I am not a Before Photo

This week I’ve been left feeling very unpositive about my body. I’ve been feeling really self conscious, something that I have not felt for a while and I’d like to share with you why. At the beginning of this week I was scrolling through instagram and came across a before and after photo of a woman who has lost a lot of weight. She wrote what she weighed at the time of each photo and described her before photo as disgusting, she described herself as unhealthy and unhappy and how she’s so glad she no longer looks like that. In that before photo I could see myself, she was my body shape and my weight and my heart sunk. Do people see me as disgusting? Should I feel ashamed? Am I unhealthy? These are the thoughts I’ve been battling with this week and so many times I’ve almost given into my binge eating urges because if I’m that disgusting then why not just eat anyway? I eat well the majority of the time and I exercise a good few times a week so why don’t I look like that?

It’s not just people like me who can be mentally and emotionally hurt in the long run by these photos, which are becoming more and more popular to post these days. It’s the people who are in them too. You take a photo and you put it side by side with a photo of yourself which you feel is acceptable, a photo where you feel confident, beautiful and you want to show the world what you have achieved. You post it on social media and the comments start to come in “wow you look incredible” “you’ve lost so much weight” “you look beautiful! Good for you” making you subconsciously believe you didn’t look beautiful before you lost the weight and now you look acceptable to everyone around you. What if you put that weight back on? In the short run you feel great but in the long run that photo could become what you measure yourself against if you want to feel beautiful, incredible or socially acceptable. It doesn’t just have to be weight loss photos. What if you are very slim and you feel self conscious and wish you could put on some weight because you also don’t match these after photos. What if you wish you could be more toned, have bigger muscles, have those abs that everyone is complementing that persons after photo for. 

It’s not just every day people posting their before and after photos. Companies will use before and after photos to sell you diets, detox teas and various other ridiculous items to trick you into believing you have to look like the after photos to look acceptable. Most of these before and after photos posted by these companies have been photoshopped, have professional lighting, the models are sucking in and standing in a position to enhance their look. These photos are showing us an unrealistic shape which most of us could never achieve. These photos are so damaging and it scares me that my children will be exposed to these photos one day. 

I have been on a personal journey with my body since summer last year. I have gained confidence and began to love my body despite of my flaws that these before and after photos tell me I have, but every now and then I will come across something that shatters that confidence, so I would like to end this post by telling myself and everyone else who feels that a before and after photo has upset them or given their confidence a good knock back, that you are not a before photo, you are incredible. Just because these people in their after photos are beautiful doesn’t mean that you are not. If you choose to work out then work out because you love your body, not because you hate it. Embrace and love your body because loving yourself is the greatest revolution. 

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