Yes, it's fatphobic to praise Adele's weight loss in her latest Instagram photo – here's why

Yes, it's fatphobic to praise Adele's weight loss in her latest Instagram photo – here's why
Getty / Instagram @Adele / Screengrabs: Twitter

British music superstar Adele looked set to release another album in 2020, before coronavirus turned the world upside down.

A new body of music from Adele will make a nice change from people relentlessly scrutinising her appearance every time she posts a photo of herself.

If you’re wondering what we’re talking about, there’s been lots of discussion about Adele’s weight in the last few months...

And now people are discussing this topic again after the singer posted a rare snap on Instagram to mark her 32nd birthday, kindly using the opportunity to thank key workers and NHS first responders in the process.

This isn't the first time that a photo of Adele has caused a stir.

In October 2019, photos emerged of Adele at Drake’s birthday party looking slimmer than we’ve seen her appear in the past. Having recently announced her separation from her now ex-husband at the time, people were quick to praise the singer’s “revenge body”.

The discussion over Adele’s body was reignited yet again when the singer posted a Christmassy snap on Instagram in December.

Following the festive Insta upload, people were busy praising the singer's "flex" in transforming her body so much, despite the fact that she’s never commented on her weight loss herself.

And following Adele's birthday snap, the praise for her apparent "glow up" is back.

So why is this an issue? Surely it's nice to compliment people on their appearance?

The vast majority of praise for Adele's appearance has the best intentions. But people 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 Independentin October 2019:

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 obese people and/or obesity. 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.

People think praising Adele in this way is fatphobic, and an example of body shaming which masquerades as a compliment.

If Adele really is happy in her life, then more power to her. But maybe let's avoid making huge judgements about a person's happiness based on how they look.

Because maybe this exaggerated reaction to someone posting a simple birthday photo says more about our attitude to size than it could possibly say about Adele's.

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