While flattening the COVID-curve has forced us inside to bake sourdough and increase our curves, one woman has flattened her curves entirely. Adele. No longer rolling in the deep, possibly floating now, like a tiny leaf. Newsflash; Adele has lost weight. She’s barely recognisable. She now looks like every other successful woman in the media. She could now be mistaken for a newsreader, an actor, or a TV personality. She’s got what tabloid mags dub a ‘Revenge Body’.
Not that Adele’s taking revenge, it’s just one of the clichéd ways the media have of describing women’s bodies, as if they were something you could order online to punish wayward men with. Adele is now what’s known in the media as ‘hot’; she’s thin, and gorgeous. And conventional, in the cookie cutter way dominant culture demands.
Adele possibly feels the best she’s felt in years, and possibly feels a huge sense of achievement, and is feeling younger and fitter and has more energy. She has avoided diabetes, is healthier, and has probably achieved the thing we all find harder than multiple orgasms – moderation.
And we don’t like it. We don’t recognise skinny Adele. We miss fat Adele. Women all around the world feel weirdly let down. Their chubby champion is no more. It’s a strange betrayal. Surely her body belongs to no one else but her? Ironically, even though she operated outside the dominant narrative, her body and its deviance from the norm was a part of why we loved Adele. Thin or fat, she was still objectified. Except in a weird way she was objectified by women who feel diminished by the lack of body-positive role models. Being a body-positive hero is a cursed chalice; on the one hand, the love and fan identification is magnified, on the other – you’re just as trapped as any thin chick, because you have to stay fat for the world. That’s a big responsibility: staying big.
But I’ll admit it. Even I felt a bit sad that Adele had hung up the carbs. I even worried that she’d struggle to find the power in that voice without that body. No more full-length dresses. Hello short skirt. I loved that Adele had pushed through to the top of her game without the bump and grind of JLo, or Beyonce, or Brittney, or Shakira. And she’d done it while still wearing pants. She’d done it in a floor-length velour and diamante gown. This Tottenham lass with the wonderfully huge and unapologetic arse. An arse only eclipsed by her massive voice, and even bigger personality.
It’s kind of wrong to admit it, because it’s really not fair to the person who is Adele, but a lot of us loved fat Adele, not just because of her voice and her charisma – but the whole package. Her confidence. The way she held the world stage. She was like an oasis of hope for every woman who woke up and looked at her defiant curves with loathing. She was a deviation in a pervasive narrative about body conformity. A relief that we, as women, might be valued for our merit not our rock hard abs. There’s a trillion thin Adeles with amazing voices. But not so many non-stereotypical divas adored on a world stage the way she was. I’m actually struggling to name any. It’s like there’s a quota for talented, successful, and dearly loved chubby women. It’s like there’s an agreement that only a select few body-positive women can be let through. Chubby heroes like Rebel Wilson. (Who, btw, is also dropping the kilos). The world adores her too. It’s not just the chubbiness. These women exude charisma. They are the relatable relief, the ones you can rest your eyes on who don’t leave you feeling less than you are.
You see, women measure themselves. Not just on scales in the bathroom. They measure themselves against each other. It’s unspoken. But when one of our fat chick friends loses weight, we say ‘you look amazing’ and we mean it, and then we hate ourselves. Perhaps we need to give ourselves AND Adele a break, open the door and let through all the talented chubby girls waiting on the other side.