Social media has become a great platform for spreading health knowledge and services. But it has also become a never-ending feed of side-by-side photos of “transformations” and before and afters.
Now, I don’t want to discredit anyone’s hard work or take away from any major milestones. I just want to create a space to reveal how this transformation obsession can fuel the very unhealthy, dishonest, and down-right nasty parts of the fitness industry.
To judge a person solely on the dramatic change that can be captured in only two points in time is unfair and unrealistic. No one on earth is just a set of before and afters. We are ever changing, evolving, learning, growing, and morphing into something else.
My initial reaction to seeing a Before and After post is congratulatory. I know what type of work and dedication that can go on behind the scenes for some of these transformations. My second reaction is somewhat sadness. A slight bitter aftertaste. So many of the comparison photos I see are to sell products or services. Someone else’s hard work is being capitalized on. This is one reason I will NEVER use these kinds of photos as an advertisement campaign. For one, I’m not a weight loss coach. I am a board-certified health and wellness coach. No where in that name does it say, “weight loss”. I purely view weight loss as a side effect to balanced living and is not to be used as the tape measure of wellness.
I also struggle because of how it instills a quick fix persona. Many of those who monetize before and after photos are selling a band-aide, not a long-term, higher-quality-of-life solution. And what is worse, we are further perpetuating the thin ideal which is truly not a marker of health.
If you are looking into purchasing a product or service that utilizes other people’s Before and After photos, I urge you to ask yourself the following questions first: