Let me just clarify one thing, before I get into this. Body positivity is for ALL bodies. My body type happens to fit within one faction of body positivity, but in no way does that mean fat girls should be shaming skinny girls. (A topic for another day.) We also shouldn’t be shaming disabled bodies, birth marked bodies, muscle bodies, etc. Sometimes we see things that are un-natural to us. While that fact makes sense, we often react in humor to make light of the situation. This can, on occasion, turn into aggressive behavior and what most like to refer to as body shaming. Let’s stop doing that, it’s not cute.
All that being said, “Before & After” pictures stress me out.
Like… does anyone else have a moral dilemma before clicking the like button? I sure do.
Here’s the thing, I do not have a healthy relationship with weight loss and dieting. I have been fat since seven and let me tell you I’ve tried about a billion different ways to lose weight. I’ve never lasted much longer than a couple months; because the problem is that I become obsessive in a very unhealthy way. You can spin it however you want, “dieting, lifestyle change, weight watchers, portion control”, I’ve done it all. It doesn’t work for me; I know this about myself. On the other hand, I enjoy working out. I HATE RUNNING. But working out is cool, I actually enjoy feeling sore and getting my sweat on. However, I was NEVER happy. I was ALWAYS in my head questioning every choice I made. I wasn’t living for myself, I was living for what I thought I needed to be. That’s when it clicked for me. I needed to be happy inside, before I could do the rest. All I was doing was torturing myself every day and still not feeling like I was good enough.
So there’s a point to this sad little story…
I recognize the extreme dedication and hard work that goes into losing a lot of weight. Those “Before & After” pictures are a beautiful representation of the kind of soul and determination a person has. Also, if a person did manage to lose weight, it’s because they truly wanted that for themselves. That goal deserves recognition.
Here comes my dilemma.
I HATE the body shaming that comes along with those pictures. Its subtle, but it’s there. It’s in the comments where people tell you that you look so good now, as if you didn’t before. It’s in the way people celebrate their weight loss, as if you can’t be a happy fat girl. It’s in the way people learn to love the fat girl when she’s not fat anymore. It’s in the way, little girls go home and take half naked pictures just so they examine their rolls and decide how to get rid of them one day. It frustrates me. I was that girl, and it’s ass backwards.
I should have been going home, looking in the mirror and figuring out how to say I love you, you’re beautiful. Instead, I was looking at my body, crying, and reminding myself I’d never be the skinny girl. What I wish someone had told me back then, was that I didn’t have to be the skinny girl, to be the happy one.
I already know that this particular blog will stir about a lot of thoughts and feelings. I’m not saying people should stop posting those pictures, but I do think how we react to them can shape how our youth view themselves. It would have been so much more beneficial to me, to see comments like…
“Your happiness is inspiring.”
“You worked really hard to reach your goal.”
“You were always beautiful, but seeing your journey is awesome!”
You see, I think the thing about “Before & After” pictures is that they showcase certain happiness. We’ve somehow created that to mean weight loss, when really all it has to show is your journey to self-love.
Happy people are beautiful.
Happy people are surviving.
I am living now.
I hope you can too.
Here’s my “Before & After”
(Listening to Birthday Cake, by Rihanna)