I am reluctant to write about this because I did not want to fuel the “Skinny Adele” fire, but I believe that there are some important things to say.
The writing of the article was mainly sparked by a discussion I had with a dear friend after seeing a post commenting on the now-famous birthday photo.
Let’s rip the band aid and go ahead with this.
Adele is now #Thinspiration
The first base problem I see is this: never mind the fact that Adele has achieved stardom because of her amazing talents, the inspiration comes from her weight loss (and, to an extent, from her being “allowed to be bigger” and still “make it” beforehand). I believe this is problematic at many levels, but the first one is that we still cannot see a woman as a person, but only as a body.
Why is it that society has to comment on Adele’s body? And where are the articles about how a male singer is “allowing bigger men” to be successful?
Why is Adele “thinspiration”, when she clearly is so much more (just look here)?
Commenting on bodies
Now, this is something very close to my heart and also something that kept me trapped for many, many years.
Why do we, as a society, feel that it is okay to comment on other people’s bodies? I grew up in Italy (but it could have been anywhere else) and I developed from early on a sense that my body was not my own. It started in the family. Everyone and anyone (even my next-door neighbour, when I was already in my 20s) feels they have the right to say stuff like “you’ve gained weight” or even the more insidious “you should lose some weight”. We don’t tell people that they should change their job (mostly); we don’t tell people they should change their holiday destination, or what have you.
But somehow, we tell women what they should weigh, what they should wear and what they should do with the kids they’ve given birth to, because they’re just an extension of their body, apparently.
Who owns the woman’s body? Is a woman not much more than just a body? It seems that we are still far from the idyllic times when women will be treated as the union of mind, soul and body that we are.
The last problem I want to address is a very delicate one and I believe it stems from the above-mentioned fact that bodies are continually commented on, directly and indirectly through the media.
For some time in my 20s, I suffered from disordered eating (anorexia at first and then binge eating). The mental health consequences are immense and it takes many years to free oneself (if ever) from the cage of EDs.
I am not here to comment on Eds because I don’t have enough knowledge, but I can certainly comment on my experience.
Because I grew up thinking that my body was not my own (I still fall into that trap), it seemed that it was, however, my responsibility to make it look and feel just how men and society at large wanted it. This lead to a very dysfunctional relationship with my body that took many years to heal.
I am not here to comment on Adele’s body. She can do what she wants because it is hers. It’s not even a thing she owns: it is her.
What I want to do is to comment on the “Skinny Adele” situation. Unfortunately, many young girls will see the award winning singer be praised for losing weight and the idea that they need to be ‘skinny’ to be valued as a woman will be reinforced. This is not Adele’s fault (again, she can do what she wants) but the fault of all the articles that focus on the ‘amazing weight loss’ and not so much on the ‘amazing talent’.
The conversation needs to change
What I hope now is that this will not be just another article about “Skinny Adele” (there are enough of those). I want this article to help change the conversation around this.
We always blame the ‘media’, but we don’t realise that we are the media. The media is fuelled by our social profiles, our choices of likes and dislikes, our screen time and what we read and share. We have the power and the responsibility to change the conversation, now like never before. We can and must call people out, we must broaden the conversation, go deeper and most of all look out for each other.
Let’s change the trend from “Skinny Adele” back to “Adele”.
If you are struggling with your body image, consider speaking to someone about it. I have put together a useful list of links here.