Why does weight gain and weight loss still make headlines?

Even in 2020, the year of the Australian bush fires, Coronavirus, police brutality against black men and women including the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Black Lives Matter, Biden’s win, Trump’s incapacity to concede, scrambling together a Brexit deal, why are celebrities weight loss and gain still being given a headline? 

And more importantly why is slimness and weight loss still glorified and weight gain shamed?

Adele’s weight loss sparked countless headlines about how beautiful she looked with a few “she’s too thin” headlines too, because, well, nobody’s ever happy. Yet, none of the articles commented on her 15 grammys, that she’s working on a new album (2021 is looking a whole lot better already eh?) that she’s a mother, or it’s a global pandemic. How do you forget about all of that?

It’s not as though her weight loss reflects any of her personal or professional achievements, it doesn’t tell us anything about her except she’s smaller. That’s not groundbreaking news.

In an interview Princess Diana said that her bulimia wasn’t the reason her marriage broke down, it was a symptom of her marriage. Yes, I have just watched Season 4 of The Crown and subsequently every Diana documentary on Netflix – god, she was such an exceptional woman. 

My point being, she’s spot on: Weight loss and weight gain (and eating disorders) can sometimes be a physical cue to something else going on in someone’s life, but you cannot assume from how they look that it’s an improvement or a detriment that their size has changed.  

For instance, if you gain weight as you’re recovering from anorexia that’s incredibly positive. Equally, you may have gained weight just as your circumstances changed, or for no reason at all.

You might have lost weight due to mental illness, stress or an eating disorder, or you might have just started a new form of exercise that you adore. It’s different for every person, every time.

I’ve gained weight before as I was incredibly unhappy. Yet, I’ve gained weight this year because I’ve moved less. I’ve lost weight before by severely restricting myself and over exercising. It also happened when I started spinning. It’s been completely different each time, but an outsider can’t see that from how I look. People just see the size you are and make assumptions.

Equally, if you are recovering from an eating disorder or have overcome one and gained or lost weight as a result, that deserves a headline (imo – if you want one of course). You deserve to be proud of the work you’ve done and what you’ve overcome. Read more about Hope Virgo’s recovery here.

But weight again is the symptom of what’s going on, rather than the subject and it’s your choice, your story and your voice as opposed to an outsider making a judgement on your body.

The baffling thing is, we all know this right?

The fact is if someone’s size gives you absolutely no insight into who they are as a person or how they’re feeling, so don’t assume that it does. 

Also, not to point out the obvious, but gaining and losing weight is inevitable. Our bodies, circumstances, mental and physical health are always changing, for all of us. So it is remarkable that weight gain or loss gets a headline, when it’s something that fluctuates daily. 

We need to disassociate someone being well or unwell from how they look, in every physical sense. Don’t take it as face value.

I hope that one day weight won’t be commented on at all, it won’t be given a headline, associated with worth or health or glorified or shamed. Ah… a girl can dream right?

Does a person’s change in size deserve a headline?

Read more about body image here.

Share this post?

Leave a Comment

  • Hannah says:

    Weight gain and weight loss can mean very different things for different people. For those who are recovering from an eating disorder or those who have been recently discharged from hospital, weight gain can be a good thing as it is a symbol of recovery. For those who are overweight and suffering from health conditions as a result, weight loss can be a good thing as it is a symbol of better health. But weight loss and weight gain can also be a symbol of poor physical & mental health, which is not a good thing. Especially with celebrities who’s inner thoughts are not known to the public, we should not be celebrating weight loss or gain unless we understand the reasoning behind it. xx

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.