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How “Before & After Photos” Don&#...

How “Before & After Photos” Don’t Always Tell The Full Story

The other day I woke up to see that Facebook had another notification for me. One of the ones that shows you your ‘memories.’ Youuu know what I’m talking bout.

This one was from 5 years ago, when I was in Mexico on vacation with my parents. Therefore it would have been in 2011, when I was in my second year of University and I would have been 19 years old.

The first thing that I noticed was how THIN, I looked. My arms, my back, even my face a bit – there looked to be absolutely no muscle definition. I was shocked, and thus delved a little deeper into the album that I had made at the time. In the majority of the photos I looked pretty weak to say the least. One would assume I couldn’t do a single push up.

At first I thought it was kind of hilarious, and thought about making a joke ‘transformation Tuesday’ photo for social media. It would show everyone how far I had come in those 5 years! From skinny and useless, to strong and lean! It would be great! (p.s., not saying if you’re skinny you’re useless. I’m just saying I would be useless).

what… is that Beverley??

Before I could do that, something in the back of my head stopped me. When I was 19 years old, I wasn’t weak, by any means. I had been playing competitive rugby for at least 4 years by this point, and was a tough betch. I could hit harder than most girls my size, and I could most definitely do 20 push ups in a row. Yet I was still growing, still young, and most likely, muscle definition was not something I had been focussing on at all.

Photos taken 1 year prior

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Something that i’ve noticed constantly on social media are transformation photos. In this day and age, with fitness as such a huge focus of everyone’s lives, transformation photos mean everything. I’ve also noticed that a lot of people use photos of themselves from many, many years ago, to compare to how they look now. You cannot compare your 15 year old self to your 25 year old self. As i’ve clearly demonstrated, your body composition is completely different, and that comparison is unrealistic by neglecting to tell the full story.

I think transformation photos are a good thing, and the majority of the time can be motivating and a positive reinforcement for many people. That being said, the transformation photos we see can so easily be faked (as this one Instagrammer illustrates below), exaggerated, and unrealistic, which can lead to unsatisfied and unhappy mindsets.

I personally have worked with clients that have seen transformation photos on social media, and questioned me as to why their body wasn’t changing as quickly or as dramatically. Every single body is different, and takes time to adapt to a particular training program. You also have no idea how long it took that person to get the lighting, posing, camera angle and outfit right, just to highlight their transformation.

This can be dangerous as it may start to instill unhealthy ideas or actions to reach that level of a transformation. One article summed it up perfectly, “While we logically know that many images on the internet aren’t genuine, we sometimes allow ourselves to be fooled on some level into measuring ourselves against them.

Kayla Itsines has previously complained about fake users that post fake transformation pictures, hoping they will get a chance to be featured on her 5.8MM+ Instagram page.

I’m not hating or bashing on people who like to post their transformation pictures – as I said, they can be a positive and motivating tool. But even great things come with consequences, and I believe it’s important to recognize the downfalls of such a massive social trend (that seems to have completely taken over Instagram).

Not so skinny now, eh Cheng?

What About You?

  • Personal transformation photos, yay or nay?
  • Thoughts on these massive social media trends?

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  1. athleticavocado

    8 November

    I totally agree Beverly! Transformation pictures can be positive under certain circumstances but you really can’t compare yourself from a picture that was taken 10+ years ago in most cases! These photos don’t tell the whole story!

    • beverleyc

      8 November

      For sure! I’ve seen people post such silly comparisons, they might as well be still in diapers! Haha, a bit of an exaggeration but you know what i mean 😉

  2. Miss AK

    8 November

    What a great prospective! Love this, you’re always so refreshing.

    • beverleyc

      8 November

      Aw thanks Allie! So glad you think so 🙂

  3. I love your take on this topic. It’s so easy to get sucked into what you see online and take it at face value.

    • beverleyc

      8 November

      totally! there should be more disclosures

  4. Virjinia

    8 November

    I agree. Photos can be so easily manipulated. I’ve taken a few once for an exercise regime I did for 6 weeks but I kept them to myself. I really don’t care to put something like that on the internet and have someone use it for whatever reason. I’m pretty much over these “transformation pictures” all over my feed.

    • beverleyc

      8 November

      That’s the other thing too – no one has their own personal photos anymore! EVERYTHING is now ‘meant’ to be shared. Thanks for reading Virjinia 🙂

  5. Laura

    8 November

    I think transformation photos can be super dangerous, especially with photoshop and things like that. Every woman’s body is different. We have all gone through different, beautiful journeys in life that have led us to have the bodies we have. I currently pregnant with my 4th healthy baby but this is my 6th pregnancy. While I’ve managed to stay active throughout the last 7 years of my baby-making life, my body is definitely different….but my journey has been SO worth every minute. I’d sacrifice being able to do pushups to enjoy raising and having my babies in a heartbeat without a moment of hesitation. I think transformation photos have their place in a person’s personal life, but the real question we have to ask ourselves is how would sharing these photos effect other women in our lives? Would it be positive or negative? I love the quote “If only our eyes saw souls instead of bodies, how very different our ideals of beauty would be.”

    • beverleyc

      8 November

      Laura!! Such a beautiful and incredible comment, thank you for that! You are seriously SUCH an inspiration, and I know i’ve told you before, but I gotta tell you again (and again). And I love that quote as well – how true that really is. <3

  6. Julie @ Running in a Skirt

    8 November

    I love this! You can’t judge just by one photo. I swear I can look entirely different at 6AM vs 10PM in a single day! It’s all about your strength, confidence, happiness and of course your heart… not just a photo!

    • beverleyc

      8 November

      Hahah Julie me too! Even after breakfast it looks like a month difference.

  7. Personally, I love to counteract the transformation Tuesday crowd which often show weight loss with filters, angles, etc with my transformation weight GAIN. I show photos of me as lifeless and thin next to a heavier, roll-ier, HAPPIER me to put it in perspective.

  8. I was just looking at pictures of me from a couple years ago when I was running primarily. I was definitely thinner and commented to Neil that maybe I should start running again. Then I hit myself in the face. HA. Not really, but it just made me reflect on different stages and how different activities can lead to different results. Plus, back then I probably wouldn’t have been able to carry a million groceries home from the store 🙂

  9. Jess @hellotofit

    10 November

    You are a rockstar, and I appreciate that you point out the intricacies that revolve around comparing ourselves to our younger selves. So much changes, and its def important to put things into context!! Strength all the wayyy, by the way 😉

  10. Emily Weir

    11 November

    It’s so easy to get caught up comparing our progress to others, since we only ever see the good stuff people take time to share on social media. We always have to keep in mind that we don’t know the struggle they went through to get to that point, regardless of how easy their journey might appear.

  11. Rachel Pattison

    11 November

    Really awesome perspective and very refreshing to read. Thanks Beverley!

  12. You are awesome. I seriously wish we lived closer – I KNOW we’d be besties. You are such a GOOD influence on so many. Your perspective on body image, working out, living a balance lifestyle is spot on. Oh and you look amazing and I want to say “oh yeah my model friend Bev and I had coffee today”….

  13. Liv @ Healthy Liv

    13 November

    I really love this post, Beverley! Pictures DEFINITELY don’t tell the whole story, as you never know what someone’s background is, what they’ve been dealing with, etc. not to mention things like different lighting and angles and all of that. Great prespective!

  14. annadownsouth

    23 November

    I actually needed to read this today! Especially the part about comparing your current body to one of a completely different stage in life, which is something I’m more than guilty of!

  15. dananicoledesigns

    14 December

    Great post girl! It’s amazing how a different posture, some good lighting and and a good angle can make someone look more lean. People need to realize this before being so hard on themselves!

  16. Lacy

    12 January

    Hi Beverley,

    I am always seeing awesome transformations online from women who have been doing the Kayla Itsines BBG and seen great success. Any thoughts on whether the program is actually effective or not?

    • beverleyc

      13 January

      Hi Lacy,
      Definitely not for me to comment on whether it is effective, as I’ve never done it before. I will say though that she wouldn’t have so much success if it weren’t a good program.

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