While we all wrestle with Covid-19 and its immediate and long term effects, the media has turned its attention to multi-award winning singing star, Adele, and her weight loss ‘transformation’. Is it time to put media in time out?
It’s a struggle
It can be tough being female. No really, it can.
I’m not just talking about the real medical challenges we experience. Periods, birth control, childbirth, hormone imbalances, menopause to name a few. Or the lack of real understanding of how our bodies tick in more than a hundred years of medical advances.
I’m not even speaking about the endless nonsense we get bombarded with everyday. The perfect girlfriend, wife, worker, mum or boss and how they should behave, either.
Nor am I referring to ridiculous notions that we can/can’t have it all. Or the subversive ‘campaigns’ which pit women against each other, causing discrimination and judgement in the female community.
And all that is aside from the physical and emotional violence and #everydaysexism faced by women of all nationalities, cultures, colours, religions and socio-economic backgrounds everyday.
Talented and cheeky
Nope, I am talking about a multi-award winning, epicly talented person being in the spotlight for losing weight and what that means for females in general.
Adele was 2008’s breath of fresh air. I heard her before I saw her. She was all over the radio (which is my favourite medium) and I didn’t really ‘see’ her until her amazing Live at the Royal Albert Hall Show in 2011 (which still moves me to tears).
When I did see Adele, I wasn’t immune to the fact she was a larger girl, but this was secondary to her immaculate voice and cheeky, sweary attitude. She was self depreciating, really spoke to the audience and wasn’t afraid to fail – restarting a song she wasn’t altogether happy with.
This was what drew me to her and encouraged me to bookmark her as one of my favourite singers of all time. Up there with Amy Winehouse, Joni Mitchell and Nina Simone.
In following her (not literally – I’m not a super fan or stalker), I delved into the constant media attention and found that it focused on her physical being.
Since the dawn of time
Like Christina Hendricks (red headed Mad Men lead) before her, she got a lovely pat on the head from the media for championing large, more curvy females. Which was perplexing.
Laid bare was the inextricable link between her talent and personality to her physical being – something females wrestle with on a regular basis, regardless of notoriety, income or social status.
The media meltdown over her seven stone weight loss ‘transformation’ is clearly because she is in the public eye, but it should raise more fundamental questions about perceptions of perfection and unobtainable beauty ideals.
Let’s face it, social beauty constructs have marred the female lived experience since the dawn of time.
As has ‘negging‘.
Is our worth STILL tied to our bodies?
Adele is news, but the famously private songstress has been very limited in blabbing or boasting about losing weight. Cue a raft of talking heads and so-called experts to fill in the blanks.
Doctors, nutritionists and fashion and all round know-it-alls – have contributed to asking: WHAT IT ALL MEANS.
Simply put, the media is doing what it always does – fuelling an age-old objectification of women, just to let us all know our bodies aren’t really our own.
That our worth remains tied to our physical being, that we are not who we are and what we’ve achieved, but what we look like – and even those who obtain impossible goals of so-called beauty (thigh gap, perfect skin, no wrinkles, size zero etc.) are still in the firing line.
Can’t win the battle, what about the war?
We are damned if we do and damned if we don’t. It’s an impossible battle. Perhaps it’s not particularly useful (and probably rather irritating) that I have questions, not answers.
But we should ask ourselves questions.
Is the media responding to our desire for this type of ‘news’ or creating it to reap the rewards? After all, negging women has for a long time been the cornerstone of the fashion and beauty industries. It’s amplified and perpetuated by social and traditional media and these industries are not female-free.
In fact, women are in positions of power in these sectors, so simply blaming men is not productive. See Marie Claire editor, Sally Holmes reaction to Megan Markle’s image (shock horror) of a single grey hair, if you want to understand just how tricky the balancing act between support, praise, patronising and idolising. The writer got serious shade which may indicate that things are changing.
Maybe the media does need a time out – and collectively, we should be the ones to put it there.
Am I right, wrong or somewhere in the middle?
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