I was looking at photos from 2012 and found this photo in the purple tee from a con standing next to a Dalek (in case it’s not obvious). Then, I found the second picture of me in a dressing room from a year later. I showed my new doc and the receptionist at her office. They were both shocked and said they never would’ve guessed that either picture was me. I think both pictures look like me and the people that have known me longer would agree. The most disturbing this was that their reactions. They showed their preference for the thinner me.
Fitting versus Flattering
The more I looked at this picture, the more thoughts came to mind. Before pictures are always staged. You put the person in ill fitting clothes with no make-up, poor lighting, and tell them to look serious (or so it always seems). I feel like my before and after pics above look staged. The first picture isn’t the most flattering outfit I’ve ever put together, my arms behind my back are for who knows what reason that doesn’t read in the photo. The second picture has me wearing a neckline that opens up the neck and chest area, and the darker sweater keeps the eye moving, which for some reason makes us think things look “better”. And of course I have a less goofy face- which to me is always awesome. Goofy faces FTW!
Before and After
Stepping back from these images, I can’t help but extract meaning. What we wear communicates how we want to be seen, the things we like and a myriad of other mini stories about us. From a mainstream, un-accepting societal view, the subtext from the before and after above is: Weight loss = better, prettier, flattering, feminine, and more of all the things. I personally don’t agree with that. I don’t believe a certain weight range based on your height makes you more good looking than any other weight. (Disclaimer: I’m not addressing eating disorders in this post.)
Someone promoting a diet or exercise routine would totally use the above picture as a way to exaggerate the outcome IF you use blah blah blah product. The difference is very apparent. But of course I can’t stop there. I had to pull out one of my favorite pictures from my old blog next to the newer picture: my skant pic! I love it and when I set up a new before and after it reveals more about how I actually feel about myself.
This before and after more accurately communicates of how I feel about myself. It says, “hey, this person leads a full, enjoyable life.” And, of course, it says that I love Star Trek.
Let’s fast forward to 2021, and we see the image below. This is a picture that feels like me right now. I’ve been asked if seeing myself in more feminine presenting clothes makes me feel uncomfortable, and so far, I’m good. That might change. Who knows.
How do you react to before and after pictures? Do you ever get annoyed about how staged they are? Do you have pictures of yourself wearing something you wish you never had worn or glasses that made you look like an owl? (yeah, that would be me in the 90s) What’s your internal monologue about these images?