In case you didn’t know, a certain British music superstar named Adele hosted Saturday Night Live over the weekend.
Fans had hoped that Adele might be releasing new music, but instead they were treated to a snippets of her classic hits in between comedy sketches.
During the live broadcast Adele even made a passing reference to her recent weight loss for the first time. She joked:
I know I look really, really different since you last saw me.
But actually, because of all the Covid restrictions...I had to travel light and I could only bring half of me. And this is the half I chose!
Adele is right that a lot of people were watching the TV thinking about how different she looked.
In fact, as the show was being broadcast, Twitter was flooded with posts remarking on her “transformation”, "flex", "glow-up", showering her with praise in the process.
Lots of people have even said they feel "inspired" to lose weight, and commented on her appearance.
And this has sparked a debate about the appropriate way to acknowledge a person’s weight loss or comment on it.
Should weight loss be something we always praise, without any knowledge of the context?
After all, weight loss or weight gain aren't always a sign someone is in a good place. And given Adele has recently been through a divorce, is it wise to brand her new look a "revenge body" when we don't know anything about her personal situation?
Some people have suggested that the reaction to Adele’s weight loss has roots in the "fatphobic" assumption that thinner is always better.
https://t.co/IUaIboZJKX— Crystal | Black Lives Matter (@Crystal | Black Lives Matter) 1603632188
Adele has always been very very pretty— caliphornia QING (@caliphornia QING) 1603563074
if i see another tweet gushing about how sexy Adele is now that she’s lost weight, i’m going to lose it. just say t… https://t.co/xrcgpsxiQQ— lyric (@lyric) 1603645563
The debate over the reaction to Adele’s weight loss has been rumbling on since last year, when she posted photos on Instagram of her looking noticeably thinner.
So why is this an issue? Surely it's nice to compliment people on their appearance?
The vast majority of people praising for Adele's appearance clearly have the best intentions.
But many have pointed out that it's maybe not the best thing to leap to sweeping judgements when we've got no knowledge of what's going on in Adele's life. After all, we don't know her personally and weight loss isn’t always a cause for celebration, praise or any judgement on a person's current mood or relationship history. Weight loss can be a positive thing, but it isn't always a "glow up". For some people it can also be seen as a negative change.
As Adwoa Darko wrote in The Independent in October last year:
The underlying premise behind the reaction to Adele’s photos was a) the assumption that her 'old' body was 'wrong' and b) that she made a deliberate and 'healthy' choice.
Adele could be happy, healthy and intentionally trying to lose weight. But why do we continue to comment on people’s bodies without knowing context? How can we be sure that a 'compliment' is not fuelling or validating a potential crisis?
Some people think that praising someone’s weight loss without having any knowledge of the circumstances is an example of fatphobia.
Fatphobia is a fear and dislike of people who live in larger bodies. On a wider level, it can manifest in different ways, all of which elevate the status of thin bodies within society at the expense of those who don't conform to or aspire to thinness.
This debate continued last year when she posted again at Christmas, and reached fever-pitch when she posted a full body snap for her birthday in May.
please stop saying Adele had a “glow up” we have no idea what her health was/is like and this is just reinforcing t… https://t.co/8GRrJyEvsa— ً (@ً) 1588742754
Adele seemed in the best spirits hosting SNL and even joked about her new look herself, so hopefully she's in a good place and all is well.
But it's a reminder that we shouldn't leap to praise weight loss, because you never truly know what's going on in people's lives.
A person's happiness might have absolutely no relation to their weight or appearance. And if the wider public are happier when our favourite musicians are thinner, well, that's our problem.