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?”
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?