November 28, 2015

Is Adele Fat...?

...And do we care? When is It OK to be fat?

Last Friday (11/20) Adele released her third album entitled 25. The album has been on shelves for only just over a week but has broken music records worldwide. I'll be 25 next year and I haven't broken any kind of record, not even a vinyl. Much like fellow popular singers, Adele has a huge following and a "stan base". We all know Adele can sing the roof off of any given building and she is a radiant beauty. In addition to all of her beauty and achievements she is also plus sized...Or is she? I saw someone mention on Twitter the fact that she has lost some weight since her last album. In response to this several people came to her defense saying "That doesn't matter! She's beautiful". Some people don't even address the fact that she is plus sized like they do with other celebrities. Some people might even say that I’m wrong for mentioning her size when she’s so much more than her weight, but I’m still typing. Just a few months ago Rihanna showed off her body in a traditional Carnival garb during Carnival season in Barbados. She seemed to be a little bigger than normal and folks were saying how fat she looked and how the weight was unbecoming. When Tyra Banks put on weight a few years back and faced heavy criticism causing her to tell everyone to "kiss her fat ass" it was a problem. Similar things have happened with Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, etc. Those are tiny examples of how weight shaming is real, even with smaller sized celebrities.This year Tess Holliday became the first super plus sized model to earn a modeling contract with a major agency. She is beautiful, outspoken and graceful, yet with one glimpse of her Instagram you'll see comments like "You're too fat, you need to lose weight for your health" or the grossest popular one, "You're not going to live long enough to see your son grow up". The last and best example is the exuberant Academy Award nominee Gabourey Sidibe, oh the backlash she faces for merely existing is so hateful and annoying. Yet with Adele her weight doesn't matter. Why?

I believe it's because Adele exists but she's not visible. Yes, she has a new album out and her face is all over magazines, blogs, and advertisements, but her body? Not so much. I saw a picture of Adele leaving some event and the caption read, "Adele in her signature black attire" which intrigued me. Black is a wonderful color and it also has a slimming effect. I can't help but wonder why black is her signature clothing choice. Usually when any celebrity (or even regular folks) have put on some weight and want to mask it, they throw on black from head to toe hoping to hide the bulge. Is it truly Adele's choice to wear black? The difference between Adele and other plus size celebrities is visibility. Adele is heard rather than seen and I'm not sure if it's her choice or not but it's working. She has mentioned that she doesn't want to look like the women in magazines, but she never draws attention to herself by wearing bold colors or a statement piece, because her voice commands all the attention and that alone is amazing. Which leads me to my initial question, when is it ok to be fat?

Fatness is ok in [American] society if you're invisible, funny, or a man. According to society, if you're in the shadows or if you are hiding your fatness it's fine. That’s not to say that invisible fat people don’t receive backlash and are “welcomed into society” but it’s basically if I don’t see it, it doesn’t bother me. Visibility is bothersome as with any group of people who are considered to be socially deviant.

Over the past few years I’ve noticed that a lot of comedians or comedic actors are overweight. For the longest time being fat itself was funny. The “I’m always hungry/eating” or “I will sit on you” jokes have been around forever, people make fat jokes nowadays without even thinking about it because it’s so common and accepted by the general public. Again, visibility. Of course when someone is standing on a stage telling jokes you can see that he/she is fat but the jokes are at the forefront and to a lot of people the fatness is a part of the joke even if the comedian didn’t intend it to be. Growing up my least favorite comedian was DL Hughley. My parents watched ComicView and for a while he was a regular on the show. His routine always included pointing and laughing at someone in the audience, especially a fat person. I’m sure after a while fat people refused to sit in the front section of his shows because it was expected to be made fun of. My mom went to a live comedy show at this club that my uncle owned. My uncle thought it would be a great treat to give my parents the VIP section in the front. My mom did not want to sit at the front and it was too late to switch seats. After the show my mom seemed a little upset, and later I found out it was because the comedian ridiculed her as a part of the act. I think it shows a true lack of comedic talent if one has to rely on the audience for material, but I digress.

Lastly, fat men are far more acceptable in general society than fat women. On most TV shows centered around a couple, the man is usually stocky/chubby while the woman is cute, thin, and petite. Fatness isn’t feminine or pretty in TV Land, I guess. There are exceptions Mike and Molly, Roseanne...but again they’re comediennes. I have yet to see a fat woman play someone’s serious love interest.

Fatness and visibility are two of the most important things when considering when fatness is acceptable. There are some exceptions as I have listed above, but even still no one wants visible fatness. I used Adele as an example, I’m not picking on her at all but seeing the “her weight doesn’t matter” idea specifically attached to her name is interesting. It’s special because this same kind of “pass” doesn’t seem to be attached to anyone else in the spotlight even if they are very talented. There have been other celebrities who have been given a “pass” and it’s simply because they don’t address their size. If Adele decided she wanted to make fast-paced dance-pop music and wanted to do choreographed dances in the style of Beyonce, I think things would be different. If she wanted to wear a bold bright neon green crop tops with the words “Fat Fine” across her bust, things would probably be different. If she decided to ditch her modest black attire and go with sexy deep plunging necklines and bold bright prints, things would probably be different. However, her talent isn’t related to her size and she has definitely emphasized that. She doesn’t model, she isn’t a dancer, and she’s not a sex symbol. Her voice is her talent and her voice is her gift to the masses, and who doesn’t love a beautiful gift? Forget dieting I just wish I could sing well...


  1. Sometimes I just get tired of having to tell people not to make judgements of all fat men based on a few TV Characters who are acting in a show, not living a real life.

    On "Roseanne" Roseanne and Dan Conner showed more husband/wife intimacy than most of the chubby husband/thin wife combos

    You are just as unlikely to see a fat man stripped down to his underwear in a sex scene on TV as a fat woman.

    You said:
    ........Lastly, fat men are far more acceptable in general society than fat women. On most TV shows centered around a couple, the man is usually stocky/chubby while the woman is cute, thin, and petite...............

    1. ...Also I'm generalizing fat characters on TV. The fat guys are played by real men, they have the opportunity to be seen and lots of fat women don't get that opportunity. I'm also not saying that fat men don't face criticism and limited roles, they do of course. I just believe it's more prevalent and obvious for women. Thanks so much for your comment!!

  2. I can see your point and for the most part I agree with you. I still believe that outside of TV there are still more fat men in Hollywood. I think women do receive more criticism for being fat and visible.