I find Before and After pictures to be one of the most ubiquitous and insidious forms of body shaming.
First, they are designed to create a situation where we judge bodies as good and bad or, at the very least, better and worse. I don’t believe that anything good comes out of this.
Second, they are used in money making contexts to “help” me identify my body as bad/worse, and show me that it could be good/better if I just bought whatever they are selling. That, as the brilliant CJ Legare says, is trying to steal my self-esteem and sell it back to me at a profit. And that’s not ok with me
I can’t help but notice that the person in the before shot always looks miserable and in the after shot they look so happy. The message seeming to be that anyone who looks like that cannot/should not be happy and that happiness is/should be reserved for those whose bodies are “right and good”. The worst for me is when the before picture is of someone in their sweat pants, eating on the couch before their shower; and the after picture is them standing in the sun, bronzed, sucking in until they are on the verge of fainting, fully made up, dressed up and smiling like they won the lottery.
Also, let’s not forget that they can be fake as hell with or without photo re-touching, as demonstrated in this video from “Bigger, Faster, Stronger” which is a really interesting documentary about steroid use (trigger warning, there are models in the video and also some negative body language)
I’m just suggesting that whether or not you want to get healthier or change the size and shape of your body, you might want to appreciate the body you have now and all of the millions of things it does for you every day (if you’re reading this, consider thanking your body for your vision/hearing, heartbeat, breathing, blinking, etc.) If you want somewhere to start, try Love Your Body More in Three Simple Steps
Also consider the possibility that there’s no such thing as “before” or “after; maybe there’s only “during” and maybe we are all perfect exactly where we are right this minute.