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Can a "Bad" Picture Boost Your Body Image?


The minute your phone pings with a new photo notification on Facebook, you may jump to do damage control and untag any embarrassing shots—but a growing online movement says you should make those images your profile pics.

Bad Picture Monday, which launched about two years ago, encourages women to take unflattering snapshots and, instead of pressing "delete," post them on social media for all their followers to see.

Sonya Renee TaylorSonya Renee Taylor (left, in one of her Bad Picture Monday posts), a performance poet and artist, first came up with the idea one Monday when she went to untag a photo that a friend had posted from the previous weekend. Taylor, who had founded the self-empowerment project The Body Is Not an Apology a few months before, realized how hypocritical it for her to promote body acceptance in her work but not to acknowledge an embarrassing snapshot.

“Instead of untagging the photo, I made it my profile picture and encouraged my Facebook friends to do the same,” Taylor recalls. Many in her network followed suit, and that simple act has since prompted thousands of women to post “bad” pictures every Monday on their social media sites.

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Embracing—instead of hiding—these not-so-flattering photos is a powerful step to a more positive body image for women and young girls, says Leslie Goldman, a Chicago-based body image expert and author of Locker Room Diaries. “As women, we face incredible pressure from society to look beautiful and put-together all the time,” she says. “We not only see idealized, airbrushed bodies on TV and in magazines, but we’re also inundated by the flattering, self-selected photos of friends and acquaintances as we constantly check our social media sites.”

Taylor’s grassroots campaign has garnered an impressive following (the Facebook group for The Body Is Not an Apology has more than 17,000 members) and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. “People tell me that it’s helped them recover from eating disorders by reminding them to love their bodies,” she says.

Goldman sees the movement as a beneficial step to empower women to accept their bodies, imperfecions and all. "A concept like Bad Picture Monday gives women a sense of camaraderie," she says. “It makes us realize that we're all in the same boat, and the way we look—without makeup, Spanx, or Photoshop—may not always be 'pretty.'”

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Taylor hopes to continue to inspire others to practice self-love rather than self-hatred, and it certainly seems to be working so far. As one member of the Body Is Not an Apology Facebook group writes, “As I’ve always struggled with weight, I had a habit of checking every single picture for a flaw. I would think, ‘Do my arms look strange? Will they notice how the dress clings too much there?’ But with the help of a community of people who have learned to love every part of themselves, I am well on the way to doing so myself.”

Katie Christianson shares her "morning face"
Mary Elkins poses for "Bad Picture Monday" 

Tell us below: Would you ever post a "bad" picture on your social networks to boost your body confidence? If so, try it this Monday and let us know how it goes!


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