It makes me about puke when people want to see my weight loss before and after pictures. I’m not happy to show them, not because of the pictures or my weight, but because to what end? Why is it anyone’s business? It’s so weird if you think about it. I don’t know. Maybe they’re just curious? Maybe they think it’s such a huge relief for me that I was this “broken” person and now am “fixed” in their eyes. Have I now arrived at a summit on top of a happy mountain and my life is now going to be full of ease and without suffering? Nope. Nope. Nope. My weight has never defined me. I’m a human on a human journey having all of the human experiences in every moment. That’s it. Simple.
So many things change in our lives and in our brains because of the minute-to-minute daily experiences and interactions living our human lives, it would be impossible to sum it all up in before and after photos.
Our weight is a neutral circumstance, a measure on a scale that, unfortunately, in our society, is weaponized to mean something about us as individuals. Spoiler alert: we have a long way to go, but things are getting better! In our society, everyone is so used to this topic being everywhere, we have become desensitized to our stigma and bias, which means we may not even notice when personal boundaries are violated. For those of us who struggle with our weight, we’re so used to it, maybe we don’t even notice when we’re asked questions that really should be private health information. Or, maybe we don’t want to be rude, so we answer the questions or laugh it off, or think if I just answer a question or two, then it will stop? What I just wrote makes my stomach hurt.
On the other hand, in general, people operate with good intentions, so we can give people the benefit of the doubt that they are genuinely caring. Plus, we all know that us doctors haven’t figured out how to have helpful conversations about weight in the clinic, so why are we surprised when people don’t have a clue how to talk about it in public?
We are so very far off about weight in our culture that it’s not that hard to see when people ask to see before pictures, they are truly clueless about what that is saying to those of us who were fine in our before bodies. Sure, there were things we would rather not have had to deal with and maybe we weren’t truly happy about all of the things and our weight wasn’t exactly where we wanted it, but that’s always the case with all of life for every human. There are always things we would change and wish were different in every moment of every day. Shocker! Not. Here’s the thing: we are never and were never and never will be broken. If there is no before, then there’s no after.
Maybe we can’t stop the questions, but we can show up and tend to causes and work towards our own amazing journey of self-discovery however we choose. Over time, we will make it a more just society and the stigma and shame and bias will get better. I just know it. I believe this with my whole heart. It’s not going to happen overnight. So, when someone asks you to see your before and after pictures, how do you want to show up? Just say, there is only now and it’s a great day!
The reality is there are enough cool people out there right now who you can create your communities with, where you will find the support you need to reach all of your goals and dreams. Hint: Join IME Community!!