Opinion | Why Adele’s transformation can be a challenge for other women

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Susanna Schrobsdorff writes the newsletter “It’s Not Just Youon Substack.com.

Last summer, my 20-year-old daughter was looking for new pants when the salesperson told her, “These make you look so much slimmer.” My daughter turned around and asked with a raised eyebrow, “Why would I want that?”

And yes, why? He was right to point out our assumption that the thinner the better. As a woman who grew up on Jane Fonda’s self-criticism and coaching videos, I know I have a lot to learn on this topic.

Still, I understand why so much euphoria over someone else’s weight loss. I was not surprised when Oprah Winfrey asked Adele a few weeks ago how she was dealing with the intense and emotional debate about her new body. The British singer has lost almost 100 pounds and people are still arguing about how to talk about it, and even if we should be talking about it.

Read in Spanish: Adele transformed herself. Here’s why that’s a challenge for some women.

After being the most revered plus size role model the planet (apart from Oprah herself), Adele is now on the other side of the movement body positive. “I feel bad if I’ve made someone feel terrible about themselves,” she told Oprah, adding almost apologetically that she had no intention of losing weight and that she just wanted to get stronger after the divorce. her.

British singer-songwriter Adele spoke with Oprah Winfrey during CBS’s “Adele One Night Only,” a combination concert and interview which aired on Nov. 14. (Video: John Farrell/The Washington Post)

In a cover story for the november issue fashionAdele said she understood why some fans were hurt: “I visually represented a lot of women.” Commentators pointed out that praising thin Adele could come across as dismissive of heavier Adele and those who resemble her. But Adele also pushed back on the “brutal conversations” other women were having about her body, noting that she was being objectified from all sides.

These exchanges reveal a gulf between our discourse of empowerment and the real-world expectations women face. Many of us are stuck in the middle, talking about an awakening, but knowing that conventional beauty ideals still hold sway over us. It’s like a bard cultural, between a Kardashians present and a daring future of Frances McDormands.

Even Beyoncé, an icon of confidence, has to navigate the tension between how we want to see ourselves and how the world treats us. Wrote “Bootylicious” to reject comments about his weight when he was 19 years old. And later, in his documentary homecoming, filmed after having twins, Beyoncé steps on a scale and the camera zooms in on the number between her feet: 79 kilos. “Every woman’s nightmare,” she says.

There are millions of #BodyPositivity posts, TikTok videos, ads, and articles reaffirming that all women are beautiful and sexy regardless of size or age. But the thing is: even when we post photos of our love handles to say we accept them, the subject remains our body. And even as we fight to expand beauty standards, we continue to associate feminine appearance with feminine value.

It’s much easier to accept body positive for others than for ourselves. Someone posts about self-esteem issues and we respond with hearts and shouts of “You are beautiful just the way you are!” Meanwhile, we look at ourselves in the mirror worrying about the fat on our backs.

All this positivity has not weakened the market for beauty treatments. We keep downloading apps to diet; cosmetic procedures They didn’t stop being popular during the COVID-19 pandemic when we weren’t even going to the dentist.

And despite the progress with more diverse models and clothing options, those who grew up in the age of body positive they do not necessarily feel freer to be insecure than their mothers. The generation of selfie surely you have spent more time contemplating your own image than any other. Eating disorders are increasing among generation Z. And an investigation revealed that Instagram exacerbates negative feelings of adolescents on their bodies. Social platforms are designed to encourage comparisons and link appearance to likes, and this is toxic to self esteem.

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I walked this confusing tightrope long before there was a language for it. I thought by now I would have stopped worrying about my size or my gray hair, but I still do, which is embarrassing. I have gained and lost the same 30 pounds at least three times since I was 16 years old. Weight comes and goes like a drag to deal with stressful events like a divorce or death of a parent, or a new job.

I should probably say I’m the same inside no matter what size. But when I see that something is big or small, at that moment it seems that that garment belongs to another me. Today, I try to keep my complaints to myself so as not to spread the virus of insecurity and to avoid being scolded by my children, who will surely continue to show me the way.

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Opinion | Why Adele’s transformation can be a challenge for other women


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