Never under-estimate the power of a good ‘Before and After’ picture.
In the years I spent working in women’s magazines, a picture of a celebrity looking Thin next to a picture of them looking Not Thin was the magical ingredient that would send a cover flying off the shelves.
After all, who cares if you look great in a bikini, if you never looked “bad” in one in the first place?
Before and After pictures speak to our dreams of transformation, they let us all dare to hope that yes, today we look kind of… ordinary, but tomorrow, tomorrow, we could be Jessica Alba. Anything is possible.
But celebrities used to hate them. They knew that in order to ram home the impact of their latest juice-cleanse/trainer regimen/liposuction, they would first have to be humiliated by the least-flattering shot a photo agency can dig out. The one that got snapped just when they’d had a baby/a big lunch/an empire-line sundress moment.
Not any more. Celebrities have taken back the power. They are now fat-shaming themselves.
This past weekend, Khloe Kardashian – who for years trolled as the ‘big’ sister – posted this picture of montage of herself on Instagram with the following explanation:
“Looking back at pictures of myself I didn’t realize at the time how unhealthy my lifestyle actually was. People love to call me the fat one but as weird as it sounds I still don’t think I would consider myself fat back then. Definitely overweight and unhealthy, yes. About two years ago I decided to turn to fitness as a form of therapy and as a stress reliever. I started slow and eventually I started working out 4 to 5 days a week.”
“Working out is a huge part of my life now. I genuinely enjoy sweating out my frustrations and living a healthier life. My workouts are not all about vanity. They are about clarity for my mind and soul. We all have different journeys in life, make sure your journey is for you and you alone. Remember in the end the turtle won the race. Slow and steady. dedication and tenacity.”
As far as celebrity weight-loss advice goes, this is downright responsible. Khloe is advocating commitment and dedication, not a quick fix. But holding up a photograph of yourself from a few years ago and saying that you look unhealthy and are so much happier at a new weight is a dangerous act.
For a start: It is near-impossible to tell how healthy or unhealthy someone is by looking at them. People looking at that picture, and seeing themselves reflected back, are not necessarily unhealthy because of their size.
Then: How do your 18 million followers, many of whom probably also adored you when you were “bigger”, feel about their own bodies now that you have so publicly disowned your curves?
Is it really progress when the bullied starts bullying herself?
Self-loathing is where that train leads. And we don’t have to travel very far to find it.
Khloe Kardashian’s little sister Kylie Jenner is 17. And she was all over the gossip blogs today for posting her own Before and After – this one.