Chances are you’ve seen before and after photos on TV, in magazines or on social media like the ones showing weight loss, fitness transformations, makeovers or plastic surgery.
I have to admit... They drive me a little nuts, because so much of marketing these days is based in shame, and those comparison photos are part of it. Ads about makeup, clothes, diet shakes, exercise machines and more have this underlying message:
You need this product to be accepted/beautiful/thin/loved/fit/cool.
This subtle shaming comes in the form of phrases like:
Do this exercise program to get your bikini body back
This lipstick will make your lips look irresistible
Drink this diet shake 2x/day to lose the baby weight
Here’s the thing: there’s nothing wrong with your body or lips or weight as they are right now, but some businesses and coaches depend on this shaming to lure in customers and get them to buy their product or services, and that feels icky to me.
Don’t get me wrong: I think it’s great to change, and it’s important to take charge of our health, but I'm not a fan of those 'before & afters' because they:
imply the “before” version is less than the “after”, whether it be less beautiful, thin, fit, etc.
promote feelings of inadequacy, aka diet culture and ridiculous beauty standards.
Maybe these photos aren't directly impacting how you feel right now, but they can start to affect you on a very subconscious level, and over time, change how you see yourself. I'm sure most people in the health/wellness/fitness space don't even realize their messages have this effect, but I think it's important to be aware of it no matter what!
I’m a holistic nutritionist, so a lot of people I’ve followed in recent years have been in the health/wellness/fitness space, too.
I recently went on a big unfollowing spree, because my social media feeds started to become filled with those before and afters and posts that subtly shamed their audience, and that's just not my style.
But it wasn’t always that way. For years I was tricked into thinking this fitness program or that mascara would finally make me beautiful, worthy and accepted. It perpetuated my body shaming, and I had no clue it was happening!
Here's the truth: you don't need any product or service or program to be loved/accepted/enough/cool/amazing.
You are perfect just as you are. AND it's still ok to buy a product or service or change something about your physical appearance when it comes from this place of already awesome and desiring to change for yourself. No one else.
Does this resonate with you? If so...
A great first step to reject these marketing tactics is to simply become aware they exist. Notice who you follow on social media, what you watch on TV, and what you read in magazines. Do the messages make you feel “less than”? If so, step two is to filter out these messages. Change the channel. Read something more positive. Unfriend and unfollow those accounts.
You might be surprised how FREEING it is!
So tell me: how are you going to filter out these less than messages?