No matter how great things are going, there's always going to be someone out there willing to take you down a peg. For singer Adele, who's enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame, topping the British charts for a record-breaking amount of time, and stepping into shoes vacated by the late Amy Winehouse to assert herself as the preeminent sultry solo singer of record. Yet with all the fame, popularity and success, it can't stop others from raining on her parade, and when Chanel's creative director Karl Lagerfeld told Metro that Adele is "little too fat, but she has a beautiful face and a divine voice," he was doing just that.
Despite the tacked-on compliment of her voice, Lagerfeld demonstrated the fundamental disconnect between the world of fashion and the world of music. In fashion, the average size of models has shrunk more and more over the years, leaving us with an industry that has a highly skewed sense of what is "fat" and what is "skinny." Within the music industry, historically it's mattered much less what the size of your waistband is as long as you can sing on key and inspire people to buy your albums.
Of course being as close to your ideal weight as possible is the smart choice for your personal health and well-being. If asked honestly, Adele herself might even speak to wishing to be a smaller size, but the implication that Lagerfeld made is that Adele's weight somehow makes her less of a star. Perhaps what the Chanel executive really needs though is a quick lesson on just what weight means to popular music.
Maybe someone should point Karl in the direction of Aretha Franklin? If there is one singer who embodies power, soul and most importantly "respect" it's Ms. Aretha. Long considered one of the classiest, sexiest and talented singers, Franklin was on the ground floor of the R&B sound that came out of Detroit and helped establish Motown as a cultural phenomenon. In Aretha's case, size really does not matter; the world would her skinny or with a bit more weight behind her.
Of course then there was Mama Cass Elliot, who was a key factor in the success of "California Dreamin'" band The Mamas & The Papas. Her contribution to group's stunning harmonics could not be understated. If it's something a little more vintage you're looking for, there's always Ella Fitzgerald, who many point to as being one of the first female super star singers, and she was definitely not a Skinny Minnie.
Essentially the point that Mr. Lagerfeld seems to have missed is that at least in terms of popular musicians, the public is willing to accept a more round and shapely star, especially if they've got the goods. Adele's continued success and popularity is proof that no one is looking at her dress size before they purchase her records, no matter how big or small she is.
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- Karl Lagerfeld