Before & after photos (aka body transformation content) isn’t anything new - it has been used for decades to demonstrate the “before” & “after” of someone’s (often physical) journey.
It is often a diet and/or exercise regime someone has been on but we are also bombarded with the somewhat more extreme variety of before & afters in the form of plastic surgery.
Whilst some may see weight-loss transformations as motivation - these photos are often coupled with the notion of “look how far I’ve come” and “This is what determination & hard work looks like” - there are also hurtful & often overlooked side effects of before & after body transformations that cannot go ignored.
First & foremost, before & after photos drum home the age old notion (lie!) that humans are healthier & therefore better when they are smaller… which is simply not true. Dive into the Health at Every Size movement (more on that soon!) and you’ll quickly understand that smaller ≠ healthier or better. Simultaneously, it reinforces the idea that big = bad (again, not true).
And what does this content say to a viewer that relates or looks like the before photo? It may say “you aren’t acceptable as you are” and “I had to go to extreme lengths to not look like you do.” Not only is that hurtful but it piggybacks off of fatphobia & body shaming.
Let’s not beat around the bush, this content regularly centers around women - that a woman’s primary role is to take up as little physical space as possible and it is then celebrated when she succeeds in taking up less space, which is masked as “determination” & “discipline”...please.
Lastly, but certainly not least, this content belittles exercise down to a weight loss tool - it is so, so much more than that. Exercise is a great tool to improve strength, reduce pain … hell, it is a celebration of what our bodies can do!
So, if you ask me, body transformation content is a way to keep women on the perpetual cycle of focussing on taking up as little space as possible by worrying about hitting a “goal weight” rather than focussing on actual issues that matter!