Both celebrities have transformed their appearance through weight loss — and in doing so have incurred the wrath of body positivity champions, who accuse them of betraying their bigger sisters. In many ways, I can understand this.
The pair were, in their different ways, poster girls for larger women, proof that not everyone needs to have a body like Kate Moss to make it.
They brought joy to millions of women such as myself, whose lifelong inability to fit into a size 10 has always felt like something of a failure.
In particular someone like Wilson, whose on-screen talent and sheer larger-than-life personality eclipsed that of her skinnier sisters, was inspiring and uplifting, and rightly won her many fans. That said, I cannot join the chorus of disapproval — the ‘Fat Lash’ — in condemning either of them.
Actress and comedian Rebel Wilson has transformed her appearance through weight loss (left, before and right, after)
Not least because I know from personal experience how wonderful it is when, having spent so much of your life battling the bulge, you gain the upper hand.
And it’s really not about conforming or giving in to ‘fat shaming’, as some of Wilson’s critics would have you believe. It’s about being who you want to be, feeling comfortable in your own skin, and not allowing your size to rule your life.
It’s about going clothes shopping and not ending up weeping in the changing cubicle because nothing fits; or finding yourself marooned in the grim plus-size section; or kidding yourself that the sizing must be out — and then going home and consoling yourself with a family-sized bar of chocolate.
Because the truth is that inside every defiant fat girl — and I should know, I used to be one — is a normal-sized person trying to get out. Someone who doesn’t get out of breath when they climb the stairs, whose knees don’t ache from carrying all that extra weight, whose thighs don’t chafe and who doesn’t secretly dread the notion of going to the beach or having their picture taken with 27 chins.
Someone for whom getting dressed in the morning is not an eternal, depressing dance of self-loathing and recrimination, who doesn’t have to drape themselves in endless, shapeless black, but who can take pride in their appearance.
Adele’s weight loss incurred the wrath of body positivity champions, who accused her, among others, of betraying her bigger sisters (left, before and right, after)
For me, losing the few extra stone that had dogged me for the best part of two decades has been a liberation.
Because being seriously overweight is not about empowerment or body positivity at all. It’s a physical and mental straitjacket that all of us, if we are honest, are better off without.
But perhaps more importantly, as Dawn French illustrates, it’s about personal choice.
After successfully losing weight, the comedian revealed this week that she’s ‘back to being an entire barrel’ again and refuses to dislike herself for it. Women’s bodies are their own, and we have a right to choose what to do with them.
And just as we shouldn’t judge a woman for being fat, we shouldn’t judge her for wanting to be slim either.
THE CHEF WHO ONCE SAID GREED OUTWEIGHED VANITY
She was the voluptuous chef as famous for her curvaceous figure as she was for her indulgent culinary creations. But then Nigella Lawson’s size 16 curves began to diminish…
WHAT SHE SAID: ‘Any woman who says “I have never worried about my weight”, or “I have never gone on a diet” is lying.’
‘There are times when I want to lose weight. I suppose the difference is I don’t want to be as thin. Greed always outweighs my vanity.’
She was the voluptuous chef as famous for her curvaceous figure as she was for her indulgent culinary creations. But then Nigella Lawson’s size 16 curves began to diminish (left, before and right, after)
SHEDDING THE POUNDS: In 2017, the mother-of-two revealed the secret to dropping from a size 16 to a size 12 was doing yoga three times a week.
‘I have to do something I enjoy, otherwise I wouldn’t do it,’ she told Good Housekeeping.
‘The older I get, the more I realise I have got to do lots of stretching. So even if I’m not doing yoga, I make myself do lots of stretching.’
She says she balances her diet by eating healthy foods — such as kale and avocados — as well as sweet treats.
NOW: Svelte and 60, Nigella’s curves have diminished, but she revealed that a sharing-size bar of chocolate a day became her treat in lockdown.
SOAP ACTRESS WHO HAS STRICTLY TRANSFORMED
The Emmerdale star was big, beautiful and proud of it, but these days Lisa Riley, 44, is the poster girl for weight-loss transformation, having shed almost 12st in 18 months.
THEN: Only a few years ago Lisa, 44, was a dress size 28 and insisted she felt ‘absolutely wonderful’. Larger than life on TV soap Emmerdale, she went on to star in the drama series Fat Friends, and in 2012 was a defiantly sparkling vision in sequins on Strictly Come Dancing.
The Emmerdale star was big, beautiful and proud of it, but these days Lisa Riley, 44, is the poster girl for weight-loss transformation, having shed almost 12st in 18 months (left, before and right, after)
WHAT SHE SAID: Lisa has had much to say about her figure over the years. During Strictly, she said: ‘The worst thing about being big is that people don’t believe I’m happy. It’s so annoying. I’m fit, I have a wonderful life, but people think: “She’ll only be happy if she’s thin.” ’
SHEDDING THE POUNDS: It was her stint on Strictly that prompted Lisa to lose weight, saying she wanted to prove she wasn’t a ‘chunky monkey’. She dropped 4st.
The loss of her mum to cancer, aged 57, spurred her to overhaul her lifestyle, cutting calories and training ‘like a banshee.’ Giving up alcohol helped.
NOW: She went from a size 30 to size 14. ‘I love my 40s and I have never felt better,’ she said earlier this year. ‘But everyone should live the life they want to, as no one has any rights to judge a person for the way they look.’
RUMOUR HAS IT THE SINGER HAS LOST MORE THAN 7 STONE
With her distinctive voice Adele, 32, was once a proudly curvy woman; these days the voice is still big, but her figure has transformed.
THEN: The late fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld infamously said Adele was ‘a little too fat’ in 2012 when she graced the cover of Vogue. She tipped the scale at more than 16st.
WHAT SHE SAID: ‘I’ve never wanted to look like models on the covers of magazines. I represent the majority of women, and am proud of that.’ She also told an interviewer in 2015: ‘I’m going to look like this for ever. Deal with it.’
SHEDDING THE POUNDS: The Oscar-winning singer began shedding pounds — in a big way — last year, and every time we see her, she appears a svelter version of herself. She’s reported to have shed 7st, a look that is now completed by a tumbling mane of California blonde hair. How has she done it?
Various diets, such as the Sirtfood, sees slimmers fill up on plant-based foods like kale, buckwheat, green tea and turmeric, have been suggested, and she is said to be consuming only 1,000 calories a day.
But she’s also thrown herself into a vigorous exercise regime that includes regular sessions with a personal trainer and pilates classes, and she’s been enjoying a Stairmaster-like class called Rise Nation.
NOW: Estimates of how much weight she has lost range from 7st to 10st, but it’s safe to say Adele is a fraction of the woman she once was. ‘I used to cry — now I sweat,’ she quipped last year.
REBEL WHO’S A SHADOW OF HER FORMER SELF
Hollywood star Rebel Wilson, 40, may have been ‘Fat Amy’ in Pitch Perfect, but these days she’s a self-declared ‘Fit Amy’, having proclaimed 2020 ‘the year of health’. THEN: After finding global fame in the 2011 movie Bridesmaids, Rebel tipped the scales at more than 14st.
WHAT SHE SAID: Rebel has made no secret of the fact she used her size as an advantage when forging her acting career. Having developed polycystic ovary syndrome while at university, she gained weight quickly.
‘And I noticed the bigger I got, the “funnier’” I was,’ she said. ‘So I’m gonna use that to my advantage and go hard with the comedy.’
SHEDDING THE POUNDS: Rebel started this year vowing to get healthy, and has stuck to it, working out at least five times a week and avoiding sugar and junk food.
She’s reported to have followed the Mayr Method diet plan, created by the late Austrian physician Dr Franz Xaver Mayr, who believed that most people are poisoning their digestive systems. She does still enjoy the odd treat, though, but says: ‘I just do it with food only once or twice a week.’
NOW: Proudly toned, Rebel has revealed she is just 3kg short of her goal weight of 72kg (11st 3lb). Cheekily, she said this week she was getting plenty of ‘exercise’ with boyfriend Jacob Busch, 29.
Additional words: BETH HALE Picture research: CLAIRE CISOTTI