The truth about before/after photos.

The Secret Behind “After” Photos

There’s often a secret looming behind those “after” photos that diet/lifestyle programs so often post to prove what amazing results others have achieved.

Before/After Photos Get ‘Likes’ on Instagram.

One of the most common sales tricks for diet culture is to use before/after photos. They are proven to generate a lot of likes and engagement on social platforms like Instagram. It helps diet companies “prove” that their product and programs work with evidential proof. After all, weight loss is the main goal of every diet program. Even the ones that claim to be a lifestyle program.

But it’s more than a marketing ploy.

When diet/lifestyle programs use before/after photos, they’re also intentionally manipulating you to believe that your body needs fixing. They’re hoping you look the same (if not heavier) than the “before” photo. Because if you do, you’re going to feel bad about yourself. And if you feel bad about yourself, then you’re going to want to fix your body. That’s where they can swoop in and give you the “solution” to all your problems.

It’s really a very shady tactic to get your money at best. And a demoralizing hit to your mental health at work.

The secret behind my after photos.

Back when I was immersed in diet culture, I posted before/after shots on my Instagram page. I’m sorry to say I’ve even used that oh-so-cringeworthy phrasing of “the girl on the left was (insert all the reasons I was the worst) but the girl on the right is (insert all the reasons why being thinner is so much better & healthier).”

Ugh. *shudder*

If I had been aware of how disordered my eating was at the time, my “after” photo should’ve had a caption that said…

The girl on the right:

  • Staves off her hunger with coffee until 11:30 am and then denies herself a snack at night.
  • Needs a significant amount of carbs every day but restricts herself to under 50g net on Monday and Tuesday.
  • Is EXHAUSTED and can’t complete her strength training workout on Wednesday since she restricted carbs the 2 days prior.
  • Has taught her husband not to bother preparing her meals because it won’t fit her macros but then gets mad when he “doesn’t think of her” while making food for the kids.
  • Spends hours on MyFitnessPal pre-planning, tracking, re-checking and rearranging so she can pretend she has food freedom.
  • Is projecting her diet culture BS on her kids.
  • Doesn’t know how much longer she can sustain this effort.
  • Continues to have a toxic relationship with food, fitness and body image.
  • Has even more of an eating disorder than the girl on the left.

Is there a secret looming behind your “after” photo? Would the diet/lifestyle program you’re promoting still want to be associated with you if you wrote a truthful caption?

Meridith Oram is an anti-diet nutritionist at Love Yourself Towards Healthy where she helps chronic dieters heal their relationship with food, fitness and body image by ditching diet culture and finding freedom in their God-given intuition. Focusing on behavioral change and Intuitive Eating, Meridith helps her clients unlearn diet culture, stop negative self-talk and set wellness goals---not appearance goals. Follow Meridith at @loveyourself2healthy on all social channels.

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