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Watch Your (Weight) Mouth: The Media’s Response to Weight Loss/Gain

Award-Winning Actor Chadwick Boseman, best known for his iconic role as Marvel’s Black Panther, has sadly passed away from colon cancer on August 28th, 2020. As we look at the impact Boseman had on millions of black boys and girls throughout the country, it is easy for us to honor his life and legacy. 


However, it won’t be easy to overlook the ridicule that he experienced online and in the media over the past few years. During his battle, a four-year fight with cancer, Chadwick was found at the rear end of jokes due to his appearance on media platforms like Instagram and Twitter. Now that it is known that the cause of his weight loss is because of the chemo treatments he received, the jokes and comments about his weight are shallow takes and frankly, none of the internet’s business. 


Another example of inappropriate commentary on a celebrity’s weight would be Adele. In this instance, Adele’s weight loss was viewed in a positive light as opposed to Chadwick who was deemed “sickly” or “tired”. On Adele’s 32 birthday she posted pictures on Instagram that showed her notable weight loss, and even though she did not mention it, her “new body” became a trending topic soon after. Fans and news outlets praised and congratulated Adele for her weight loss, with comments on her “new look” and for “getting healthy”. It is unkind and biased to assume that someone is unhealthy because their weight is not “the norm” or doesn’t fall in line with society’s beauty standards. I can not speak for Adele but I know that many people would find it uncomfortable for the internet to be giving their unwanted opinions on their bodies. 


It is harmful to speak on someone’s situation without a full context. Without proper knowledge, a comment on someone’s weight can be unintentionally damaging. Chadwick’s choice to withhold the details about his cancer was his privacy and people should respect that, but there’s always going to be unwarranted comments and in his situation, there was quite a lot. As people on the internet look in through small windows that celebrities and people, in general, using social media give us, we often think we have the full picture but that is almost always not the case. For all we know, a celebrity could have an unannounced physical or mental health condition that contributes to their weight gain or loss. 


Neither Chadwick nor Adele chose to speak out on their weight loss at the time, and the only reason we know of Chadwick’s is because of his death. Weight loss or gain can be a good thing, but overall it is a personal matter. At the end of the day, it is best to keep quiet on issues we know little to nothing about and consider others' feelings before commenting on their life.


Serenity Smith

Hampton U '24

Hi!! I'm a second year student at Hampton University majoring in psychology with a premedical concentration from Prince George’s County, Maryland. I'm passionate about mental health and writing. My most creative outlet is writing poetry, but I have a newfound love of writing articles about topics important to me.
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