The Week That Celebs Got So Real About Body Image

Photo: Ian West/AP Photo.
Hello. It's Adele. She was just wondering: After all these years of wishing you looked like someone else, would you like to get over it?

More specifically, she's admitting that while she struggles with her body image, she continues to return to certain questions: "There's only one of you, so why would you want to look like everyone else? Why would you want to have the same hairstyle as everybody else and have the same opinions as everybody else?"

We can think of a few reasons we might want hair as voluminous as the "Hello" singer's, but her point, made yesterday on SiriusXM during an open "Town Hall" interview, is well-taken: Body insecurities can — and should — coexist with body pride. "I do have body image problems, for sure," she admitted, "but I don't let them ruin my life at all, and there's bigger issues going on in the world than how I might feel about myself." Adele is just one of the many celebrities — including Shawn Johnson, Claire Danes, and Ariel Winter — who have recently added refreshing perspectives to the body-image conversation. Is there something in the air this month? Whatever it is, we're enjoying it.

There's only one of you, so why would you want to look like everyone else?

Adele
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In her just-released interview for Allure's December cover story, Claire Danes tackled both the expectation that women fulfill a narrow standard of beauty and the idea that "enlightened" women don't care what they look like. "I've wrestled with this my whole life, as just a person in the world and as somebody who makes images," Danes said. "It's okay to want to look and feel your best. It's okay to work at being attractive, whatever that means to you. And it's also okay to not expect to be defined by that. It's okay to be powerful in every way: to be big, to take up space. To breathe and thrive." Danes has been criticized in the past for being too thin, a testament to the impossibility of ever pleasing every onlooker with your appearance. So, Danes asks, why not please yourself?

It's okay to want to look and feel your best. It's okay to work at being attractive, whatever that means to you. And it's also okay to not expect to be defined by that.

Claire Danes
And shout-out to 23-year-old former Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson, who just opened up to Yahoo! Health about the body-shaming she faced during her stint on Dancing with the Stars — and the disordered eating patterns she adopted after retiring from gymnastics. "When I first went on [DWTS], I was 16, and I turned 17 on the show,” Johnson told Yahoo!. "Going from this strict, regimented schedule to going through puberty on national TV and gaining weight, and just being kind of a huge target for criticism, was just really difficult for me."

Johnson cycled through ineffective crash diets, such as detoxes and juice cleanses, until a bad skiing injury motivated her to start caring for her body with sustainable exercise and eating rhythms. "The most important thing that I would have wished had been ingrained in me when I was little is: Everything in moderation,” Johnson said. "It’s okay to have cookies. It’s okay to have ice cream. It’s okay to indulge — or not. Everything in moderation."

It’s okay to have cookies. It’s okay to have ice cream. It’s okay to indulge — or not.

Shawn Johnson
17-year-old Modern Family actress Ariel Winter, meanwhile, took to Instagram earlier this week to respond to commenters who believed that Winter's choice to wear a bikini in a photo meant that she should "put some clothes on" and that she was "asking for it." "I typically never give power to the mean things people bravely say behind their computer screens on the Internet," Winter wrote, "but this is for the girls who are constantly bullied, whether it be online or at school. You are not asking for anything because of what you are wearing — you are expressing yourself, and don't you ever think you deserve the negativity as the consequence to what you are wearing."
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You are not asking for anything because of what you are wearing — you are expressing yourself, and don't you ever think you deserve the negativity as the consequence to what you are wearing.

Ariel Winter
The common thread that ties these messages: Women's bodies will be scrutinized and monitored, no matter what they look like, and individual agency is the way out of that trap. Are your choices making you (not your mother, not your partner, not your Instagram followers) happy? Are you wearing and eating and doing and believing the things that bring you joy? Yes? Great. Then you, too, are okay.
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