Ultimately, Adele can’t win. No one knows if she lost weight for health reasons or aesthetic ones, but she’s allowed to make the choice, even if it bums some of us out. Her silence on her weight loss is perhaps the most important factor here. She hasn’t (yet?) done a cover of Women’s Health in a swimsuit; she so far hasn’t done a Harper’s Bazaar “What I Eat in a Day” video. Her comments on working out and weight loss thus far have mostly been pretty agnostic, saying that she does it merely to have the endurance to perform live. “I’m not, like, skipping to the fucking gym,” she told Rolling Stone in 2015.
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But without Adele even trying, her body is both the medium and the message. We don’t know how much she has actually lost, why she lost it, or how she did it, but we have visual proof it was done. Even her Instagram post for her birthday was more about first responders and essential workers than it was about her.
Thus goes the double bind for a celebrity like Adele, made famous by their talents but rendered endearing because they look “relatable,” even when “relatable” still means exceptionally beautiful by any measure. She can’t come out and talk about the weight loss, because that suggests there was something wrong with how she looked before. She also can’t ignore it, because that allows strangers to ascribe value and meaning to her body. She might have lost the weight for her own quality of life, or she might have lost it because of the enormous pressure of being a person whom people stare at all day. Both are valid reasons, but only one feels fraught with the pressure of being a disappointment.
Like most things, our response to Adele’s weight loss says more about us than it does about her. If we’re cheering her on, it suggests a kind of misery we already have about our weight and our relationship with our own body. If we’re gloomy about it, it’s because she reminds us of our own struggle with conventional beauty and the ways we don’t fit in. Adele can’t win, and neither can we.
But, hey, at least we can still listen to 21. “Rolling in the Deep” slaps, no matter what version of Adele we get. ●
This content was originally published here.