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At this time of year it seems you can’t flip on the TV or open a newspaper or magazine without being inundated by those weight loss ads with “before” and “after” shots. You know the ones. All my life, these ads really bugged me, but it’s really only recently that I understood why.
Aside from the obvious manipulations–the before shot is taken 2 days after a woman gives birth (ever notice how often women’s before shots include a baby?), the guy is slumping and sticking his gut out, the before shot is badly lit and the subject is wearing ugly clothes, no makeup and hasn’t seen the sun in 3 or 4 years, and after shots sporting newly spray-tanned, glistening bodies with perfect hair and makeup, flattering clothes and a big grin.
Aside from that obvious manipulation, one thing that always bugged me was the clear implication that the “before” was NO GOOD. The “before” person was ugly and sad and pathetic and the after person is awesome and cool. And given how often, in my personal experience, the “after” person goes back to looking like the “before” person for some or most of their life, it always struck me as kind of destructive.
I mean, before and after feeds into our fantasy, right? Before, my life sucked, but After I lost weight, my life became perfect.
Except, it never does. Life never becomes perfect.
And here’s another piece of news. Every picture of you is an “After” picture. Since you were a glint in your Daddy’s eye everything that happened to you, happened after something else. You are constantly in the process of becoming. And all versions of you are pretty darn great!
So I just decided to label every picture of me in the world an “after” picture. It’s the new me, the triumphant me, the fantasy me.
Why? Because I say so.
Why not do the same for yourself? You earned your awesomeness at every stage of your life. Decide all “yous” are “afters”. Then, you’ve always been and will always be, a winner.
The Fat Chick