Stop saying Kelly Osbourne has 'pulled an Adele' by posting 'weight loss' selfies
Getty

Ever since Adele began posting photos on social media late last year, showing what appeared to be a changed appearance, people haven’t stopped chatting about her weight loss.

The singer’s changing body has prompted debates about how we discuss weight and the fatphobia that drives the framing of weight loss discourse. Is it responsible to celebrate weight loss when we’ve got no idea what someone is going through?

Similar discussions arose when actress Rebel Wilson let fans into her fitness journey on social media, where people praised her for losing weight.

And now reality star Kelly Osbourne has posted a photo on Instagram that's prompted these questions to arise again.

Osbourne posted a selfie of her wearing a red Gucci top. The photo has caused a stir, with lots of commenters and news outlets mentioning the star's apparent weight loss.

One of the most problematic parts of the reaction to Osbourne’s apparent weight loss is that it has been framed as “pulling an Adele”. This is despite the fact that neither Osbourne or Adele have commented on this matter recently.

A headline for the NY Post reads:

Kelly Osbourne pulls an Adele, is unrecognizable after stunning weight loss

Other outlets described Osbourne's weight loss as "staggering" and used the word "transformation" too. There were also many different numerical figures attributed to the reality star's weight loss, despite the fact that she doesn't appear to have commented on it publicly to confirm how much weight, if any, she has lost.

What’s the problem with this?

Kelly Osbourne has been open about her struggles with mental health, substance misuse and body image in the past. Framing a weight loss as “stunning” when we’ve got no idea what the circumstances are feeds into a cycle of “thinness” being equated to happiness and success.

This might well be something Osbourne has been working towards, in which case that’s great, but we shouldn’t assume.

Celebrating thinness without confirmation of what’s going on in someone’s life can be triggering and insensitive to people who are living with eating disorders and other mental health issues.

Lots of the coverage of Osbourne and Adele has also used "before and after" shots to illustrate this supposed "transformation". Eating disorder groups say this can be one of the most damaging things for people who live with eating disorders to encounter online. It's also not very responsible to quote figures when it comes to weight loss, as this is also thought to be triggering to many eating disorder sufferers.

Next is the idea that Osbourne has “pulled an Adele”.

This is an expression that’s gradually been making its way into the online lexicon since the singer posted photos of herself looking slimmer than before.

Why is this unhelpful?

It’s quite damaging to use “pulled an Adele” to mean “lost loads of weight” because every person has their own relationship to their bodies, food and exercise.

It’s not helpful to compare weight loss journeys, especially against someone famous who has a different lifestyle and more means than the average person. If Adele is happy with her body that’s great, but that doesn’t mean “pulling an Adele” should be used as a form of praise when we don’t know the circumstances behind the singer, or anyone else’s, changing physique.

In almost all cases where this expression is used, it positions thinness as an ideal and fatness as an undesirable “before”. And that can be damaging, particularly when losing a lot of weight quickly can be a sign someone is in personal distress or having a difficult time.

We might have been brainwashed into thinking thinness = happiness and health, but we should be careful about celebrating weight loss when we don't know what's going on in someone's life.

Besides, it's also sort of depressing that after all the things Adele has achieved – such as the number one hits, the many records broken and the iconic time she dedicated her Grammy win to Beyonce – that weight loss of all things is being seen as "pulling an Adele".

So next time you see someone saying a person has "pulled an Adele", maybe consider pulling them up on their use of language.

Because the way we talk about these things really matters.

Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)