The Danger of Talking about Lizzo’s and Adele’s Bodies

Lizzo and Adele

Love your body. Accept yourself. Feel good in your skin.

The body positivity community promotes self-love and self-acceptance. It encourages us to treat our bodies gently, with compassion and care, and to avoid criticizing, shaming, or punishing them for any perceived flaws. We define body positivity in many ways, but our definitions are often similar in the body they describe: our own. Our body image is the focus.

As we work to develop a positive body image, it is important that we practice extending the same respect, acceptance, and compassion to other bodies as well. This includes all bodies—the bodies of our friends and family members, of strangers, peers, and acquaintances, and of celebrities and public figures we’ll never see in everyday life. We need to see beyond these appearances and question the way we view and talk about them.

Bodies in the headlines

Lately, Lizzo’s and Adele’s bodies have been popular topics of public conversation. In a video widely shared earlier this month, fitness trainer Jillian Michaels commented on Lizzo’s body, remarking “it isn’t going to be awesome if she gets diabetes.” She defended her statement in a follow-up interview, insisting there’s “nothing beautiful about clogged arteries.” Writers across the internet took sides, many either vehemently defending or criticizing Michaels’ comments. Lizzo’s body remains fodder for public chatter.

Elsewhere on social media and in entertainment news, people have been speculating about changes in Adele’s body. Recent paparazzi photos of the singer reignited buzz sparked by a few Instagram photos late last year. In each case, the photos have been the premise of entire articles and segments, their headlines describing her as “showing off” and “flaunting” her weight loss. The coverage largely considers Adele an “inspiration,” often using before-and-after photos of her body and congratulating her on her “transformation.” Though Adele herself hasn’t spoken publicly about her weight, news coverage continues to run.

While some may argue this body commentary is part of being a celebrity—that somehow comments about Lizzo’s and Adele’s weight “come with the territory” of fame—these conversations are damaging to more than just the individuals at the center of it. They reinforce diet culture and an unhealthy relationship with body and weight. They add to weight stigma and bias. They are among the environmental factors that may contribute to the development of an eating disorder.

Recognizing worth independent of appearance

All humans—of all shapes and sizes—have value and deserve dignity. All bodies have a right to exist, just as they are, regardless of the ways they may or may not adhere to societal expectations.

Just as our weight says nothing about our own worthiness, so too is true for others. However, when Lizzo’s weight is an acceptable TV interview question, or Adele’s a trending topic on Twitter, we perpetuate the belief that certain bodies are more deserving of respect than others. We reinforce the idea that different shapes, weights, and sizes are invitation for public comment and that our exteriors are the most important parts about us.

Separating health and weight

Health comes in all sizes, and we cannot evaluate whether Lizzo or Adele or anyone else with similar-sized bodies are healthy based on their size alone. Without context and a full picture of their physical and mental health, we cannot conclude that Lizzo is unhealthy or that Adele is healthy. To do so would be to support weight loss as a universal good and the all-too-pervasive belief that thin equals healthy.

Conversations about bodies, both celebrity and our own, say more about those making the comments than the bodies subject to it. Adele and Lizzo are only putting their figures “on display” if we frame it that way. Is it possible that the singers are simply inhabiting their bodies? Let’s offer them and others the compassion and tolerance we seek to give our own bodies.

If you are struggling with body image and attitudes about weight and size, you may benefit from support from The Emily Program. To get started, call us at 1-888-364-5977 or take our online quiz.

Photo Attribution:

Marc E. – Adele 3, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49453377
Raph_PH – LizzoBrixt06Nov19-10, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=85423827 

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