Adele Responds To Accusations Of Cultural Appropriation

“If I take it down, it’s me acting like it never happened. And it did. I totally get why people felt like it was appropriating.”

Posted on October 8, 2021, at 7:40 a.m. ET

Adele made history on Thursday, becoming the first person to simultaneously appear on the cover of both US and British Vogue.

Steven Meisel / British Vogue

The profiles marked Adele’s first interview in five years, and it seemed as if no stone was left unturned as she discussed everything, from her divorce and weight loss, to dating and new music in the candid style she’s known and loved for.

Alasdair McLellan / Vogue

And the 33-year-old wasn’t shy about facing difficult subjects, which included the backlash she received after posting a picture celebrating Notting Hill Carnival in August last year.

The picture in question saw the singer’s hair styled in Bantu knots while she wore a Jamaican flag bikini.

At the time, Adele faced criticism for cultural appropriation, with many calling her out in the comments of the post.

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“This hair is totally unnecessary,” one person wrote. “Stop appropriating Black culture. Bantu knots are not for you.”

“I’m a Jamaican and I DO NOT appreciate this,” another wrote. “Like, okay bikini top and carnival feathers, regalia, yes. The hair went too far for me.”

However, despite the criticism, many were surprised when the picture remained on Adele’s Instagram instead of being swiftly deleted after the backlash.

“I could see comments being like, ‘The nerve to not take it down,’ which I totally get,” she told British Vogue. “But if I take it down, it’s me acting like it never happened. And it did. I totally get why people felt like it was appropriating.”

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Explaining her thought process behind the picture, Adele told the publication that she’d been trying to “celebrate the Jamaican culture” but hadn’t “read the fucking room.”

“If you don’t go dressed to celebrate the Jamaican culture — and in so many ways we’re so entwined in that part of London — then it’s a little bit like, ‘What you coming for, then?'” she said. “I didn’t read the fucking room.”

In her own words, karma was only around the corner anyway, as she finished: “I was wearing a hairstyle that is actually to protect Afro hair. Ruined mine, obviously.”

In the American Vogue interview, Adele opened up about a different criticism altogether, this one more personal – the debate surrounding her body and weight loss journey.

In early 2020, the singer’s apparent transformation was a trending topic on social media after she reportedly told a fan that she’d lost 100 pounds. 

Then, in May of that year, she reappeared on Instagram for the first time since Christmas, posting a picture of herself to celebrate her birthday. The image quickly sent the internet into a frenzy as everybody gave their opinion on how she looked, and then gave opinions on those opinions too. 

What was actually a subject Adele hadn’t publicly discussed herself became a debate, with some calling the singer a “sell-out” for losing weight in the first place.

“My body’s been objectified my entire career,” Adele told US Vogue. “It’s not just now. I understand why it’s a shock. I understand why some women especially were hurt. Visually I represented a lot of women. But I’m still the same person.”

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Opening up about the “worst thing” of the debate, she added: “The most brutal conversations were being had by other women about my body. I was very fucking disappointed with that. That hurt my feelings.”

Far from being a sell-out, Adele actually revealed that she’d started working out to cope with her anxiety, explaining that it was “never about losing weight” in the first place.

“Working out, I would just feel better,” she said in the British Vogue interview. “It was never about losing weight, it was always about becoming strong and giving myself as much time every day without my phone.”

“I needed to get addicted to something to get my mind right,” she continued. “It could have been knitting, but it wasn’t. People are shocked because I didn’t share my ‘journey’. They’re used to people documenting everything on Instagram, and most people in my position would get a big deal with a diet brand. I couldn’t give a flying fuck.”

She finished: “I did it for myself and not anyone else. So why would I ever share it? I don’t find it fascinating. It’s my body.”

You can read Adele’s full interview with British Vogue here, and her interview with US Vogue here.