Lynne Murray says
“I wish I could have seen that when I was 16,” my friend said when I showed her this short clip of a photographer taking “before and after” shots on the same day.
It still might not have saved her from forty years of diet madness.
As of 2007, Reuters estimated fat-fighting scams to be the most common form of fraud.
But knowing that one con artist or a thousand snake-oil salesmen deliberately lie won’t protect someone from the documented truth that the mainstream “legitimate” weight-loss industry has the roughly the same failure rate at attaining long-term weight loss as the outright criminal fraudsters.
We breathe in fatphobia with every exposure to mass media and doctors sometimes even demand weight loss before or in the place of attempting any other diagnosis or medical treatment.
The “before/after” photo layout usually contains outright fraud of one kind or another. But the very before/after format itself damages our view of our bodies even when not perpetrated by pure scam artists using photo tricks and Photoshop effects.
The same damage is done by giant diet corporations who recruit celebrities for short term weight loss marathons and discard them when they regain the weight.
The before/after photos successfully demonstrate the fatphobic attitude they wish to reinforce. They install the buttons they will press to wring dollars out of their victims. They also set up a scenario for the viewer to follow. The mindset they try to create owes a lot to the religious conversion experience.
In the before photo, the (sinner or) before person shows a miserable expression, clearly a soul tortured and tainted by their unacceptable body.
In the after photo, the newly cleansed, streamlined, muscular after person smiles at the happy life now possible in an acceptably buff body, reaping all the admiration, rewards and happiness denied the before person.
There is also a before/after in the Health At Every Size mindset. I see it clearly in my own life. Before giving up dieting and obsession with my weight I lived with the belief that I could never be happy, loved, or accomplished until I lost weight. After learning how to accept myself and befriend and celebrate my body as it is, I am free to enjoy life and to love and be loved by those who accept and respect me. And about those accomplishments: I’ve had much more time and energy to get real work done once I eliminated the futile quest for weight loss from my schedule.
My own transition from before to after didn’t take place overnight or in a blinding flash of conversion. It took hard work over several years, but it was worth it.