Adele Live 2017 in Wembley Stadium

Looking to Adele for Body Positivity?

Adele is back this week, making a big celebrity splash with her music and her body positivity messages. Clearly, she knows how to command attention – with three big stories in the New York Times alone so far this week. All this is just part of building the anticipation for her first new album in six years, due for release tomorrow.

But the messaging from Adele on body positivity is what is capturing our attention. Other folks have the subject of her music covered well.

Unusual Weight Loss for Personal Reasons

Over a period of about two years, Adele lost roughly 100 pounds through what she describes as an intensive fitness regime. In her lengthy interview with Oprah earlier this week, she said her goal was not weight loss per se. Rather, she was doing it to deal with personal issues of anxiety related to big life changes:

“It was because of my anxiety. Working out, I would just feel better. It was never about losing weight, it was always about becoming strong and giving myself as much time every day without my phone.”

Body Weight and Body Positivity

Adele has long rejected comments on her body image, saying she “represents the majority of women” with pride. Having lost so much weight, she offered perspective to Oprah:

“My body has been objectified my entire career – I’m too big, I’m too small, I’m hot or I’m not,”

“I never looked up to anyone because of their weight. I was body-positive then and I’m body-positive now. But it’s not my job to validate how people feel about their bodies.”

Seeking Validation and Health

This is the heart of the matter. In a culture filled with weight bias, many people feel torn by harsh cross currents. Can a person acknowledge health concerns and still remain positive about their body? Adele offers an example of tending to mental health and wellness, caring for her body, and claiming body positivity for herself all along.

Sound Bites Podcase, Fatima Cody StanfordFor a different perspective, dietitian Melissa Joy Dobbins recently interviewed obesity medicine physician Fatima Cody Stanford, who told her:

“I do believe that regardless of who you are and what you weigh, you are beautiful. Being a human being is a beautiful thing.

“I treat my patients for their obesity and get them to the best, healthiest weight for them. I don’t give them a target number, and let me tell you, my patients have been trying to get target weights out of me for years. But I don’t do that intentionally, because I don’t believe in needing to get to a certain BMI.”

People need validation. We look in many places for it – friends, family, caregivers, and maybe even celebrities. But ultimately we have to bring that validation into ourselves. Our bodies are frail and mortal. They are perfect and imperfect all at once. But they are ours and ours alone. So we must find ways nurture positivity about these bodies – our very most precious possessions.

Click here, here, and here for more on Adele talking to Oprah about her personal journey. For the conversation between Dobbins and Stanford, click here.

Adele Live 2017 in Wembly Stadium, photograph by Ian Hughes, is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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November 18, 2021