Anyone who’s ever shed a significant amount of weight knows the look: the one you get when someone who hasn’t seen you for a while takes your new body in, a thrilled yet somehow appraising smile on their face, rushing to cover you in compliments before asking, “So…how’d you do it?” Right now, singer Adele is on the receiving end of the look from just about everyone after posting a birthday photo of herself to Instagram that suggested she’d lost weight. Chrissy Teigen commented, “I mean are you kidding me,” James Charles chimed in with “YOU LOOK AMAZING,” and pretty soon, the internet was alight with stories about Adele’s “dramatic” and “incredible” weight loss. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Adele (@adele) on May 5, 2020 at 9:38pm PDT I can’t deny the possibility that the weight-loss compliments might feel good to Adele, because they used to feel good to me. When I lost 30 pounds (approximately 13 kilograms) between my senior year of college and my “freshman year of life,” I ate up the shocked and impressed reactions of my friends and family as though they were the calories I was denying myself, savouring the scanty fulfilment of fitting into single-digit jeans and plunging ever lower on the scale in an attempt to keep the positive feedback going. When those same friends and family started to express concern that I was losing too much weight, my disordered eating-prone brain saw that as an even bigger success: I wanted, to quote Melissa Broder’s 2016 book of essays So Sad Today, “to live in a body that is so far away from being fat that it has room to gain weight and still not even rub elbows with chubbiness.” I wanted the praise—I still do—but somewhere along the line, my wires got crossed to the point where being thin was its own reward. Like 97% of dieters, I eventually regained the weight I’d lost (and then some), and nothing surprised me more than how much the sudden taking away of approval hurt. Nobody was outright cruel or dismissive of my body, but hearing people’s silence—coupled with “You look great!” affections suddenly lavished on newly slim friends instead of me—felt like confirmation that I’d strayed too far from the way I was supposed to look.Of course, few people have bad intentions when they compliment dieters on weight loss, and it’s human nature to react to a visible change in someone’s physical appearance. Still, seeing celebrities and gossip websites coo over Adele’s “transformation” feels like a repudiation of all the hard work I’ve done on internalising the message that my body is worthy just as it is.Part of the difficulty in metabolising the media’s treatment of Adele’s weight loss is, of course, the hypocrisy of it all. This is a woman who was held up as a model of body confidence, a woman we were told to admire and emulate at her heavier weight. So why, now, does it feel like everyone was just waiting for her to shed those pesky pounds so they could slot her in the “conventionally attractive” box?Let’s be clear: the fault doesn’t lie with Adele, who can—and should—post as many slimmed-down selfies as she wants to. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating a weight-loss milestone, but the onus is on us not to fetishise that weight loss as either a moral imperative or an aesthetic level up. And let’s say it for good measure, because it’s worth drilling into our brains (through rote memorisation if necessary): there is no amount of weight you can lose or gain that will make you more or less deserving of love, respect, or kindness. Maybe we’d all be better off if we just took Adele’s—and all of our—weight off the table, and kept counting down to that new album.This story originally appeared on Vogue.com.Bring the world of Vogue to you with every issue delivered free to your door and insider access to Vogue VIP for just $6.50 per issue.
Original article published by @VogueAustralia >