The Lies “Before and After” Photos Tell

Everyone loves a good before and after photo; lots of people loved mine a few years ago. (Let’s be honest – as much as I wish it were the other way around, it’s the photo that made that post go viral, not my writing.) But, for me, before and after photos perpetuated a lie.

A “good” before and after photo is no better than an ad in a magazine with a too-thin model. A “good” before and after photo says “it is possible to achieve society’s standard of an acceptable body!”

I wonder what my before and after photo made you think…

But, here’s the thing…

Real “after” isn’t so pretty.

Real “after” isn’t always a flat stomach, smaller rear, and toned limbs.

Real “after” is loose skin and stretch marks that I will always carry with me, because I was overweight, and I can’t ever escape that.

Real “after” is persistent and painful skin infections that I get due to moisture getting trapped in the sagging skin on my abdomen.

Real “after” is looking in the mirror and constantly questioning “are those rolls of fat or just loose skin?”


(Sept 2018)



Real “after” is seeing one body when you’ve got clothes on and an entirely different one when you’re naked.

Real “after” is adjusting your own droopy skin throughout the day, trying to make it look more flattering or feel more comfortable.

Sometimes, real “after” is just as uncomfortable as “before.” Sometimes, possibly more uncomfortable.

Real “after” can mean body dysmorphia.

I wish we could take before and after photos of our minds. What might those look like?

Are “after” minds happier? More relaxed? Freer?

Are they satisfied? Full of self love? Content?

Is life easier?

Or, are they more anxious? Terrified of losing “what they worked so hard for?” Lost? Lacking in a definition of self?

How much mental time, energy, and space is maintaining that weight loss taking up? Can the “after” mind even accept that “after” is here?

And, if we could see before and after photos of minds, would we still choose to pursue weight loss?

And, if so… why?

9 thoughts on “The Lies “Before and After” Photos Tell

  1. It might have been the pictures that caught my attention but it was the brutal honesty in your writing that’s kept me looking forward to seeing your next post. Sending you peace.

  2. I agree with the first comment from Sharon! It probably was the photo that caught my attention, but it is your writing that keeps me waiting for new posts. I’m on the “after” side of weight loss. Your post today hit home in an incredible and powerful way. I struggle with ALL of this. The obsession with continued weight loss, the fear of losing all of my hard work, the depression and unhappiness of still never being what I thought things would be like if I ever lost all my weight. I’m just as unhappy now as I was “before” just for different reasons, plus some. My obsession with my weight, with food, with numbers, is very clearly unhealthy. My family doesn’t get it, but when I read your posts, I know you’re out there somewhere, and you get it. You write so beautifully the things I never say to anyone and just keep to myself.

  3. Your candor is actually a breath of fresh air. The me I am is not the me I see in my mind. I have the loose skin and stretch marks from pregnancy and being fat. I have always struggled with my weight. What I see in the mirror and how I feel about it are what keep me paralyzed. I know I need to get healthy. It’s figuring out what works best for me. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your story.

  4. I am so grateful for your honesty and willingness to be vulnerable. I am in the “before” again; after having been in the “after” and struggling so hard with all of the things that you have brought up: I wasn’t happier, I didn’t look like what I thought I would look like when I got smaller, people treated me differently and it made me angry because why couldn’t they just treat me the same? And then, people stopped saying nice things and noticing and commenting and it became almost embarrassing to look good – like it was something else people couldn’t talk about. I have been following your posts for years now and I cannot tell you how much they have meant to me and how your experience and struggle is a comfort to me. Thank you.

    • Thank you for reading and for sharing this; it helps me so much to know that others relate to what I’m talking about. I wish I knew how to let go and just BE – not a before or an after, but to just exist and be happy in the present.

  5. Oh my goodness, I so struggle with this. What drew me to your blog was that you were going to have weight loss surgery and then didn’t. That was happening to me. I canceled my gastric sleeve the week before surgery due to complications that the surgeon did not have me feeling confident about going forward. I never thought for a moment that I could release 175lbs and be in normal sized clothing & body again. I did it through a 12 step program. One of their silly mottos is “we come in for vanity, and receive sanity.” Well that wasn’t true for me. I’m 48 and back in the program for over 2 1/2 years for the sanity, I was so tired of obsessing about food. When I was in my teens and early 20’s I weighed a normal weight, but hated my body, hated it. Hated myself so much. I got down to a certain # for my wedding and was surprised, but it didn’t make me happy in my life, I was still who I was before I lost the weight. So I knew this time, that being thinner did not change my happiness factor as I came back to program the 2nd time. But for me I went back for sanity, and found vanity. The excess skin is so so difficult. I have no desire for surgery to correct anything. But oh how hard it is. It’s funny for me it is the thighs and upper legs that I think look like I’m 100 years old. This summer I bought a bathing suit top and swimmers capri pants as could not stand to see my legs. And my arms that is so hard too, I tried to wear elbow length t-shirts all summer and capris. My neck, sigh, my friend’s 3 year old granddaughter was like, what is this, and jiggled my neck skin. I tried to act like it was okay and lifted my head and said, is it gone now? And she said yes, and I put my head back to normal position and she said’It is back”. and laughed. I could have cried inside. I knew this would happen, I have belly issues too, but for some reason that doesn’t bother me as much as it is coverable. But breast, okay I am going to say it, hope it isn’t tmi. I saw my great grandmother in her 90’s being dressed by my nana and it was horrifying as an 18 year old to watch my nana tuck my great nana’s sagging, long thin, deflated breast up into her bra. That is me now at 48, my body looks about 90 in lots of places, knee down okay, elbow down okay. Clothes are my best friend and the vanity, I want to look good in clothes. I used to joke I would roll my breast up Princess Leia style and just stuff them in a bra, but it was a joke, I didn’t realize how hard it would be when it was a reality, How hard it is for me to be close to my husband now. I was always modest, but wow. He has loved & accepted me at all weights, but it is hard for me. So just the other day I was thinking, at what age do I accept who I am? Do I accept this is just a body and it shows my battle scars, the journey I have been through? I’m 48 at what age do I finally feel free? My mom is 72 and her skin is in much better shape then mine, but she has never been 330+lbs. I’m sorry I am writing so much, but I am so grateful for your sharing that you have these feelings too, and about what is truly important. I so needed to hear that tonight and am so grateful. I am grateful to know that excess skin will not kill me, severe morbid obesity was going to. I watched my grandmother and aunt die very painfully due to morbid obesity. I didn’t want that for my children. It was so painful to watch. And I know that this gift of weight release, it a gift and needs to be gently cared for each day. It isn’t a diet mentality anymore, it is a healthy living and caring for my body that was abused for so long. The comments my friends I used to “eat” with make about how much older I look having released weight, I have to let that go and think of how I can move now, bend, dance, run (not that I like to run, but it was fun to know I can!! 🙂 ), how I can enjoy doing things with my family and be part of things vs hiding and pretending to be sick so I didn’t have to be seen and then feeling guilty for not being part of their lives. This is a gift, it truly is, and if the saggy, excess skin is part of the gift, then I know someday I will be able to accept that too. I work a bit more on it each day and say thank you for my body for holding me up through almost 20 years of morbid obesity and the abuse I put it through with my compulsive overeating. I’m grateful for it now as it is healing inside. Thank you so so much for your honesty and bringing up this topic, it is difficult one. And i will tell you, you are beautiful, whether you feel it or not, you are inside and OUT!! ❤ ❤ ❤ As women we can always lift each other up!! ❤ ❤ ❤

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