Before and After Pics are a Violence Against the Self

serious young obese woman with colorful hair
Before and After is a lie. We are always changing and we are not inadequate until we've learned adequacy.

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I hate Before and After pictures. I hate Before and After testimonials. I hate them because they are a harm to the people who see them and also, I believe, to the people who post them.

Before and After is a lie. We are always changing and we are not inadequate until we’ve learned adequacy. At every single stage of our growth and learning we are adequate. We are deserving of love and respect.

When I see a Before and After picture my first thought is, “What are they selling?” Intentionally or not, they are selling a consumer idea about good bodies. Posting them — whether or not we’re sharing a link to a plan or a supplement or an exercise routine — we are participating in the cultural idea that we are not good enough unless we substantively change how we look. Before and After pictures are not identifying need; they create one.

Exercise might be a good idea. Learning more about how to feed and care for your body might be a good thing. But you might do those good things and your body might not change enough to create your own Before and After pictures and that’s where the lie sits. It turns deep change into something superficial. It prioritizes your dress size over your emotional and mental health.

I look at my own life and wonder which Before would I choose to create a Before and After myth? When I was young and thin and miserable? When I was older and fatter and happier? Now that I’m thinner again, happier by far but my blood pressure is higher and I have to watch my cho