Celebrities, weight loss DVDs and the dangers of "before pictures"


Trigger warning: this post discusses body image at some length and contains screenshots of some implied and blatant fatphobic comments

Like it or not, I am the kind of person that enjoys the social media accounts of a certain type of reality television celebrity.

The Kardashian-Jenners are my icons; last night I had a dream I met Kylie Jenner and she invited me to be her flatmate. It was the best. I have a Kim Kardashian calendar hanging above my bed, which is the last thing I look at before I go to sleep and the first thing I look at in the morning.

But then if the impossibly glamorous Kardashians are my icons, I feel like people that have been on TOWIE and Geordie Shore and Made in Chelsea are my friends. How I love to watch cheaply made British reality television! My family's favourite programme is I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here - my mum choreographed a dance to the theme tune that we perform together excitedly at the start of each episode. I love reading Heat magazine, I love catching up with what these people are doing on Twitter, I buy the stuff they endorse. People have a lot of difficulty coming to terms with the fact I'm an educated woman and enjoy all these things - I'm relentlessly patronised for it by all sorts of people in my life - but I DO NOT CARE.

So it goes without saying I follow all of these sorts of people on Instagram.

That's where it begins to get ugly.


I am not thin. I feel like I'm boring people even writing this, as it's so boring in my own head, because very often it is all I think about, every hour of my life. I love to eat, and I love food, but I have a warped relationship with it, because I have a love/hate relationship with my own body. Over the past 5 years I've been everything between a size 10 and a size 16, and I go up and down, up and down, up and down all the time with no particular sense of direction. Sometimes I look in my mirror, I see my small waist and big hips and I think - wow, you look so great, you're so lucky to have a figure like this! Sometimes I look in my mirror and see nothing but a hideous troll. Sometimes I have to go a whole day avoiding mirrors.

This is what some days are like being me: I probably wish I was thinner about three times an hour. This is a huge improvement on where I was when I was about 21/22, when I used to wish it every single second. Me "wishing I was thinner" can sometimes be a passing thought that only stays a few seconds - oh, how nice it would be if I could wear those jeans and look that good - and sometimes, luckily, not anywhere near as often as it used to, a spiral of darkness into a very horrible place where I am the most disgusting person that has ever existed and it takes hours and hours to recover.

The thing is, though, much as though sometimes it can feel like it, my body image issues don't define me, and I have all these other interests too! I love reality TV and pop music and social media and clothes and make-up and I'm always checking my various feeds to see what people have posted.

One thing that a lot of these types of reality TV celebrities have in common is that they all seem to get weight loss DVDs out all the time. Therefore, they're always on the promo trail for them. Relentlessly.

However, the promo for these DVDs is literally aimed at getting people to hate themselves.


Let's have a look at a few.

Do you know how depressing it is, as someone who is miserable about their appearance for a good portion of their lives, to see a photo that reminds you of what you look like held up as a "before" picture? To see a version of yourself as a starting point for a "constant battle"?

Alright girlies, I guarantee a couple of you are feeling really overwhelmed and hesitant at the prospect of starting a new diet or fitness regime this January! I totally get it! I have been there! But please don't worry... This is a selection of pictures of me throughout the year (January, August, December) and as you can see every body fluctuates- I try and exercise and eat right but sometimes things can get on top of you or pop up that make being really healthy and disciplined difficult like busy work schedules or christmas for example! With the help of @minivnutrition And a controlled diet I have managed to maintain a healthy weight and shape this year despite long hours, heaps of travel and my gin addiction! And it's so easy to incorporate it into your life... Head to www.minivnutrition.com to see what we're about! #miniv #minime #miniyou πŸ’›
A photo posted by Vicky Pattison (@vicky_gshore) on

"Every body fluctuates". Yes Vicky, that is correct. My body fluctuates to the extent I can be three different bra sizes in one month. My body fluctuates to the extent that one day I can be comfortable posting photos of myself in a bikini on the internet and the next day I perceive myself to look so overwhelmingly terrible in everything that I consider cancelling plans. My body fluctuates to the fact that I literally can't wear jeans most of the time as they don't really make jeans that fit my ginormous arse in that don't also gape at my waist. And I'm sure your body fluctuates too, Vicky. BUT WHY HAVE YOU CHOSEN TO ILLUSTRATE THIS BY POSTING THREE IDENTICAL PHOTOS OF OUR ABS THAT WE COULD ALL CARVE OUR CHRISTMAS TURKEYS ON?!?

A "better you".

Even in my darkest moments, I know that I would not be better if I was thinner. Things would just be easier. I would just be able to wear jeans if I wanted to. I would just be able to hang out with some of my female friends without thinking that everyone was looking at me thinking there's the fat one. 

If I was thin, I would still be great. I would still be funny and smart and kind. I would not be better.

I think at this point I've made my feelings clear about photos of the old you taking you back to a "bad place".

And we can't even just hold ourselves to one beauty standard at a time.

A photo posted by Lauren Goodger (@laurenrosegoodger) on
The absolute crowning glory of "hating-on-previous-self" posts. "Vile". Imagine being that size and reading that. Lauren Goodger thinks we are "vile".


I'm sick of it. And I'm an adult who likes to think she is quite well educated in terms of media manipulation and advertising techniques. Imagine being a thirteen year old Vicky Pattison fan and seeing that poisonous stuff on your timeline several times a week. Imagine what this is doing to these children out there! And this is just a tiny cross section of this all-purveying corner of the web. Kylie Jenner has been advertising teatoxes in her bikinis since she was 17; an ACTUAL CHILD.

 I ask you all, celebrities: are a few DVD or slimming pill sales really worth some teenager's self-worth? Presumably, from the words in your posts, you know how it feels to be this miserable. Why exacerbate this?

It makes me furious and there's nothing I can do.

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  1. Agree with this so much. Like you I enjoy all that reality TV, and generally used to enjoy following these people but using this toxicity to peddle products left right and center is so distasteful to me. I've unfollowed all three of them on that basis, and will continue to do so to anyone who projects those kinds of opinions out for the sake of making a few quid.