Yes, CL put on weight. A lot of weight. While en route to Singapore to perform at MTV’s Hyperplay music festival on Aug 3, the K-pop idol was snapped at Incheon International Airport looking like she had put on almost 10kg — a blasphemy by K-pop standards where toothpick-thin idols are the norm. Unsurprisingly, the photos quickly went viral.

“CL, is that you?”, “CL has ballooned to size XXL!” screamed headlines around the world. All the buzz surrounding CL’s shocking (not to mention, sudden) weight gain is understandable: After all, we’re talking about a singer once famed and envied for her sexy, desirable curves and “perfect bod”. And so the body-shaming began. Netizens claimed that the Queen of K-pop is now “unrecognisable” with her “chubby middle-aged-woman-like body”. Others went as far as to say that the singer is pregnant. 

Then, there were yet others who were concerned that the singer was battling health issues, or stress binge-eating due to her ongoing strife with her Korean agency, YG Entertainment. Here’s a little bit of the backstory: Despite 2NE1’s disbandment in 2016, CL still received support from YG to further her career in America. But when CL’s career in the US did not take off as expected, she was allegedly side-lined by her company for other more popular, younger idols. CL eventually had to YOLO it solo.

Things finally came to a head last month when CL’s agency boss Yang Hyun Suk posted a screenshot of a news article about SECHSKIES’ Eun Ji Won on his Instagram, and wrote that they needed to start recording the boyband’s new album soon. CL commented on his post, writing, “Boss, what about me? #PleaseReplyToMyTexts,” seeming to confirm rumours that the former YG princess had fallen out of favour. CL had also resorted to leaking her own music to her fans as YG hadn’t let her release a new album for the past four years. After CL’s public confrontation with her boss, #JusticeForCL began trending on social media in South Korea. 

But a recent report clarified that the singer’s weight gain was due to her recent move to America to work on her English album. It was said that she wasn’t able to exercise as often as she adapted to her new life there. The same report also dismissed speculations about bad blood between CL and YG as the former had recently met with the agency’s boss to discuss her future activities. 

But we digress. With all the controversy surrounding CL turning XXL, we wonder if that was why her management cancelled all fringe events surrounding her Aug 4 gig here at E-sports-cum-music event, Hyperplay — including a press con and a meet-and-greet sesh — citing that the singer was “unwell”. 

No matter what, from the very moment CL burst onto stage at the Indoor Stadium, her newfound curves took centerstage. But should a chunkier CL be of concern? Just like other superstars such as A-Mei, Mariah Carey and most recently, Taylor Swift have proven, weight is but a number. Right? Especially when Asia’s Baddest Female still brought her A-game, delivering pitch-perfect pop bangers topped with entertaining theatrics. Think loads of booty-shaking and head-banging as CL ripped through a power-packed 13-song setlist which included newer tunes like ‘Dirty Vibe’, ‘Lifted’ and ‘Hello B****es’, as well as 2NE1 fan favourites ‘Come Back Home’ and ‘I Am the Best’. 

Right from the get-go, the inimitable star drew us in with her magnetic charisma and continued to captivate till the end. Never mind there was no encore. There were pyrotechnics, alright, but it was really CL’s electrifying stage presence that fired up the stage. She had GZBs and Blackjacks (CL’s and 2NE1’s fanclub names respectively) swaying to the beat and screaming for more. Queen CL still looked royally hot, hot, hot. 

Despite all that, we’d be lying if we said that the 27-year-old’s weight gain hasn’t affected her stamina. At one point, CL even sat on the floor to catch her breath. “Do you guys mind if I sit and talk to you?” she asks while seated. “Oh, you do mind? Okay,” she says and gets up. Then, there was her unflattering choice of outfit — a newsprint top with a too-tight corset (how does she breathe, let alone sing in that?), layered with an oversized lab-like coat that did no favours for her. Yes, she still rocked her signature fierce swagger in spades. But we also saw a visibly self-conscious CL who kept flapping her coat over her body intermittently during her 45-minute set. Was it to cover up (the singer looked thisclose to having a wardrobe malfunction as her flimsy blouse struggled to contain her heaving chest)? Or was the darn thing getting in her way? 

Not that CL would care if she were reading this. As the singer said mid-gig, “Sometimes, people tell you how to live your life. You know, girls, you just need to roll your eyes, shake it off and walk away.” Somehow, somewhere, we imagine that’s exactly what CL is doing to her body shamers. 

Scroll through the photo gallery to see more pictures of CL at Hyperplay. 

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