It’s time for influencers to stop posting transformation posts on Instagram

Before and after pics promote the narrative that weight is something to be ashamed of

People, but most especially women, are constantly reminded of what their bodies ‘could’ look like, ‘should’ look like and of all the ‘benefits’ of losing weight. It’s everywhere on TV, in magazines, in newspaper headlines and, in its most toxic form, on Instagram. One of the biggest examples of this is transformation posts.

Transformation and weight-loss posts are everywhere. We get them on our explore page, we get them from workout platforms, we get them from the influencers we follow. They’re near-impossible to avoid and for a lot of people, posts like this are enough to ruin their day – it’s time to call an end to them.

Last month Zara McDermott posted four transformation pictures on her story promoting her “healthier” and “happier” lifestyle which lead her to lose three stone. Since then, Amber Gill has now also posted transformation pictures to her Instagram. She posted one last week and has since posted two more, and started a fitness account and website tracking her ‘progress’.

Credit: Instagram

The caption of the first post said: “Guys look at this…I lost my lockdown weight! I’m so proud of my little transformation I didn’t really intend on losing a load of weight just wanted to start feeling better. By no means do I think I was ‘fat’ but I wasn’t being as healthy and mindful as usual and right now I feel so much better within myself. I used to think that line “lose a stone in six weeks” was all lies but that’s exactly what I did 😂  and a little bit extra. If you’d like to know how I did it I’d love to share with you all you can email direct on: [email protected]

This may seem like a really positive post. Why should we knock people for celebrating something they’re proud of? Why shouldn’t we let people push a ‘healthy’ and ‘happy’ lifestyle?

Women can’t get away with anything on Instagram without receiving a shit tonne of hate, so I’m not bashing Zara or Amber specifically. They’re a product of a much bigger problem. The problem being this toxic mentality that weight loss = success, slimmer = fitter, that dieting and not ‘eating what you want’ is the only way you can live a healthy life. And transformation posts just reinforce this over and over and over again.

These posts centre on weight loss rather than promoting a healthier and happier lifestyle

Any influencers who get hate for these posts usually clap back with: “I’m living a healthy life. That’s not something to be ashamed of. Living healthily is important for everyone. This transformation has changed my life. I’ve never been happier.”

Great, all very fair points. But that’s not what these posts are about. If these transformation posts are about being healthy then why are you telling me how much weight you’ve lost? Why are you talking about the restricted eating you’ve introduced? And the HIIT workouts you do seven times a week? This isn’t about health. This is about losing weight and before you say they’re the same thing, THEY’RE NOT.

The success of these transformations centre on the weight that’s been lost, when they should actually centre on the fact that this shift in lifestyle has made you feel healthier – less lethargic, more motivated, improved mental health. These are all great benefits of having a balanced diet and regular exercise. This is what we should be celebrating. Not that, thank god, I can finally fit into my size four bikini again.

Any post about weight or body image is potentially extremely triggering

This is something influencers really need to be more aware of. If they’re feeling good about their body after losing weight or starting a new workout routine or changing up their diet then I get it, they want to celebrate and share it. However, if you have 100,000 plus followers you need to take some responsibility for the influence your posts can have.

Anyone with any form of eating disorder, disordered eating, body dysmorphia, or anxiety around food, exercise or their body will find posts promoting weight loss very triggering. So, just don’t do it. If you’re happy about your new progress then tell your friends and your family, don’t post it to two million people. And if you’re that desperate to talk about weight loss on your Instagram please just add a trigger warning.

Before and after pics promote the narrative that weight is something to be ashamed of

Arguably the most jarring aspect of these posts are the before and after pics.

I understand that taking pictures and measurements of yourself at the beginning of any body image journey can be helpful. Whether this is losing weight, gaining weight, gaining muscle, or going on holiday and getting tan – having a before picture to compare to can be a great way to check on your progress. There’s nothing wrong with this. But keep it to yourself, please. This doesn’t need to be shared. If you want extra validation then send it to your partner or your mum or your best mate. Don’t post it on Instagram.

Before pictures are always underpinned with shame. A sense that whatever we see in that picture isn’t acceptable and needed changing. And nine times of out 10, the shame is weight. Now consider the many people who will look at these before pictures and think: “That looks like my body” or “I wish my body looked like that”. For anyone who thinks this, these pictures are screaming your body isn’t good enough, it needs to change, you need to lose weight, you should be ashamed too, if she can do it you should do it.

Weight loss and “the perfect body” is shoved down our throats all day, every day. No one needs any more reminders. We all know the expectations and restrictions and pressure there is on women to look a certain way and fit a certain size. If you’re an influencer who’s gone on a special regime and is proud of your new weight-loss transformation, that’s wonderful for you and you should be happy – no one’s trying to take that away from you. But keep it to yourself, you have no idea how much damage you could be doing.

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