Diet culture isn’t body positive. We know that. No one should feel shamed into losing or gaining weight. And, honestly, nothing is more annoying than an Instagram feed boasting pictures of Herbalife breakfast shakes and bread-less brunches. But, are before and after pictures? This is something my partner and I argue about incessantly. He suggests that they are motivating and promote healthy lifestyles – but I believe them to be somewhat damaging and ultimately, suggestive that it is the norm to want to change and alter your body rather than being happy and comfortable within yourself.
The utterly gorgeous Megan Jayne Crabbe (AKA Bodyposipanda) showing us what a before and after picture should look like.
I believe in going to the gym and doing regular exercise (even though the most I partake in is a weekly shag/walking from the bar to the smoking area). I’m just not sure about using the gym as a way to physically alter your appearance. In some ways, I also believe in diets. Don't freak out. Although I hate the dreaded D word (diets, obvs, I love any other kind of D). I would never condone dieting to anyone looking to lose weight, but admittedly, I use some form of diet to stay focused. I eat what I want, when I want, but my slightly obsessive personality and complete lack of self-control can often prove problematic.
My ‘diet’ is just a routine, so as to make my life and general health easier. Plus it is a god send when it comes to doing my weekly ‘big shop’. It works for me, and inevitably contributes to my happiness and clear and healthy mindset. I stopped properly dieting just this year. Before 2017, I constantly scrutinized what I ate and whenever I treated myself (for 72 hour binges most weekends), I would live in guilt and juice for days afterwards. And, admittedly, would then post before and after pictures with a 'look how hot and skinny I look' subcontext. All in all? Not a healthy lifestyle. It wasn’t until I realised that a buying a size 8 rather than a size twelve wouldn’t make me any happier (this is purely an example, the last time I was a size 8 I WAS 8) and that the only way for me to lose 10lbs would be to amputate a vital limb that I decided to ditch the diets.
Mental health is just as important and physical health. So whilst the gym might be building your glutes and flattening your tummy, any pressure to stick to such a rigid routine is inevitably more damaging to your overall health than skipping the gym once or twice ever would be. Let yourself live.
I have nothing against fitness pages/models – if that is how you want to live your life then amazing, you do you! I can appreciate a good body. In truth, every body I see is ‘good’. Are your before and after pictures posted to inspire and motivate others or because you are proud of your achievements? Playing devil’s advocate here but, ultimately, aren’t these two linked in some verging-on-vicious circle? Whilst I stand in defence of gym-goers, body builders and fitness fanatics alike – I could not be more against using this to shame any other person into being someone other than themselves. This is all part of the problem – so many before and afters feature overweight men and women rivalled against their significantly thinner latter self. This simply promotes the idea that being ‘fat’ is a bad thing and something to stay away from. Bullshit. Fat is not a bad word, and it’s high time it stopped being used to describe anything negative. I would so much rather be ‘fat’ and live a confident, positive life eating pizza and not giving a fuck, than a stressful, pressured life spent constantly worrying about how many calories, carbs or macros are being consumed/burned.
So – thoughts?