Adeles birthday photo: Is celebrating weight-loss fat-phobic? – Insider – INSIDER
- The British singer-songwriter Adele recently posted a photo of her 32nd birthday celebration in isolation and thanked first responders.
- Some fans took the opportunity to comment on the star’s apparent weight loss, which has been followed since she posted pictures at Drake’s birthday party in October.
- But the compliments have prompted discussions about the potential harms of celebrating weight loss, how to discuss weight in a healthy way, and whether it’s appropriate to comment at all.
- An expert told Insider that context is key when determining what’s appropriate to say about someone’s weight loss. And a pandemic might be a particularly bad time to focus on weight.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Adele caused a stir on social media on Wednesday after posting photos of her 32nd birthday celebration in isolation and thanking first responders and essential workers for their service during the pandemic.
Fans and fellow celebrities complimented her “glow up” in the photo, in which she looks particularly slender.
The British singer-songwriter has apparently been losing weight since her divorce in September and has previously credited a special diet and a lot of Pilates. There was a buzz about photos of the singer looking slender after Drake’s birthday party in October, then at a Christmas party, and then again on a beach in January.
Many have said the singer looks “gorgeous” and “unrecognizable,” by way of a compliment.
But the latest photo has also sparked discussions about what it means to celebrate a person’s weight loss. People have voiced concerns about whether it’s appropriate to comment at all, and whether there’s a healthy way to do so.
An expert told Insider that all the answers depend on context.
Fans voiced concerns that complimenting someone’s weight loss could send a dangerous message
People on social media were quick to create memes about Adele’s photo, but some also expressed concerns that the emphasis on weight loss could be unhealthy and harmful to people.
Roisin Ingle, a writer, pointed out that weight loss isn’t an indicator of worth and said Adele should be celebrated for her talents.
—Roisin Ingle (@roisiningle) May 6, 2020
Sherronda Brown has written that complimenting weight loss can be problematic in part because it assumes thinner bodies are more valuable, but also because it can put commentators’ own insecurities on the person they’re ostensibly celebrating.
“My body is not better now than it was six months ago just because it happens to take up less space, and I need people to stop trying to make me carry the weight of their own fat hatred,” Brown wrote for Wear Your Voice magazine in March.
In response to previous posts about Adele’s body, Audra Williams, a writer in Toronto, tweeted that weight loss could be a sign of serious physical or mental-health issues and that complimenting it out of context it could send a dangerous message that how you look is more important than whether you are healthy.
—Audra Williams (@audrawilliams) December 24, 2019
Research suggests appearance is not a good indication of health
Studies have indeed found that while weight can be a component of health, factors like blood pressure, insulin resistance, and cholesterol levels are more important.
Fat-shaming could also contribute to greater health risks rather than motivate people to lose weight. And people with poorer body image can face a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes regardless of their body-mass index, or their height-to-weight ratio.
Pursuing weight loss no matter the health costs can also increase the risk of dangerous eating disorders and worsen health. And during a global pandemic, people can be particularly vulnerable to disordered eating.
Weight loss can also weaken your immune system, so right now even more caution than usual is important when considering or discussing weight loss.
It can be supportive to comment on someone’s weight loss, but context is everything
“To make a blanket statement that commenting on someone’s weight is horrible is shortsighted,” Coffey previously told Insider.
Coffey said that for people who have made an effort to lose weight or become fit, compliments can be an important source of validation and support, particularly when they come from people they care about.
“It can be incredibly validating and invigorating to have someone that you love notice and celebrate it if you’ve been trying to lose weight,” she said.
But where comments can be problematic is if you know someone has a history of disordered eating or health problems, mental or physical, related to food, Coffey added.
And as Brown wrote, some people may prefer to be left alone entirely, particularly by those they don’t know well. In that case, comments about their body in any way are likely better left unsaid.
If the person is someone you’re close to and you aren’t sure how your compliment will be received, the best approach is to ask the person directly what they’re proud of and how they’d like to be supported, Coffey said.
“Ask them what they doing, how they’re feeling, and then celebrate whatever thing they express pride in,” she said. “Let them tell you what they want you to be excited about for them.”
That might include weight loss, but it could also involve things like feeling more energetic or being stronger.