Have you ever seen an advertisement for a weight loss supplement with the before and after photos?
I won’t get into all the ways that marketing tries to deceive us. But I wanted to draw attention to the two falsehoods that seem to catch me up all the time, within this image.
1) The presentation only glamorizes success stories
2) The image clearly implies that the middle does not matter
I don’t believe these are the fault of the before and after photos. Rather I feel like they are the part of the human psyche that before and after photos feed on.
Why only glamorize your success stories? Or even more to the point, what is success? I had kids and I consider that a success in life. But if you were to judge by my before and after photos, you might question if I “Have it all.” My before and after photos are more the reverse of the standard marketing campaign.
Does this mean I’ve failed? Or does it mean I’m looking at the wrong metric?
Even the language I’m using here is really diving deep into a false perception of value. The idea that there are a set of metrics by which I should be measured. While our culture is very clear that there are a set of metrics to measure a man, this is a bold face lie. It’s a lie that’s so ingrained that even after identifying it’s falsehood over and over again I find myself standing in front of a mirror looking me over with a measuring stick in hand (figuratively).
This leads to the second major falsehood this image illustrates, that the middle doesn’t matter. Life is all about the middle. It’s all about the process and the stages in between, it is not about the end and the beginning. If it was, we would sum up peoples lives with a photo montage including only two images. One would be the egg and sperm meeting for the first time. The second image would be a picture of a coffin. Before and After, end of story, finished done.
No! Life is about the middle.
Life is about all those amazing and frustrating things that happen to us while we’re on the path. You can’t sum up success or failure with two images. You can’t judge a person by a selfie. An image trapped in a specific moment in time when you may, or may not, have been having a good hair day.
Remember in your life, things will get better.
Remember in your life, things will get worse.
You’re in a dance, not sitting through a presentation.
Polish up your dancing shoes and get out there, you’ve got a world to see.