TLDR. Society is the problem, not the picture on the left.

In the picture on the left, I had just lost 70 lbs, down from my high of 210 lbs at only age 13, 5’2” tall. I was so happy. I felt BEAUTIFUL. I felt proud of my weight loss journey. And I saw not an ounce of fat. That pink jacket fit like a rockstar. I could wear juniors styles for the first time in ages. People would see me and my mom and finally see me as the child, not the larger parent. My cheeks were rosy and my smile shining.

The picture on the right is also beautiful. I am 27 in this photo, 5’7 and wise enough to know my weight doesn’t matter. I’m more than a number. My beauty on the right has absolutely nothing to do with fitting a societally accepted size. It has to do with the confidence in the woman posed for the camera.

But society told that preteen she was fat.

And fat was bad. And weight loss was good. Society showed that teen in small, probably unintentional ways that losing weight was good. Doctors shoved health under the more easily explained heading of weight loss because it was a clearer goal to offer.

And as a doctor, I admit doctors are wrong to do that.

Weight loss is never the goal. Because that smile is not from losing weight. That smile is from walking for the first time since an chronic illness; it’s from feeling confident in who I am as a new bat mitzvah; it’s from a feeling of health and joy, not at all from a number on a scale I didn’t even step on that week.

So let’s agree to stop congratulating weight loss.

Let’s stop evaluating beauty by a size standard – in my eyes, these before and after photos show two equally beautiful ladies.

And let’s emphasize the beauty in a healthy smile. (A dentist’s tooth plug 🦷)

Let’s celebrate confidence.

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