Proud2Bme | Before/After

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Before/After

-By Amanda Jones-

Every year during NEDAwareness week, I notice a slew of before and after recovery photos popping up on my newsfeed.

And while I get really excited to see people doing well in their recovery and think it’s great to show how far you’ve come, the pride you take in yourself, the strength in overcoming, I can’t help but wonder what kind of message we may be unintentionally putting out to those who view them.

Do people ever feel triggered by seeing our ‘sick’ pictures? Do people ever use our ‘sick’ picture to invalidate how sick they are? Does it create shame for people whose eating disorders are not noticeable by outward appearance alone? Does it further reinforce a message that says to have an eating disorder requires a certain ‘sick’ or underweight body? Does it make people believe that eating disorders are just a weight and body image issue?

Of course, I’m guilty too. I’ve wanted to post my underweight sick pictures beside a current healthy one, exclaiming how well I am now. How my body is no longer falling over at the slightest bit of movement.

But when I stopped to think about it, would I have ever considered posting pictures from my relapse? At the time, I was terribly sick with purging disorder and struggling with debilitating depression, but remained at a normal “healthy” weight.

I wouldn’t have, because you couldn’t have seen how sick I was by looking at any of my pictures.

And better yet, why does it matter? Bones, waist, thigh gaps, etc. are not always indicative of how sick people with eating disorders are. A person’s physical appearance is only a small part of an eating disorder; the mental and emotional difficulties that accompany it are difficult, if not impossible, to fully see from the outside.

And so I encourage you to really put thought into the pros and cons of sharing your before and after recovery photos. There is nothing inherently wrong with showing how far you’ve come, but I wonder if maybe there are better ways to show it than through focusing on your change in appearance.

Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes, and can be unfortunately competitive and analytical in nature. If you’re choosing to post before and after pictures of your recovery journey this week, please try to remember what your intentions are in sharing the photos. Photos should not emphasize your weight loss or gain, but instead focus on the part of recovery that is most important; your smile, your laugh, your ability to live life to the fullest.

And for those of you viewing recovery pictures, keep in mind; Eating disorders are a disease of the mind and a manifestation within the body, and no pictures can show that.

About this blogger: Amanda Jones is a recent Marriage and Family Therapy graduate from Lee University. She enjoys yoga, nutrition, softball, writing, and playing the guitar. Inspired by her own recovery, Amanda is currently working on eating disorder research within couples therapy, and hopes to further develop an equine assisted psychotherapy program. 

Also by Amanda:

Urban Outfitters and the "New Normal"

For more on NEDAwareness Week:

NEDAwareness Week 2015!

#LoveYourRealSelfie

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About Us

Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

This site was developed in partnership with Riverduinen and made possible by generous contributions from JPMorgan Chase, Globant, the University of Delaware, and The Hilda & Preston Davis Foundation.

Proud2Bme was first launched in the Netherlands by Riverduinen, a mental health organization that has licensed the concept to the National Eating Disorders Association. Unless otherwise noted, all original content on this site is copyright The National Eating Disorders Association. The Proud2Bme brand, logos, and trademarks are property of Rivierduinen.