Picture the typical before and after photo. Usually, on the left stands someone in a bikini. On the right is that same person in the same bikini, but this time, they're thinner and more muscular. The implication, of course, is that the progression is an improvement. One woman, however, is turning that notion on its head with her own version of before and after photos, which show that being thin doesn't automatically mean you're happy — and being fat doesn't mean you're unhappy.
Allison Kimmey, an author, speaker, and self-described "swimwear and plus fashion lover," runs an Instagram account popular for its body positive messages. This summer, her response to her daughter calling her "fat" went viral as an example of how to explain fatness to children without the usual negative connotations. But a quick scroll through her Instagram page shows that she's far more than an online one-hit wonder. Kimmey often posts photos comparing her past and current selves to make a point: She's happier now than she was when she was a few sizes smaller.
"What you see here is so much MORE than a physical change. Weight gain and loss do not and NEVER WILL equal happiness," she wrote in July alongside two photos of herself in the same yellow bikini. "When I consistently made heart centered choices the pounds and inches didn't matter any more."
As she puts it, Kimmey is a "few sizes bigger and a million times happier" these days. In late June, she wrote that she saw "one too many transformation Tuesday photos of a grumpy fat woman turning into a happy thin woman" and decided to post one of her own. "I looked back at my own journey and realized it happened to be exactly the opposite of what we are taught to believe," she wrote in the caption.
Kimmey echoed the sentiment to BuzzFeed a few months later, telling the web site that after 15 years of trying to achieve the "perfect before and after photo," she realized she was happiest when she didn't care about her weight.
Now, Kimmey can be found celebrating her body on Instagram, where she posts about motherhood, fashion, and body acceptance. Needless to say, there are plenty of bikini pics to be found.
"The pounds come and go. The minutes don't," she explained in one caption.
The body positive movement may be growing, but fat stigma is a strong part of Western culture. Children are taught from a young age to see weight as an indicator of self-control; fatness, therefore, is undesirable. Given all of the conditioning we've had as a society, it will take years of speaking out to change the way fatness is viewed in society and untie it from the toxic narrative it has with worth.
That's where people like Kimmey, who embrace their bodies and encourage others to do so as well, come in. To read her messages for yourself, head over to her Instagram page.