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“Weight loss gallery shows slimmers’ beautiful features that were there all along.”
This was posted today (Dec. 15) by The Daily Mail UK on Snapchat. Essentially, the “story” here is that all these people who have lost weight have discovered their “beautiful features” that were hidden beneath “excess padding.”
The article attempts to make this a body-positive story by pointing out how confident these people appear in the “after” photos, insisting that the weight loss wasn’t just a physical improvement but an emotional one as well.
I can support that as I recognize the confidence issues someone might have if they’re not comfortable in their own body. I also recognize that there is certainly a possibility of experiencing newfound confidence after significant weight loss (or any weight loss, or personal change, for that matter, if that’s the “change” the individual is seeking).
Here’s where my support absolutely ends for this article. Can we talk about that headline? “…slimmers’ beautiful features that were there all along.” It’s slightly misleading isn’t it? It almost sounds like this will be an article describing personal beauty in every person, no matter what shape or size, and insisting that while it’s great these people have achieved the weight loss they worked so hard for, their beauty is not something new that has come as a result of that weight loss. They were beautiful before, and they’re beautiful now.
Instead the article includes a gallery of before and after pictures of people who have undergone weight loss for the purpose of proving how much “better” their faces look now that they’ve shed those pounds. Essentially, these people are only considered beautiful AFTER the weight loss, certainly not before.
I honestly couldn’t believe I was reading this. No, Daily Mail is certainly not a well regarded, reliable, or serious news source by any means. Quite often their versions of “news” includes bad tattoos, misspelled signs, or poorly chosen haircuts. Hardly the hard-hitting stuff one might be after.
So it shouldn’t be so shocking that this terrible media company would put out something like this. But it still caught me by surprise. Are we not at a point yet as a society where we can embrace people of all shapes, sizes, and colors without deeming one better than the others? Why put out this content insisting that people must lose weight to be beautiful? Have we not positively obliterated this archaic and disgusting way of thinking yet?
This story made be absolutely furious. You're shown all these amazing people who should have been congratulated for their weight loss because of how difficult it must have been, and for their courage in keeping with it and achieving the results they wanted. Instead it turned into a gallery of before and after pictures we’re meant to look at and say, “Oh yes, she’s so much prettier without all that extra poundage.”
Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting.
Snapchat is easily accessible by anyone, children included. Some young girl might read this and believe she’ll only be “beautiful” if she loses weight. Do they not realize the influence they have, and the responsibility they have as a source of news? They're promoting body dysmorphia and essentially conveying the message that fat is ugly, thin is beautiful.
There was a particular quote I pulled from this article that I feel is especially troubling:
“Hidden cheekbones and delicate facial structures emerge while double chins disappeared and blemishes caused by bad diet were replaced by a healthy glow.”
Do I honestly have to point out that weight is not always attributed to poor health and bad eating habits? Must I remind Daily Mail that you can be perfectly healthy and still be overweight? And honestly, “delicate features”? As though if your cheekbones aren’t protruding from your face then you’re some sort of ugly, inelegant being? Come on now.
One of the captions on the before and after pictures read: “shedding 300lbs in just 18 months brought out this woman’s eyes and got rid of her chins.” This one isn’t even about weight loss. She had those lovely eyes before, she’ll certainly have then after. This was just a chance to make a terrible dig at her “chins.”
I want to make it clear that I wholeheartedly support these people in their weight loss. One of the men featured is quoted (hopefully correctly) as having found motivation in seeing the changes weight loss made to his face. Which is fantastic. He saw the results he wanted and discovered motivation in pursuing more changes he felt were positive. Good for him!
Except nowhere in his quote, or any other quotes from any other person in this gallery, does it say they think they are only beautiful now after having lost the weight. Not one of them are quoted as citing their weight loss as the key to being “beautiful.” This article is the one saying that. And I think it is absolutely, 100% irresponsible journalism to put that kind of disgusting message out into the world.
Let's talk about responsible journalism then, yes? First of all, I think I'm being quite generous in calling whatever Daily Mail puts out "journalism." But for the sake of my argument, let's pretend they're journalists.
Journalism is comprised of a number of standards and ethics. As a journalist, you must consider the voice you have. You are the mouthpiece between what happens and who should know. There is a certain responsibility then to produce content which is of importance and of interest to the reader. More importantly, you must understand that what you say will be consumed by however many people comprise your audience.
I don't know who green lighted this story at Daily Mail, but I'm positive it must have been someone with absolutely zero regard for their responsibility as a journalist, the writer included. This could have been an uplifting, inspiring story about incredible weight loss. Instead it was an absolute garbage piece about how beauty is a number on the scale, and if you want to be considered beautiful then you must change everything about yourself.
Shame on you, Daily Mail. That's all I can truly say.