Complimenting Adele’s weight loss is fat-phobic, critics say
- British singer-songwriter Adele was lauded by fans and fellow celebrities for her apparent weight loss after posting photos from a Christmas party.
- The star was first recognized for significant weight loss in October, when she posted pictures of herself at Drake’s birthday party.
- But the compliments have prompted an online discussion over 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 context is key when determining what’s appropriate to say about someone’s weight loss.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more.
Weight loss is a hot topic over the holidays, whether you’re fielding comments from well-meaning relatives or worrying about maintaining fitness goals over the cold winter months.
Now, British music maven Adele is also at the center of weight-loss discussions since, on Christmas Eve, she posted Instagram photos of herself looking trim at a holiday party. The post follows another set of eye-catching images she shared in October after attending Drake’s birthday party.
The star has apparently been on a weight-loss journey since her divorce in September, and credits a special diet and a lot of pilates for her results.
Fans and fellow celebrities have celebrated Adele’s apparent weight loss, with some commenting on her Christmas Eve post that the singer looks “gorgeous” and others going as far as to say she looks “unrecognizable.”
The comments have prompted online controversies over the potential harms of celebrating someone’s weight loss, how to discuss weight in a healthy way, and whether it’s appropriate to comment at all. An expert told Insider the answer to all of the questions raised depends on context.
Some people believe complimenting someone’s weight-loss sends a dangerous message
In response to the praise around Adele’s body, Toronto-based writer Audra Williams pointed out in a viral Twitter post that weight loss can be a sign of serious physical or mental health issues, and 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
Other writers and advocates were quick to back her point.
—Dr. Nadine Thornhill Ed.D (she/her) (@NadineThornhill) December 24, 2019
Plenty of Twitter users also took issue with the implication that people’s weight is a measure of their value as a person.
—POPDUST (@Popdust) December 26, 2019
It’s true that appearance is a poor indication of health
Research does indeed show that while weight can be a component of health, factors like blood pressure, insulin resistance, and cholesterol levels are more important.
Fat-shaming has also been shown to raise health risks, rather than motivate people to lose weight. And people with poorer body image face a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes, research shows, regardless of their body mass index, or height-to-weight ratio.
Pursuing weight loss no matter the health costs can also increase the risk of dangerous eating disorders and worsen health.
Context is everything when it comes to commenting on someone’s weight
Since weight loss is complex, discussions about it should be, too, according to Kelly Coffey, a certified personal trainer and health coach. “To make a blanket statement that commenting on someone’s weight is horrible is shortsighted,” she 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.
If you aren’t sure about whether your compliment will be well-received or not, Coffey said the best approach is to ask the person directly what they’re proud of, and how they’d like to be supported.
“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.