#BoycottTheBefore Reminds Us We're So Much More Than These Photos

by Jerriann Sullivan
Image via Instagram

“I am so much more than a ‘before’ photo.”

Before and after photos showing weight loss or gain are ridiculously popular on social media sites, which is why #BoycottTheBefore was launched for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. The online movement aims to inspire women to skip sharing their “before” photos – when they were struggling with their eating disorders – and instead, focus on their current selves.

Since 26-year-old model and body positive advocate Iskra Lawrence has first-hand experience with eating and weight loss issues she joined the movement and posted a photo of her own. “Since I’ve come out about my struggles, it’s amazing how many girls from my past have said, ‘Do you realize I felt the same as you, Iskra?’ How crazy that we all did and yet none of us talked to each other about it,” she told SELF.

“I myself have felt the pressure to post before and after pics to validate that I too suffered but that’s not right,” she shares on Instagram. “We do not need to prove that we struggled, we do not need to feel like anyone may have struggled more or less because maybe there before and after photos aren’t as ‘dramatic.’ It’s not even about that, it’s always about how far you’ve come so @boycottthebefore is here to celebrate YOU right now! To celebrate how far you’ve come and maybe how far you still have to go — there is no perfect recovery and everyone’s is completely unique.”

#BoycottTheBefore was started by another body positive Instagram star who has nearly 20,000 followers. Lexie, who’s also a mental health advocate, started the movement because she says the constant before and after photos could have negative effects on folks who are still suffering from eating and weight loss issues. “For those in early recovery especially, our eating disorders can tempt us to compare numbers or sizes, or even make us question, ‘Am I sick enough to receive help? Because that person seems to need it more than me.'” Lexi shared. “That can be very harmful when it comes to this. These photos also solely show physical growth. It is a huge misconception still that those who have eating disorders must be physically underweight to be considered struggling. It reinforces a misconception that you can see who is struggling.”

So while before and after pictures surely aren’t going away, the #BoycottTheBefore is a good reminder that we’re all on different journeys to self-acceptance that can’t be adequately explained with a couple of photos.