My Not So Typical, “Before and After” Photo in honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness (NEDA) Week. If you’ve read my posts before, you know that I am all about being honest, vulnerable, and REAL life. I believe that the world needs more honesty, more truth, and more real people. I fight to break down the mental health illness stigma and here, I must advocate for myself, others, and be really real about eating disorders.
First, I want to talk about the typical, “before and after” photo.
I don’t believe in them.
We are constantly bombarded with them on social media and any type of ads for weight loss/dieting programs. I get the intention is to show your hard work and what you have accomplished–good for you! I get that you are proud of your body now and that maybe you weren’t before. I get that you feel better in your body now and can keep up with your kids/life better now. I get that and I’m genuinely happy for you.
I’m even more happy for you if you were able to do that without cutting out “harmful carbs” or “harmful fats” or “the dreaded sugar and flour”, etc. that will most likely bring the weight right back, plus more, once you stop dieting and/or the diet plateaus. I’m ecstatic for you if with this process, you learned how to eat healthy, listen to your body, to take care of it, and to exercise (I like to call it, movement).
The harsh reality is that most people, with this before and after photo process, haven’t learned how to eat healthy, listen to their body, take care of their body, and to enjoy movement.
So… yes, maybe your intentions with the before and after photo are good. Maybe your intentions are to sell your weight loss program to make money. Maybe your intentions are to help others feel good, too. Maybe your intentions are to brag or show off or prove to the internet (and that ex boyfriend) that you did it– and you’re freaking hot now.
Who knows! But, regardless of the intention…
Let’s talk about how typical Before and After photos make most kids, teens, and adults feel, despite the intention behind them.
They create the idea that the “before” picture is bad and that the “after” picture is good.
The before picture creates shame and comparison, if you look like someone’s “before”.
The after picture creates shame and comparison, if you don’t look like someone’s “after” (what todays society says is beautiful), you have a lot of work to do.
If you don’t look like someone’s “after”, you may be bombarded with any (or all) of the following thoughts:
- What’s wrong with me?
- Why can’t I look like that?
- Why is everyone else able to get toned and to be thin?
- If I could just get skinny, I could be happy.
- I hate my body. I hate myself.
- *Beat yourself up here.*
- I’ll start the diet today.
- I’ll stop eating today. Tonight, will be my last meal for a while.
- *Insert any negative thought about yourself and your body here.*
- *Insert any negative and life threatening idea to get skinny here. *
Second, let’s talk about My Not So Typical, “Before and After” Photo
The girl in the “before” picture:
- She was 18 and graduating high school.
- She had been told countless times, throughout her whole life and in many different ways, that she had the “perfect” tiny little body.
- She was genuinely happy, despite all of life’s trails.
- She fought disordered eating thoughts every day. They were easier to fight at that time because she was so thin.
- She had not restricted food intake since she was 12 and planned to never do that again. Intuitive Eating helped her stay on course and kept her from restricting.
- She thought her thighs were huge and hated the tiny bit of fat on her sides (“love handles”, she called them).
- She was nervous about what would happen if she ever gained weight.
- She wondered what would happen to her self love, when she gained weight.
- On some level, she knew that she didn’t fully love herself because that self love would crumble if she were ever something more than 125 lbs and a size 2.
- She never stepped on the scale (only at the doctor’s office) and doesn’t own one.
- She took typical “before” pictures, a few different times, in order to compare with her “after” body in a few months and track her “progress”
The girl in the “after” picture:
- Is 25 and had 2 babies in 2 years.
- She has struggled since being 20 weeks pregnant with her first, with the weight gain and body changes that pregnancy and giving birth bring.
- She has struggled to workout for the right reasons and actually, had to stop herself from working out for 6 months, until she was in a healthy mindset again.
- She fights disordered eating thoughts every day. They have been harder to fight because she isn’t “thin”.
- Her self love has been tested, just like she predicted it would be as an adolescent.
- She has not restricted food intake since age 12, although she has been very tempted to do so (more than ever before) over the past 3 years.
- She never steps on the scale (only at the doctor’s office) and doesn’t own one.
- She is a great momma, with adorable baby boys, that she loves.
P.S. I have been extremely grateful to find a store that sells adorable clothes that fit me well and make me feel comfortable. This is not an easy task these days! Everyday Eden Boutique believes in everything that I believe in about our bodies. They have a “shop by body type” section that I loveeee. Everyone’s bodies are different, unique, and beautiful and that needs to be celebrated! Thank you, Everyday Eden Boutique, for being a good change in the world that we all so desperately need.
I’m your typical “before” photo and I have more authentic self love than I ever have before.
I have stomach rolls and real love handles now. I have LOTS stretch marks from just below my bra line down to my knees.
I’m a size M or L and 8/10 right now and that’s perfectly okay.
I don’t squeeze myself into clothes anymore for the size or number– I only buy clothes that feel comfortable and fit my body well.
I don’t keep old clothes to “measure” myself and to make myself fit into them later.
I’m not 125 lbs and I don’t have to be.
My body loves movement and I exercise for the right reasons. My body feels best when it has moved and stretched at least 4-6 times a week.
I listen to my body. I eat when I’m hungry and I stop eating/don’t eat when I’m full.
I know exactly what type of food my body needs and when and I feed it what it asks for. My body loves and appreciates that and my body deserves it.
I love myself regardless of the number on the scale and size of clothes and that, my friends, is true self love.
My Not So Typical, “Before and After” Photo represents self love, not body comparison.
I didn’t fully love myself in the “before” picture. I do now (even with the weight gain and body changes).
And that, is a real win in my book. THAT is something to be celebrated and to be proud of.
Let’s work towards celebrating YOU and loving YOU, no matter your shape or size!
Genuinely loving you does not depend on:
- Outward appearance.
- Number on a scale.
- Size of clothing.
- Weight loss.
- Muscle tone.
- Body fat percentage.
Let’s work towards moving away from changing our outward appearance as the answer for happiness and self love (it doesn’t bring true happiness and self love anyway).
How do I feel? How do I want to feel? What does my body want and need? How can I better take care of my body? What do I need to change in order to have true self love? What do I need to change in my life in order to have true happiness?
Let’s move towards making healthy changes based on those questions, and those questions alone.
Loved My Not So Typical, “Before and After” Photo Post? Find more of our Honesty Hour posts below:
- Honesty Hour: Healthy Weight Loss
- Honesty Hour: “Ex-Family”
- Honesty Hour: Real Body Love, Postpartum
- Honesty Hour: Learn & Grow
- Honesty Hour: Lifestyle Change
- Honesty Hour: Divorce
- Honesty Hour: Spring-time Fresh Start
- Honesty Hour: Words