Sarah Caden: 'Slimmed-down Adele discovers weight loss is just showing off'
Catty commentators choose to overlook the fact singer still remains the same person, writes Sarah Caden
Last Sunday, singer Adele debuted her new body at her pal Drake's 33rd birthday party. A day later, she was flaunting that new figure, allegedly 20lb lighter than it was a few months ago, while out and about in LA.
Somehow it seemed fitting that recently separated Adele should reveal her reported revenge body in the same week as Halloween.
So many observations of the body were alarmingly similar to the way in which it was reported that, for example, Holly Willoughby had dressed up as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, or Heidi Klum had, shockingly, made herself ugly as a naked zombie.
It was as though Adele had donned a new physical form and was exhibiting herself in it - showing off and flaunting this new, thin person.
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Not Adele, in the same body, her own body, but simply lighter in weight. But a new Adele. Shiny and new, worth showing off.
You could simply take the position that all of this just backs up the notion that to be fat is bad, and to be thin is to be good, but there's more to it than that. The language around Adele's weight loss is far from complimentary. She's showcasing and flaunting and showing off, and who ever likes a show-off?
There's a cattiness in much of the commentary, while it claims to delight in what is "impressive" and an "achievement". How the hell did she do it? Asking that isn't exactly kind. It's loaded with the ferocity that comes when people feel betrayed, and there is the sense of betrayal that Adele has sort of gone to the dark side by losing weight. How dare she? There she was out representing millions of women, and very outspokenly and proudly doing so, but now she's abandoned them. And she looks pretty pleased about it.
Adele hasn't officially said so herself, but apparently the answer to the 'how' is with the help of her friend, Ayda Field, wife of Robbie Williams, sessions with the Body Coach, Joe Wicks, reformer Pilates and a lot of cardio and resistance training, as well as a mostly plant-based diet.
Aside from how she did it, though, there's the why, and this is where it becomes problematic. There's no way that Adele, who once faced down Karl Lagerfeld's assertion that she was "a little too fat", is going to say that she lost weight because it made her feel good or she simply wanted to.
Because, oddly, while Adele was 20lb heavier, no one said, "Hey, how and why did you do that?"
You don't, do you? You never did, even before we became more sensitive and embracing and honest about self-image and loving who we are and whatever shape we come in.
You never say to someone overweight: "So, how did you get that body?" But you can say it to a thinner person.
About a thinner person, you can say all sorts. "Look at the size of you." "You're wasting away." "Are you eating at all?" "I hope you don't lose any more weight." And that's just if you're an ordinary Joe Soap.
If you're a celebrity, you are strutting and showing off and parading like a cockatoo, just by leaving the house. Adele was reported to be "still" showing off her new physique on Halloween night, in a costume that was figure-hugging but in the ha'penny place of flesh-exposure compared to most people that night.
To call it showing off said little about the costume and a lot about how we think we can pick on someone when they present themselves as slimmer.
Adele, who seems pretty happy now, but ever appeared thus, may well be wary of making any comment on why she decided to lose weight. She could lose a lot of love that way.
It should be taken into account, however, that she's been losing weight steadily for years, since the birth of her son Angelo seven years ago.
She had a vocal haemorrhage in 2011 and gave up sugary tea, of which she used to drink 10 cups a day, and all "spicy, citrusy and tangy food".
"It's f**king boring," Adele told an Australian TV show, "but I don't think you take your voice seriously until you've an accident".
But health reasons are OK when it comes to weight loss, so it was also OK in 2016, when Adele lost about a stone to "get more stamina" for touring.
This latest 20lb, however, seems to have pushed her over a certain line. It's made her 'other'. With this weight loss, it seems, Adele's not who she was before.
She is, obviously, but oh no she's not. And, worse, she's flaunting this.
If Adele were to come out now and say, "My doctor told me I had to shed the weight or I'd have type-two diabetes and bad knees," she might get a pass. She'd still be bigger at heart, so to speak, but merely cloaked in a thinner appearance.
In reality, Adele has kept a fairly low profile over the period of her weight loss and one has to wonder if this was deliberate. She knows, only too well, how much affection for her came from standing up, loud and proud, happy to say she found it hard to find off-the-shelf clothes to fit, and to tell fat-shamers to shag off.
We don't feel quite the same warmth for someone who says they are thin and proud, or skinny and happy with it. Adele might well wonder why people can't just be happy that she's happy, but that's not the way it works. No matter what way she wears it, slimmer is simply showing off.