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In the past two years, Simone Anderson has lost over 196 lbs. She has been posting her weight-loss journey on Instagram, inspiring many people to begin journeys of their own.
But not everyone is so supportive. Others are calling Anderson a fake.
She recently told the U.K.’s Independent:
I only ever tried to be as honest as possible,” she said. “From day one, I showed the good, the bad, and the ugly of extreme weight loss.
”I exposed my skin, I showed every stretch mark, every little bit of sagging to the world.
“To have people come back and tell me that I’m faking it was hard because I wasn’t pleasing everyone.”
Anderson also spoke to the Daily Dot about how the comments have affected her. “At first, they really got me down and I would play them over and over in my head,” she said. “Now I may read them and just think I know what I have done, I know what I have achieved, and no one can take that away from me.”
Anderson isn’t alone in having to defend her weight loss. Another Instagram fitness celebrity, Kayla Itsines, regularly posts before and after pictures of dramatic weight-loss transformations of people inspired by her workout app. Many of the comments often nitpick the pictures, accusing the women of digitally altering their photos, by pointing out tattoos or moles that seem to be missing.
So if you didn’t already see…. this is what’s making news. “30 second transformation photos”. So I did one myself…. but not for the reason you think. I think this can send a strong, positive and powerful message. I’ll tell you why. 👊 I don’t know what girls are trying to prove by doing this, maybe it’s the whole “don’t flex all the time” thing, but this is what I think. At the end of the day, it’s not about what you LOOK LIKE on the outside, it’s what you FEEL on the inside. Physical change and being strong and fit is important, yes. However, being healthy, happy and confident is actually the most important thing. You don’t have to prove ANYTHING to anyone by the way you look. You don’t have to push your stomach out, make your legs look bigger or stand a certain way to look “bad” to try and make your transformation better. Honestly, every single photo and transformation is amazing. But that happiness won’t last as long as the happiness of health and confidence. Faking a progress photo (or exaggerating one) is only going to poorly affect your mindset. All the BBG community are amazing because they are strong, healthy women… and women are amazing. They have worked DAMN hard to get where they want to be physically and mentally, so they don’t have to prove to anything to anyone. You can be real with your followers, of course, but don’t try and make yourself look bad to prove a point. Who cares if you have had a bad eating day, you look bloated, you have your period, you have a ‘food baby’… it doesn’t matter. If you FEEL good about yourself on the inside and you LOVE and accept yourself and are PROUD of what you have achieved, then that’s all you need. Post a photo of your body and be proud. Don’t try to overstate your appearance. You should be telling the world how much better you FEEL! Add a big smile in that photo. You don’t need to show anyone how you can stand a special way and look amazing, YOU ALWAYS LOOK AMAZING! Please understand this. People are inspired by YOU because you inspire them with your ATTITUDE towards life. It doesn’t MATTER what you look like…. because your real beauty ….shines from within. ✅ www.kaylaitsines.com/app
A photo posted by Kayla Itsines (@kayla_itsines) on
And viewers are right to be skeptical. An article from the BBC in March 2015 exposes how before and after shots are often manipulated with lighting, improved posture, and nicer clothes. A viral video from 2012 shows how one fitness guru made himself go from fab to flab in under five hours.
However, the hate in social media comments often gets out of hand, especially when it comes to women and their bodies. A woman must be faking it if she meets Western beauty standards—and if she doesn’t, she’s a fat, unattractive troll.
Anderson, for her part, insists her transformation is real, and she has the pictures to prove it.
Still, the haters keep on hating. Anderson told the Independent, “Throughout my whole journey, I have tried to be so honest about the whole experience and tell people it exactly as it’s happened, so to be called a fake hurt a lot.”
Update 4:00pm CT, May 25: Updated to include Anderson’s comments to the Daily Dot.
Lyz Lenz is currently the managing editor of the Rumpus. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Jezebel, the Columbia Journalism Review, and Mashable.