Health

This Teenager's Before and After Proves Weight Doesn't Define Beauty Standards

A self-described fitness enthusiast from Georgia is reminding people that body goals are whatever you want them to be, in a post with over 32,000 likes for her powerful message.

Tatiana, who posts under haitianqveeen on Instagram, posted a before and after photo that is different from most before-and-after pics. Because in hers, Tatiana isn't proud of her weight loss, but her weight gain

"Same outfit. Different body. 3.5 months. Couldn't be anymore proud of myself," her June 24 post begins.

"On the left I was depressed, BARELY EATING, and extremely insecure," she writes. "I was losing alot [sic] of weight and made the choice to go on a weight gain journey. I was 5'9 And 120 lbs. I was considered underweight for my height."

While most before-and-afters celebrate weight loss, Tatiana is quick to call out any naysayers: "I couldnt care less if you think I shouldn't have gained weight because guess what? It's my body and the only thing that matters now is that I'm happy."

Tatiana's post shows how body acceptance and beauty standards are defined by the individual.

For her, she's happy at a higher weight. Her "before" isn't meant to shame anyone who looks like she did, but rather to show that what works best for her (weight gain) isn't what some would ascribe to a typical beauty standard. 

As she writes in another post, from June 21, her weight gain was a sign that her mental health was aligned with her physical health. "Throughout this journey I have gained my self confidence back and overcome my depression," she states.

"I lost myself last year. I was going through too many emotionally draining things at once and eventually I hit my breaking point and gave up on myself. I stopped caring about myself, everyone else around me, my education..everything. Instead I would just go days without eating and isolate myself in my room all day."

When she finally stepped on a scale and saw how much weight she lost, that's when she decided to change.

There are critics of before and after photos, in regards to the body positive movement.

Tiernan Hebron wrote for ATTN: in an op-ed she believes before-and-after photos can hurt the body positive movement because "they promote body comparisons." And there are those who look at Tatiana's photos and make snap judgments about which photo she looks better in—to them.

What Tatiana is saying is that others' opinions don't matter—this is for herself. She wasn't happy with how her body looked, and she made a change. It doesn't mean she thinks her previous body wasn't ideal—it just wasn't ideal for her. And her message is resonating with a lot of women, especially considering women aren't often encouraged to gain muscle, as one comment points out.

"I'm sooo glad I found your page!!!" bellamarieclark commented on Tatiana's photo. "I struggle with gaining weight myself. I'm 5'4" and about 110 pounds. Everyone tells me I look good even tho I'm skinny but I've always wanted to be bigger even tho people compliment me all the time [...] You're so beautiful and an inspiration to me!! Because like I said, even tho ppl compliment me on my body a lot, I'm not happy and that's what matters."