In today’s day and age, many people spend various amounts of time scrolling through social media. Most know social media affects its users to an extent, but it can be hard to know just how much it affects individuals, especially adolescents.

One particular aspect of social media that is problematic is posting before and after pictures following a weight loss advertisement.

Of course, people are free to make modifications to their life. However, posting a before and after picture sends many negative messages that can be quite harmful.

For one, such social media posts promote that the “before” is bad and the “after” is good. However, if one has a body type similar to the “before” picture, then one can imagine what kind of message that sends. 

Again, people are free to follow such paths, but not everyone with a large body would like to lose weight. For some, being in a large body is what is healthiest for them, and these individual differences should not be overlooked.

Some who are recovering from an eating disorder may realize that proper nourishment and consistent meals constitute a larger body. It is virtually impossible for one to recover from an eating disorder while following a weight-loss plan or diet.

When someone who suffers from such a devastating mental illness sees such content, he or she is much more likely to relapse. 

Chelsea Kronengold, an associate director of communications at the National Eating Disorders Association, said “while sometimes well-intentioned, the impact of before and after photos lend to social and body comparisons, which can cause harm to anyone — especially people struggling with body image and eating concerns.” 

Not only do before and after photos send negative messages to viewers, but it also sends negative messages to the poster. 

All of the comments along the lines of “You look great!” establish the idea that the person is more worthy after losing weight.

This principle brings up the form of discrimination most deny that actually exists: fatphobia. At the mention of this word, some may roll their eyes and claim how sensitive people are these days, but fatphobia is very real, especially in the instance of the before and after picture.

People are free to lose weight and do whatever they want nutritionally. However, these types of beliefs should not be projected onto other people in the form of a picture that basically says: “Here is a picture of my larger body. It is bad. It is unworthy. And here is a picture of my smaller body. It is good. It is worthy.” 

Why, exactly, does someone’s value as a human being increase the skinnier that he or she gets? This type of thinking is the most normalized kind of discrimination that America faces today. 

This also brings up the influence that these social media posts have on adolescents. As the years pass, more and more adolescents have social media accounts that make them susceptible to the negative messages sent by before and after photos.

An adolescent’s understanding of body image can be distorted by the idea that fat is bad and skinny is good, whereas, in reality, some people are genetically predetermined to have a large body and some are genetically predetermined to have a small body. No moral value should be placed upon these phenotypes.

Individuals are free to make modifications to his or her exercise and diet, but it is immoral to post a before and after and assume that what works for them works and is beneficial for everyone else.

Different things work for different people, and no two people are alike. People are fat and that’s ok. People are skinny and that’s also ok. People should be able to live their life without fear of judgment, ridicule or biss that is perpetuated by before and after photos.

If no one is hurting another, then they should not be judged or discriminated against. Let us all use kindness and an appreciation for diversity as we approach such topics.

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