Model and body positive champion Iskra Lawrence has been known to post before-and-after pics in an effort to show her fans that thinner doesn’t necessarily mean healthier. (The 26-year-old suffered from disordered eating earlier in her career, and at one point was three dress sizes smaller than she is today.) But last weekend, Lawrence posted something a little different: an "after" selfie with no "before" selfie. In the space on the left, there is text that reads, “I am so much more than a ‘before’ photo. #BoycottTheBefore.”
In a post on Instagram, she explained why the "before" pictures that people in recovery sometimes share on social media (often from when they were at their lowest weight) can potentially be harmful to others. "For those in early recovery especially, our eating disorders can tempt us to compare numbers or sizes, or even make us question, 'Am I sick enough to receive help? Because that person seems to need it more than me,'" she writes.
What's more, the "before" photo feeds the myth that you have to be underweight to suffer from an eating disorder. "It reinforces a misconception that you can see who is struggling," Lexie adds.
As is so often the case with images on social media, these "before" pics don't tell the whole story, she points out.
In her own post, Lawrence writes that in the past, she felt compelled to share "before" photos to show how far she has come in her journey. “I myself have felt the pressure to post before and after pics to validate that I too suffered... but that's not right. We-do not need to prove that we struggled, we do not need to feel like anyone may have struggled more or less because maybe [their] before and after photos aren't as ‘dramatic’.”
She praises the movement for encouraging us to honor the way we are right now. "[T]here is no perfect recovery & everyones is completely unique,” she says.
But that said, Lawrence wants to be crystal clear she doesn't intend to shame anyone for documenting their own transformation with photos: "[T]his is NOT me telling you NOT to post before and afters or diminishing the achievements and accomplishments of those who are proud of their journeys. I love seeing people celebrating how far they've come and totally get why (myself included) choose to post before and afters."