‘I don’t want my daughter being influenced by Adele’s weight loss’
I wasted so much time worrying about my weight in my twenties. When I think about all the energy and money I spent trying to be thinner and better and different, I want to cry.
I want a refund on it all.
I was a healthy young woman with an incredible future ahead of her. Instead, I spent majority of those 10 years feeling as though I wasn’t good enough.
There’s nothing wrong with making healthy food choices and and exercising, but the self-loathing and self-hatred that tends to come with it cast a pall over my entire existence.
The most influential celebrity diet of my twenties was most definitely Jennifer Aniston’s Atkin’s Diet.
At the time, Aniston was starring in hit TV series Friends, and she happily explained that she lost weight using the popular low-carb diet. Carbs became the devil, and every time I took a bite of them, I became wrong and weak.
Then I started having kids.
“The self-loathing and self-hatred cast a pall over my entire existence.”
My thirties were spent pregnant and raising babies so I had less time to stress about my fluctuating weight, although I still managed to find the time, in between nappy changes.
I was told breastfeeding helps burn calories and aids in weight loss.
Not for me.
Breastfeeding burns a lot of calories alright, but that left me feeling starving hungry. I would devour the contents of our fridge twice a day.
I didn’t lose the baby weight until I stopped breastfeeding, and even then it took around as long as I had been pregnant for and as a mother of little ones, extreme dieting was out of the question.
I had no choice but to eat well, exercise and relish every slice of birthday cake at my kid’s birthday parties.
Fun times, not fraught at all. Well, a little fraught, but not as bad as pre-mum me.
Now I’m in my forties, and I have never felt better about myself. I don’t know when or why it happened, but I just stopped caring as much.
The number on a scale no longer decide my mood for the day, and a dress that is a little snug doesn’t send me into a shame spiral.
Which is why I worry so much every time I see an article about singer Adele’s dramatic weight loss. I know exactly how 20-something Jo would have reacted to reading an article like that.
I would have poured over every word, examined photos of her, read all the details of how she did it and tried to follow whatever regimen she had.
Maybe I would have lost a few kilos, or maybe not. When, inevitably the celebrity diet of the week failed to ‘work’, I would have blamed myself for being weak, completely discounting the fact that 95 percent of diets don’t work.
For those who do lose weight, statistically most will regain the weight, and then some. The diet industry, which is worth over $648 billion, makes money from that failure, and we continue to blame ourselves for failing to deprive ourselves of food.
There are young women and girls looking at Adele, wishing they could lose weight as easily as she seems to have lost weight.
Twenty-something Jo wishes that too.
Thirty-something Jo is too busy raising three kids to bother obsessing about celebrity diets.
Forty-something Jo knows all to well that Adele’s weight loss most likely didn’t result from diet and exercise alone, but perhaps also from the emotional trauma of going through the process of divorcing her husband Simon Konecki.
And it wasn’t quick or easy for her to lose it either. It just appears that way.
I’m a mum now, and my of children are all aware body image issues.
Philip, 15, is desperately awaiting puberty so he can grow taller. Giovanni, 12, worries that he is too big.
Caterina, 10, talks about body image issues as though she understands how not to be drawn into the silliness of it all, but there’s something about the way she talks about it that worries me.
Children spend so much time online, so it’s not a matter of me just keeping her away from magazines that glorify weight loss.
I know I can’t stop her seeing stories about Adele and absorbing how they are being written, as though Adele is a better person now that she has lost weight.
So I have no choice but to speak with her openly and honestly about it.
I told her that Adele may maintain her weight loss, or put it all back on and them some.
But her weight fluctuations don’t affect her worth.
She is a healthy and successful mother-of-one, regardless of what she weighs.
I told her we should never let her choices influence how we look after our own health.
Then I told her that her body will change and grow and fluctuate, and that’s normal. She has to trust her body know what it is doing, and includes her hunger signals.
And her looks are only one part of her, and not even the most interesting part of her.
I have told my daughter that her weight and looks aren’t her worth.
I hope that one day she not only understands that, but really truly believes it.
If you or someone you know is in need of support due to body image issues, contact the Butterfly Foundation on 1800 33 4673.