can’t blame her.

A few months ago, Adele dropped a photo on Instagram debuting her newly skinny body, and apparently a shit ton of people care a whole lot about it. Based on the overly zealous internet buzz alone, you’d think the Grammy Award winner had posted a video of her singlehandedly saving a bunch of kittens from a burning house while simultaneously winning the Nobel Peace Prize because she found a cure for cancer. The weight loss accolades and media attention keeps pouring in for the singer, and there’s a hot topic debate making the rounds that has fans divided about whether they prefer her in a fat body or a thin one.

As an eating disorder survivor, I can’t fucking deal with all of this bullshit. We can’t stop placing thinness on a pedestal in our society and it’s dangerous and unacceptable.

I am so damn tired of people drinking the diet culture Kool-Aid and drooling all over someone just because they’ve hustled their way to thinness. If you’re not with me on this one, please take a moment to consider the reality of what the internet has just done to Adele. In a matter of mere hours yesterday, folks online managed to overwhelmingly diminish this woman’s entire existence to a number on a fucking scale while simultaneously sticking a “best in show” trophy right next to her. The comment section was brimming over with comments relating to how much better she looks now that she’s taking up less space.

Whether knowingly or not, Adele has also communicated something quite profound to us all in the highly curated post she shared with her 36+ million followers.

Much like our reigning pop queen Lizzo, Adele has been a body-positive icon who champions self-acceptance in a larger size, being a refreshing alternative to our “thin is in” society, and promoting the empowerment of women as she’s boldly graced magazine covers with all the rebellious energy of a human being who doesn’t give a flying fuck about what anyone thinks of her weight.

“I’ve seen people where it rules their lives, you know, who want to be thinner or have bigger boobs, and how it wears them down. And I don’t want that in my life,” Adele told Vogue in 2011.

She’s also gone on record in the past saying that she’d never work with anyone who ever tried to pressure her to lose weight, that she doesn’t want to look like a skinny-ass model, and that she’s proud to represent women living in bigger bodies.

I want to make something clear. Adele is allowed to do whatever the hell she wants with her body.

It is her life, and she has the free will to alter herself for any reason. She also deserves to express herself as she sees fit, and I respect her right to do so.

But, we also need to talk about how, for too damn long, women have had to face unsustainable and unrealistic beauty ideals before we’ve ever gotten the chance to be championed for our talent, skill, and experience. That’s what is happening to Adele when we center her weight loss above everything else she has accomplished.

Diet culture has created a collective hierarchy of bodies, and if you’re not a thin, white person at the top of the heap, you’re considered more expendable and less desirable. Young girls are following this fucked up universal narrative with wide, innocent eyes as we teach them how much or little space they’re allowed to take up as they grow. They see you praising and complimenting Adele because she’s smaller, and I don’t need to tell you what message that sends because you already know.

On the National Eating Disorder Association’s website, there are some mic-dropping truths that deserve as much – or more – limelight as Adele’s fluctuating body size. According to NEDA researchers, the best-known factor for developing an eating disorder in this lifetime is our societal obsession with thinness. Millions of teens and adults are restricting themselves at alarming rates in the name of weight loss. Because of our destructive idolization of thin bodies, kids as young as six are now beginning to feel the need to lose weight. An overwhelming number of school-aged girls who read magazines and see images of famous women in the media have also shared that they negatively compare their own bodies to the celebrities they look up to.

This cultural messaging has our youth feeling immense pressure to conform if they want to be accepted in this world, that’s for damn sure. And since UCLA already proved in 2007 that diets don’t work in the long-term for the vast majority of people, our children are joining us in a dangerous game that was never rigged in our favor to begin with.

I’m here to say that enough is enough.

Highly publicized weight loss “before and after” transformations like Adele’s are one of the main reasons I started starving myself, binging and purging my food, and pounding diet pills as a freshman in high school. It’s why I joined Weight Watchers four separate times in an already skinny body. It’s why I lived for over two decades with body dysmorphia and in a chronic state of self-loathing. As I kept the shame-inducing secret of my forced thinness locked up inside, the nonstop compliments I received about my thin body only fed into my obsession. No one knew the dangerous measures I took in order to stay skinny. Even more heartbreaking, no one ever stopped to ask me if I was hurting myself in the process.

It’s been a hot minute since those painful self-harming days. This past January marked three full years of eating disorder recovery and a healed relationship with my body. It certainly helps that I also happened to birth two amazing kids who inspired my body-acceptance journey. And it’s definitely been a surprising turn of events to be living so loudly and proudly these days in a newly fat bod.

My external appearance has drastically changed since leaving eating disorder territory, and yet I feel the freest and most at home in my body than I ever fucking have. But since our society would rather shame someone like me for gaining weight than celebrate my overall journey, I’m left in the dark again as I see yet another public figure grossly rewarded just because they hopped onto the diet culture hamster wheel.

Now that I know what I know, I will never again doubt that I am as worthy of success, love, and all the good shit in a size 20 as I was in a size 2. I’ve come to understand that my value in this world has absolutely nothing to do with my thigh gap. I’ve learned that there are so many more awesome things I can be doing with my time instead of losing weight. I’ve discovered firsthand that health can be achieved at different sizes. Most importantly, I’ve realized that the size of my pants is the least interesting thing about me.

Adele’s fucking pant size is the least interesting thing about her too. Remember that.

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