Could Posting ''Flaws and All'' Photos Boost Your Confidence?

By , Shelli Mosteller
Whether you're a voracious newsfeed reader or the casual Instagram browser, chances are if you're on social media you've seen the "before" and "not-quite-after" photos fitness blogger post online. Here's the setup: People take two pictures within seconds, minutes or hours, changing a few things in the "after" before posting them both side by side. For instance, on the left you might see a woman posing herself in a flattering way—flexing, sucking it in, finds that perfect angle with good lighting—and voila! This woman looks amazing. She has incredible abs, muscle definition, the whole package. Then, that same woman simply changes her posture, relaxes her muscles, pulls the compression tights down a bit and voila—she has cellulite and love handles in the picture on the right. In other words, she's a real person.

Do you have any idea how much courage it takes to post these pictures? These men and women could easily post the flattering, killer shots and let everyone believe they've achieved greatness, that they really are that perfect, confident person posing. By posting both shots, they show the reality after you pull back the curtain. The second photo says, "This is where I came from, I've still got work to do and I'm just like you." As a person with cellulite and love handles, I find both shots encouraging and inspiring. I want to shout, "Good for you!" and give them high fives or mama bear hugs.

It comes down to expectations. Weight-loss journeys are bundled with expectations coming from a jillion different directions. Television, magazines, blogs and social media posts—tons of images all telling us how we should look. We see the before and after pictures and desperately want to be the after, not realizing that most people don't walk around flexing all the time. (Honey, if you do walk around flexing all the time, you need to take a breath.) Nobody looks like an "after" 24/7; our bodies are flexible, prone to change and fluctuation. The same person that has a killer six pack probably has a few rolls when they sit down. We're not made of stone and we're all different. What works and looks great on you may be impossible for me to mimic, and that's okay. Thank goodness we're not all carefully chiseled works of art. What kind of world would that be? Where's the fun in that? That would be like walking through an art museum where all the masterpieces were the same statue. I don't know about you, but I want some Pollock and Lichtenstein mixed in with my Michelangelo.

But it takes guts to be real online—I know this from personal experience. I don't have flattering fitness pictures to post, but even I can take a headshot from a certain angle. I can crop out my large belly roll and minimize my ample derriere. I can leave mistakes on the cutting room floor. I can film from the one corner of my office that's actually clean and lead you to believe I'm an organized, all-together person. I can apply filters, use apps, dip into Photoshop. I can do all of those things.

But I try not to. I try to suck it up and post the hula hoop video that not only shows but emphasizes my belly roll. Not because I'm trying to show off how overweight I am, but because I can't show you the super amazing hoop trick I'm doing without my belly roll showing. There's nothing wrong with posting flattering shots, but if I post a carefully curated, edited version of myself online, I'm not posting the real me. I'm not a celebrity and I'm not running for president. The friends I have online are exactly that, my friends. Why would I want to try to pull one over on them or myself? So good for those incredibly fit people who are willing to show their "flaws." Good for them and thank you for being real.

We could all take a lesson from them to be brave and be yourself—belly rolls and all.

Shelli Mosteller (MOSTMOM1) has been a SparkPeople member since 2010 and currently resides in just outside of Cincinnati. On her journey to weight loss, she's experienced all the highs and lows but always manages to find the silver lining. She loves interacting with the SparkPeople Community, which she finds is full of encouraging, motivating, positive people. Married with two young adult children plus Chubbs the Immortal Guinea Pig and Bubba the English Bulldog, Shelli also works full-time as a creative arts pastor for her church.

Do these "real progress" photo series motivate you in your weight-loss journey? 

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fantastic blog thank you for being so honest I love it

and no I would not post these photos I do not like to post any photos at all Report
Wonderful blog, Shelli Report
Thanks for sharing. Report
Yes it does motivate me and I'm also going to take a pic of myself and put it on Spark People to show my flaws and be brave enough to do it, Thanks!!! :) Report
Great article!! Thanks!!! Report
Shelli, you did it again. Great blog and you really hit the nail on the head. The one time I tried out a studio weight loss program, the staffer insisted I stand for my before photo full on. I never made it to the after photo as I realized the company was into pre-PhotoShop photo "editing". I'd send you a basket of googly eyes if I had them. Report
WOW great Report
Excellent thanks!!😁 Report
I love the brave, real you! Report
Thank you for sharing the real you! Report
I see "flawed" people doing the hard work every day Report
I only take real photos because my kids will want to have pictures of me after I go. Otherwise, no photos at all. Fat shaming is real, it's in, and it's the only type of discrimination that doesn't have a law prohibiting it. I hate even walking outside because some idiot in a car will make stupid comments while I'm out. Report
Awesome Report
Good article Report
Such a great reminder to not look at someone elses shot of them at their high point ; and then turn and compare it to ourselves at our low point. We just need to keep on going down the right path, it really doesn't matter where someone else is at in their journey... Report
I need to learn to love myself and not work toward an impossible goal for my body. Today I've learned to listen to my body Report
"The same person that has a killer six pack probably has a few rolls when they sit down." --- if they have a "killer six pack" what is there to roll?

In my opinion: If you're "hating" on the image(s) of another, it's not them, it's you. Look at yourself, if you don't like what you see than change it. If you are happy, then you don't need to make excuses on why you do not look like "them." Report
I definitely need to learn to love my curves more. Report
Great picture. Love your article Report
Appreciate the information Report
You are truly beautiful "as is!" Report
This was an important message. Ironically, it comes at a time when I have just started wearing clothes that aren't designed to hide my shape. I even bought spandex pants and have worn them in public despite the fact they don't leave ANYTHING to the imagination. Report
Great article! Report
Great article! Report
Go, girl! Report
Good on you! Report
Great article!! Report
Awesome are inspiring! Report
What a great reminder to love ourselves regardless. Report
I like this keeping it real! Report
Awesome article!!! Report
Thanks for writing this article Shelli. I just love your blogs too. They are always upbeat and often mischevious. They have lifted me out of the blues many times. I'm sorry to don't have any googly eyes to add to this post! LOL Report
Congratulations. You are inspiring to others. Report
It would be great if more people (including celebrities and magazine editors) felt this way! Report
Thanks for the article, I really enjoy all of Shelli's blogs, every one of them, they brighten my day and keep me going! Report
nicely said Report
Yes it does because it's real and not fake, Thanks for sharing and inspiring me. Have an awesome weekend!!! :) Report
I just adore Shellie's blogs. I enjoy everyone of them. You make me smile all the time. Thank you. Report
I think I have read this article before. No matter. It's a great reminder Report
Excellent blog! I would like to think that Spark People is listening to its members and featuring more realistic people in its articles and blogs. I've noticed several recently, and it is heartening!! Report
Great blog!! Thank you for your insight!

Well said! I love this!! Report
Great blog Shelli! I never thought of the before and after pictures from this point of view. Thought provoking. Report
I appreciate your comments Report
Yeah! Well said, Shelli! Love it. Report
Thanks... Report