I couldn’t help but notice that Adele’s song “Rolling in the Deep” has been getting very frequent play on many radio stations. If I happen to be driving in my car, even for a short errand, I am almost certain to hear the song at least once on any radio station that I happen to turn to. And for good reason: it’s a great piece of popular music, much different than what I expect to hear on the top 40 alongside the current female pop royalty like Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, and, of course, Britney Spears.
However, Adele’s soulful music isn’t the only thing that sets her apart from the rest of the more conventional (or even less conventional) party music artists. Let’s face it: whether we like it or not, popular music really isn’t only about the music itself anymore. Fashion, style, and appearance are part of the act in their own right. The other artists I mentioned created quite a stir about their unique appearances in the early stages of their rise to fame—Lady Gaga for the balls to walk around in a leotard regularly, among other things, Katy Perry for her bright and unexpected fashion choices, Ke$ha for her trashy-glittery-chic wardrobe, and Britney Spears for wearing snakes, nothing, and Catholic school uniforms. Adele is no different—she, too has created her own appearance-related buzz.
Adele has chosen to ignore the pressure to be thin and allow her body to become the weight that it naturally would go to without any dieting. She dresses conservatively and does not bare her body to sell records. And much like the other artists who make unconventional choices about their appearances, her choices have caused controversy, mainly over her weight. Some people love that she has chosen to allow her body to be as it is, while others try and Photoshop her (such as what occurred in Vogue) to make her appear thinner.
In an article in Rolling Stone, Adele said: “My life is full of drama and I won’t have time to worry about something as petty as what I look like,” “I don’t like going to the gym. I like eating fine foods and drinking nice wine. Even if I had a really good figure, I don’t think I’d get my tits and ass out for no one,” and “But that’s not what my music is about. I don’t make music for eyes. I make music for ears.”
Now, there is a lot of meaning in these sentences. While they are very simple statements, I believe that they echo the plight of many people in America who struggle with their weight, myself included. Adele seems to be at peace with her appearance, which I commend her for, yet there are so many people in America who cite having stressful lives, disdain for the gym, and a penchant for high-calorie food and drink as reasons why they cannot lose weight. This could arguably make it easier for her fans to relate to her.
It is precisely that relatability which makes me struggle with the many messages that she is sending. On one hand, I absolutely love that she is so dedicated to keeping what she does strictly about the art of the music and I love that she is unwilling to show her body just to sell her craft. I love that she is comfortable as she is. What I do not love is that it appears she is resigning herself to the idea that it is acceptable to be overtaken by vices and life “drama,” and that it is OK to allow this to manifest itself in the form of appearance.
As a public figure, Adele has the ability to influence many decisions that people make, perhaps more than she even realizes and more than the public even realizes, yet she is setting a questionable example by choosing to spurn physical activity and healthier food choices simply because she cannot see the benefits beyond appearance and simply because she does not like them. In essence, she is flat-out admitting that she does not feel like caring for her health and well-being.
In saying that she is choosing to make music for the ears and not the eyes, she is admitting to being out of touch with the sad fact that her personal choices are noted by the public, whether she wants them to be noticed or not. She is choosing to disregard the fact that part of fame in today’s society is one’s status as a role model to one’s more impressionable fans. This behavior, to me, is verging on irresponsible.
I like Adele and her music, but I would personally find it more admirable to know that she was a plus-sized celebrity making a conscious effort to lead a healthier lifestyle and choosing to be at a heavier weight—instead, I am left with mixed feelings that she is content with just giving up and enabling the weight to choose her.