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Fake Your “Transformation”

December 26, 2013

Weight LossDiet TalkExercise

Say, do you look at “Before and After” photos and tell yourself, “Wow, how amazing?”

Why don’t we look at one now:


Oh, amazing! What if I told you that this guy “transformed” in about an hour. Yeah, that’s right; and it isn’t even Photoshopped.

His name is Andrew Dixon and he is a personal trainer. He says he is upset with the fitness industry’s fake transformation and decided to do something about it:

I decided to take my own transformation photos to see what was possible with just a few easy tweaks. About six months ago I was around 185 pounds and about 16 percent body fat. I was feeling particularly bloated on the day, so I asked my girlfriend to take a before shot. I then shaved my head, face and chest and prepared for the after shot, which was about an hour after I took the before shot. I did a few push ups and chin ups, tweaked my bedroom lighting, sucked in, tightened my abs and BOOM! We got our after shot.

That’s it? Well shit, no wonder the fitness industry has “amazing” before and after photos — it’s an illusion. Personally, I never thought that these things might be faked. I mean, who would do that if their product truly worked? But now that I know, it kinda seems obvious. Why wouldn’t these companies do this?

Pretty much every other image that we see of celebrities or people have been screened and/or altered in some way: magazines, TV shows, movies, ads. There is quite a lot of money involved in the fitness business; Beachbody’s product P90X has made nearly $200 million alone. So the next time you see a “before and after,” ask yourself what did that photographer do to make that person look better. 

Bonus: All over those two Huffington Post articles — to the sides, on the bottoms and also the suggested articles — there are “transformation” photos and articles like “Kim On Her Way to Regaining Figure” and “EXCLUSIVE: Spencer Matthews and his kangaroo diet!” (Kangaroos? Well I guess they could be tasty…)

Kitsune Yokai

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Twistie permalink
    December 26, 2013 10:09 am

    I actually figured out a lot of those ‘before and after’ pics were bogus when I was a kid reading my mom’s women’s magazines back in the seventies.

    Every one had a couple ads in the back for some miracle weight loss pill, potion, or exercise machine complete with before and after photos of a satisfied customer. What’s more, they posted the measurements alongside the pics.

    In each and every one of them, the before picture showed the woman standing at a slump, head down, shoulders hunched, and frowning with her hair in her face facing the camera. Every after picture showed that same woman in a side view standing on her tip-toes, hair carefully styled, fully made up, grinning like a loon. Even my eight-her-old eyes could see the ‘difference’ wasn’t about weight but mostly about stance and makeup.

    Oh, and the absolute dead giveaway? In the after picture, the woman was always about an inch taller and her bust measurement had increased.

    But I do have to admit I would have had a harder time working out how the ‘after’ look was achieved in this set beyond the massive manscaping. I’m glad Andrew Dixon is letting people know the truth about this dishonest practice.

    • Nof permalink
      December 26, 2013 10:12 am

      Yeah, I figured those before-and-after shots out young as well, or at least noticed the explicit trickery in having the before shot be of an unhappy, poorly groomed person and the after shot be an ecstatic, professional-hair-and-makeup’d person. Even going from flats to heels can make someone seem much thinner!

  2. Nof permalink
    December 26, 2013 10:10 am

    It reminds me of makeup before-and-after shots. Nothing has really changed, except what we’re shown and how we’re shown it.

  3. December 27, 2013 10:46 am

    Another way to tell the fake after-shots is the use of the same Bikini! “I lost FOUR dress sizes and a total of 57 INCHES!!” But she still fits in the same black bikini without an inch of looseness. Photoshop is a weight-loss company’s friend. Bestest friend! Sometimes, it’s not the after shot that’s faked…. but the BEFORE shot!

    “Miss Slendera Glamour” writes in to the weight loss company to praise their product [wink, wink] and low and behold, she actually thought to take a random, standing all alone – in all her love-handled, muffin-top glory – photo of herself on Day 1. Imagine that.
    Yes, the picture seems to be oddly unfocused, and a little bit out of proportion somehow, but that’s her! Big, big, big!

    Susan Powter (the Stop the Insanity! guru) was outed (by her own embittered brother) for using a very much altered, widely-stretched and zoomed (fuzzy) photo of herself for the “before” shot; in which she claimed she weighed “over 260 lbs”. [gasp!]
    Never mind she’s like 6’2″ or something, and in the picture you’d think she was over 400 lbs… (I remember this all very well, because I was, at that time, a Susan Powter ‘fan’)… But anyway-
    Her brother said she was *never* -ever- that heavy, and *never* looked like that photo.
    Powter had a very weak, half-assed clarification and some smooth backpedaling moves to counter her brother’s claim. Within months of this revelation, Susan Powter was about as hot as a luke-warm lemonade, and about as sour. It was over.
    So before pictures are just as likely faked as the after shots…

  4. gingeroid permalink
    December 30, 2013 8:56 pm

    Penn & Teller’s Bullshit referenced this on one of their episodes. Another strategy is to use an injured athlete as their model. The before is taken while they’re unable to train and have gained weight. The after shot is taken after they’ve started working out again and returned to their set point. I think it was Exercise vs. Genetics from season 2.

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