After months of appearing at events with a bruised or bandaged faced, The Weeknd is finally explaining the symbolic meaning behind his look.
Fans have been concerned about The Weeknd, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, for months, as he’s been seen with bandages on his face on a number of occasions. However, it turns out that the singer’s face is just fine. Rather, he was using the bandages, bruising and prosthetics to symbolize the “absurd culture of Hollywood celebrity and people manipulating themselves for superficial reasons to please and be validated.”
When Did The Weeknd Start Having ‘Injuries’ To His Face?
The Weeknd’s bandaged face coincides with his music from the March 2020 album, After Hours. The After Hours era started with the video for “Heartless” in December 2019. The video features the singer stumbling around the streets and casinos of Las Vegas while wearing a red jacket. The Weeknd’s character indulged in a night of gambling and partying, and eventually began hallucinating. He followed this up with the video for “Blinding Lights” in January 2020.
The “Blinding Lights” video picks up where “Heartless” left off. The Weeknd is still in the same red jacket, and the video opens with blood pouring down his face. The footage then flashes back to how he obtained the bloody face as that wild Las Vegas night continued. The video flashes between footage of The Weeknd racing a car down the street, along with shots of his face bleeding out. “”Blinding Lights” is about how you want to see someone at night and you’re intoxicated and you’re driving to this person and you’re just blinded by the streetlights,” he explained to Esquire. “But nothing could stop you from trying to go see that person because you’re so lonely. I don’t ever want to promote drunk driving, but that’s what the dark undertone is.”
In March 2020, The Weeknd performed two songs on Saturday Night Live. Once again, he was wearing the red jacket and his face was bloody and bandaged. Viewers who were not aware of the “Heartless” and “Blinding Lights” video storylines were extremely worried for the singer after seeing his appearance on the show. Later that month, he had the bandage across his nose once again in his video for “In Your Eyes.” He also released an After Hours short film, where the bruised and bandaged look was also on display. The footage here was quite disturbing, as The Weeknd’s character continued to face his demons and deal with his problems.
At the Video Music Awards in August 2020, the bandage was gone, but The Weeknd’s face still looked severely beat up. Then, he debuted an even more drastic look while attending the 2020 American Music Awards in November. This time, his entire face was covered in a bandage, so it looked like he was in recovery from having major plastic surgery.
Finally, in Jan. 2021, The Weeknd released his music video for “Save Your Tears.” Now, the bandages were off, but the singer appeared to be wearing intense face prosthetics to make it look like he actually did have plastic surgery. There were scars throughout his face, while his cheeks looked sunken in and his lips looked plumper. Although this was clearly a continuation of the story, some fans interestingly thought the ‘plastic surgery’ look may have been a dig at The Weeknd’s ex, Bella Hadid (the two dated in 2015/2016 and again in 2018/2019 before breaking up). Bella has been accused of getting plastic surgery in the past, and some fans thought the Weeknd was shading her with his “Save Your Tears” look.
What Is The Story The Weeknd Is Trying To Tell?
Ahead of The Weeknd’s performance at the 2021 Super Bowl, he opened up to Variety about the saga surrounding his face. “The significance of the entire head bandages is reflecting on the absurd culture of Hollywood celebrity and people manipulating themselves for superficial reasons to please and be validated,” he explained. “It’s all a progression and we watch The Character’s storyline hit heightened levels of danger and absurdity as his tale goes on.”
For The Weeknd, this era of shocking looks was a way to show the public that appearance was not important to him. He may have been promoting his biggest album ever, but how he looked was not a priority. “I suppose you could take that being attractive isn’t important to me, but a compelling narrative is,” he admitted to Variety.
When Will The Weeknd Stop This Look/Theme?
After the “Save Your Tears” video came out, The Weeknd appeared in a promo for the Super Bowl. His face looked totally normal, proving that the video look was due to prosthetics and makeup. So far, it’s unclear whether or not this means The Weeknd will be back to his normal self at the actual game, too. Fans are now dying to know what The Weeknd’s face will look like when he takes his biggest stage ever on Feb. 7, 2021 — The Super Bowl Halftime Show. Since he’ll be playing songs from throughout his entire career, and not just After Hours, it’s unclear if he’ll continue the theme that he’s been going with for the past several months.
While speaking with Variety, The Weeknd was cryptic about why he sometimes appears in character and sometimes does not. “Why not play with the character and the artist and let those lines blur and move around?” he asked. He also didn’t give a straight response when asked if he was doing the interview in character or as himself. “I don’t know,” he said. “I’d have to ask [the character].”