The model explains how those "before" photos on Instagram can be potentially damaging to those who struggle with eating disorders.

By Faith Brar
Updated: March 01, 2017

Iskra Lawrence is no stranger to before-and-after photos, emphasizing that she's healthier and happier after her eating disorder recovery. But recently, the 26-year-old model has been taking a different approach to her usual body-positive messages. She took to Instagram and posted an "after" selfie, but left out the "before." Instead, she replaced the image on the left with text that reads: "I am so much more than a 'before' photo. #BoycottTheBefore."

#BoycottTheBefore is a movement created by Instagram user and mental health advocate, Lexie (@soworthsaving) as a tribute to National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. While lots of people celebrate their ED recovery with photos of themselves "before" recovery and "after," Lexie says this might actually have a harmful effect on those still suffering.

"It reinforces a misconception that you can see who is struggling," Lexie adds, referring to the misconception that you have to be underweight to truly suffer from an eating disorder. She believes that this notion is perpetuated by the "before" pictures that often flood our Instagram feeds.

Lawrence mirrors similar emotions in her post, explaining how she also felt the need to share "before" photos to prove her progress. "I myself have felt the pressure to post before and after pics to validate that I too suffered," she writes, "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.'"

Lawrence also clarifies that she does not want to put down anyone who finds encouragement in transformation photos and uses them as a source of motivation, and says she will continue to post them herself.

"[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," she says. "I love seeing people celebrating how far they've come and totally get why (myself included) choose to post before and afters."

So while we don't expect to stop seeing these photos anytime soon, this convo is an important reminder that you can't diagnose an eating disorder based on a picture or the number on the scale.

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