From Kim Kardashian to Meghan Fox, to Adele, flourishing female celebrity divorcees have generated a ‘chicness’ around the notion of divorce – reframing it as an opportunity for reinvention rather than desperation.
In an effort to escape stories of new Coronavirus strains, lockdowns and the general impending doom that has saturated the news cycle – many became drawn to the sugary celebrity gossip that 2021 had to offer. At the forefront of this, has been the narrative of celebrity divorce and the reinvention of female divorcees in the eyes of the public.
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) February 20, 2021
Every year brings the downfall of several A-list relationships, but during 2021, it seemed there had been more celebrity couples at the clutches of divorce than ever. Household names like Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, Bill and Melinda Gates, Elon Musk and Grimes, Meghan Fox, Kourtney Kardashian, Jason Sudeikis and Olivia Wilde, and of course Adele, all flourishing in the media limelight in the wake of their divorces.
However, it seems as though celebrities aren’t the only ones who went down the divorce route in 2021 – the stress of the pandemic and the clutches of lockdown presumably an influencing factor. Statistics have demonstrated that there was a 31% decrease in Australian marriages in 2020, and a 314% increase in couples thinking about separating due to lockdown – with another 4.1% increase in Australian divorce rates for 2021.
Although the acrimonious nature of divorce is not something to be wholly celebrated, with the saddening act of separating a family and dismantling a marriage remaining a tumultuous process, the rise of divorce – namely celebrity divorce – has begun to normalise the fact that separation can ultimately be a healthy thing, reframing the narrative from one of desperation and pity – particularly for women – to an opportunity for healing, growth, and reinvention.
This “Big Divorce Energy” made a resurgence in 2021, due to the myriad of celebrities who have faced the public in the months after a separation with an air of self-assurance, confidence, happiness, and sometimes even a Princess Diana-esque revenge outfit.
Princess Diana’s iconic black dress pic.twitter.com/mQE3sheM19
— 𝓂𝑜𝓃𝒶 𝓁𝒾𝓈𝒶 (@lavieimiitelart) May 28, 2019
The first of these celebs who have encapsulated “big divorce energy” has been pop-culture icon Kim Kardashian, who, after filing for divorce in February 2021, took to her trademark stomping ground, Instagram, with a new glow of confidence and contentment. Being her third divorce after previous separations from Kris Humphries in 2013, and Damon Thomas in 2003, Kim has demonstrated that she isn’t fazed by the sense of shame that traditionally ensconces divorce – let alone multiple divorces – but rather embraces the authority, self-assurance, and peace that it can ultimately bring.
Moreover, her rumoured new romance with comedian, SNL star and ‘serial boyfriend’ Pete Davidson – described as the epitome of a “manic pixie dream boyfriend” – further symbolises Kim’s desire for contentment, freshness and, most importantly, fun in her post-divorce era.
Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson Are 'Really Cuddly and Affectionate with Each Other': Source https://t.co/v5G26lRvUA
— People (@people) December 28, 2021
Another female celebrity that has thrived in the wake of divorce, is Meghan Fox. Although being separated from her former husband Brian Austin Green since 2019, she officially filed for divorce in November 2020. However, 2021 was when the public actually began to notice Fox’s “big divorce energy”, further exacerbated by the media attention on her impassioned relationship with rapper Machine Gun Kelly – or rather, her “twin flame” as she claims. Not only does Fox seem happier in her post-divorce whirlwind relationship with Kelly, but the relationship plays into this subversion of the divorce narrative that has placed many famous men in a position stereotypically reserved for women – seeing their partners move on with someone younger post-divorce in a very public way.
— News24 Arts and Entertainment (@News24Arts) October 13, 2021
As we saw with Kardashian and Davidson and Fox and Kelly, there have been an increasing number of female celebrities who have sprung out of divorces into the arms of a younger man. Some of these include Kourtney Kardashian, who after her on-and-off marriage with Scott Disick, has settled down into a very public, very passionate relationship and engagement with Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, and Olivia Wilde, who following her divorce from Jason Sudekis has been touring the USA with her new boyfriend Harry Styles. Whether these pairings are indeed rebounds, or true love, it is refreshing for many to see so many high-profile women owning their post-divorce relationship choices with pride, showing that after the draining process of divorce – a bit of youthful happiness and pleasure is still a valid and supported option.
— Lorraine Jo King (@lahlahbean) December 31, 2021
Finally, another female divorcee that has – by the judgement of the public eye – thrived in 2021, is Adele. After going somewhat underground since her album 25, society re-entered an Adele renaissance in the lead up to the release of her 30, her most recent album, that was released on November 19th, 2021. After the public termination of her two-year marriage to producer Simon Konecki, 30 reflects on Adele’s experience during and post-divorce, and illustrates how it sparked a journey of self-discovery.
In her words, the album is completely centric on the ins and outs of “Divorce, babe, divorce.” By choosing to utilise her divorce as the overarching theme for the album, paired with Adele’s significant pop-cultural influence, the pop star aided in both normalising divorce at a younger age, and showing that despite the initial anxiety and sadness associated with the legal separation, it can ultimately be a chance to move forward, find yourself and achieve personal contentment.
This widespread support and admiration for these divorcees who show that happiness, not loneliness, can be the outcome of a relationship breakdown, exemplifies that divorce doesn’t have to be a sad account of a woman’s life falling to shambles. In our increasingly modern era where the concepts of relationships, marriage and monogamy are ever evolving, it is refreshing and potentially helpful to see that maybe divorce isn’t the patriarchal stereotype it has always been framed to be.