Here’s why I won’t boycott the before.
I’ve seen the hashtags floating around Instagram and I looked it up to see just what it was about. I started to understand the point they were trying to make, but it just didn’t click well with me.
Some of the reasons why people were boycotting the before was because “it’s triggering to others,” “it makes it seem like it’s all about weight,” “it makes people think they aren’t sick enough,” etc.
Valid reasons, I suppose. But are people not triggered when they see the ungodly amount of weightloss products when shown across their TV screens. Are they not triggered when there’s thin models on the cover of nearly every magazine? Are they not triggered when restaurants have calories listed beside every item? Are they not triggered when they look online at pro Ana/Mia websites that the interweb won’t shut down? They are SOO many more triggers than just a transformation photo of someone proud as fuck that they are recovering or recovered from their eating disorder. If you want to know why society is not changing and why recovery is hard, look at the society you live in. It’s extremely hard to recover from an eating disorder in a society promoting thinness literally everywhere. So when I see someone rejoicing that they’re happy again and kicked their ED to the curb because they didn’t let weight, etc affect them anymore, it’s all smiles from me.
If anyone has ever had an eating disorder or picked up a psychology book, they KNOW it’s not just about weight. Never really is. It’s usually a combination of wanting control, poor body image, and let’s not forget to mention the risk factors that are also involved. If you take the time to read most of the captions on these photos, or learn about the person posting them, you learn that it’s not just weight gain or loss. It’s a mental transformation more than anything. In the photos I see, I sometimes see a 2 lb weight gain for some who’s underweight and could use it or a 2lb weight loss from one who’s suffering from BED and is working to better themselves. But they talk about how they’ve changed mentally and I’m rooting for them all the way for feeling better about themselves and not letting their weight difference affect them. They are even some who’s weight has not changed at all and they post about their mental transformation and kudos to them too.
In regards to the “sick enough to having an ED/seek help” part….I have this to say. If you have/had an eating disorder, you should know that you seem to never think that you’re sick enough. It’s usually not until you’re faced with the hard facts or the idea of dying that you finally realize that you are sick enough. You don’t even have to look at someone else to think that, you just think it of yourself usually. I used to look in the mirror and see myself as fat and think I needed to lose weight if I was really going to fit the diagnosis of Anorexic. Mind you that I didn’t have any social media during that time in my life because it wasn’t healthy for me (unless you count Pinterest crafts). My doctors even suggested limited social media time since there’s a deep and dark ugly side to it.
Some people will actually hate before and after photos because they are still so unhappy within themselves and desire to be that level of happy and content again. That is not a problem for the rest of the world and social media to fix, it is theirs. And when their time comes, it will be amazing. I used to be that person until I found the light and I understand how great they felt in sharing it and their positivity about recovery.
People also argue that you’re promoting such and such when you post ED transformation photos. Yeah, I’m promoting recovery and in each photo I talk about my story and journey and for them to not compare themselves to me. But I note that recovery is possible and worth it. Try encouraging people to not compare themselves to others, that’s a major part of the problem as well. Relaying messages is important. I always say that recovery is not linear, that you are sick enough to get help and to begin recovery(a certain weight or size won’t determine that for you), and to work hard every day at loving themselves little by little.
I will never boycott my before. Never. If it wasn’t for the me on the left, the me on the right would have never made it this far.
The me on the left hated myself. I constantly just wanted to die and even contemplated suicide several times. My depression kept me in bed wanting to sleep my life away. My anorexia was what got me up to exercise and decide what I wasn’t going to eat. My anxiety was what made me get up and do things so that people wouldn’t think something was wrong with me (when there clearly was). I went from being content and carefree to miserable, starving, freezing in 80° weather, having my bones ache and clearly visible in some places, losing my period, and having my hair fall out.
It was Hell on Earth.
But if I hadn’t become that eating disorder ridden girl who hated life, I wouldn’t be where I am today. It is due to my eating disorder that I am finishing up a degree in psychology at one of the best colleges around. It’s why I’ve decided to go into counseling to help others and work towards being an eating disorder specialist. It’s why I have such a different outlook on life. I wake up each day knowing I have found my purpose and I work towards my goals. I’m so incredibly happy. If it hadn’t been for my ED, I’d probably always have had a problem with food. Since my eating disorder, I found my love of fitness and wanting to help others and eat whatever I like. I can go out and enjoy myself with my friends and not think twice about it.
In having eating disorders, I found who I was and I’ll be damned if I’m going to boycott my before. The ED ridden girl is just as amazing as the after photo, always has been.
I actually LOVE seeing ED transformations because I’m so unbelievably happy and proud to see them working towards a better them. I really wish I saw MORE of them to be honest. It makes my heart so happy to see them getting better and being happy again. Heck. I love seeing people post photos of their weight loss because they’re so proud of it/themselves and they’re doing it for no one but themselves.
It just baffles me that when I first came into the ED community years ago, people were so encouraging of seeing others overcome their EDs and share their stories and photos and now people just want to say it’s triggering and whatnot. Anything can be a trigger, but it is up to the person being triggered to step away from it.
I can see how it might affect some people, but it’s so empowering and encouraging to others at the same time. If it affects you negatively, take a step back and find your support system. Recovery is different for everyone and if something on social media bothers you, such as someone being proud of their recovery and sharing it, maybe it’s not them.
So many people get caught up on social media . Like I get that people want more body positivity and self love in this world. But boycotting before photos? Come on….. Especially when people want to talk about it/their journey (NEDAs theme this year, ya know). It makes me wonder how many of those people are actually and actively doing something about it and aren’t just ranting on their social media platforms about everything that bothers them? How many are doing research on the subject matter or finding out what improves body satisfaction. The answer is probably not very many. (People should really look into cognitive dissonance).
For crying out loud, if someone is sharing their photo and story and it’s a happy moment for them, celebrate it with them. Don’t tell them that they’re trying to “validate” themselves with likes and support and triggering to others. It really irks me to know that people can’t just be happy for someone sharing their journey through recovery because they didn’t seem to get the same support, say it’s doing more harm than good, or even haven’t reached the same level of happiness yet.
But as for me, I’ll continue to share my story and transformation photos to show others that there is happiness and light at the end of the tunnel. Recovery is cool and we should embrace it, even if it means posting transformation photos. And that goes for anyone recovering from anything. Eating disorders, substance abuse, trauma, accidents, etc.