Entertainer and business mogul Jessica Simpson has always been incredibly candid about the pressures of being in the spotlight and her body image struggles, not least in her memoir and on social media. However, her recent bikini selfie, which she used as a jumping point to discuss her change in weight, has been met with a mixed response.
Sharing a photo of herself in a pink paisley bikini (from her own collection), Jessica told her 5.9 million followers that she was proud of the 'hard work' she's put in to lose weight and reach a place where she feels comfortable and happy in swimwear.
"I have gained and lost 100lbs [three times] so I never thought this moment could or would happen, but I'm finally spring breakin' wearin' a BIKINI!!!!!! Hard work, Determination, Self Love," she wrote, alongside adding that she had 'enjoyed a good proud cry today 💪🏼☀️💛'.
Many were quick to praise Jessica and agreed that she's absolutely entitled to post about her personal journey and weight loss on her own social channels. Others remarked that they were inspired by hearing her story, too.
"I’m trying to get the baby weight off but he’s almost 3 😭 great inspiration 🥰," wrote one follower. A second added, "❤️🔥👏 Amazing accomplishment – not just the weight but the self confidence. Love to see it! And you look great!!"
A third replied, "Beautiful 🔥. I am so inspired by you… your sobriety, your hard work in the gym, your business acumen, and most of all your devotion to your family ❤️"
Other social media users, however, pointed out that the post could be construed as portraying Jessica as a victim, or perpetrator, of diet culture and of promoting body type 'ideals' – which can often push the damaging and untrue narrative that the smaller a body is, the more worthy of love and respect it is.
"You can also wear a bikini if you are 100lbs heavier, because it should not matter your size," wrote one person in response to Jessica's picture. Another replied saying, "You can wear anything at any size, every body is beautiful."
A third person commented with, "Did you know… people who weigh 100 pounds more than you can and will also wear a bikini? 🙄"
Others implied that Jessica had achieved her 'glow-up' through surgery, or pointed out that having the means to afford a personal trainer can make it easier to implement a diet and exercise routine to aid with weight loss (should that be your goal). Again, suggesting her post wasn't especially helpful.
To this, one person responded in contrast with: "So sad that instead of lifting her up (even a celebrity) people feel the need to pick her apart. People…. other than celebrities… have cosmetic work (myself included). Good for her for talking about it and inspiring others. Do what makes you happy. I can’t imagine taking the kind of criticism these celebrities do. You go girl!!"
All in all, Jessica's bikini post – which is just one of many millions of bikini shots on IG in general – appears to have started a much deeper discussion around whether or not 'before and after' or 'weight loss reveal' photos still have a place and purpose in 2022.
While it's certainly food for thought, it's probably not something we'll ever find there's a definitive black and white answer to across the board – meaning ultimately the best thing any of us can do is to set our own personal boundaries with regards to the sort of social media content we consume. If seeing pictures like this appear on your feed leaves you feeling unhappy or triggered, there's absolutely nothing wrong with smashing that unfollow button (and if you are worried about your own relationship with your body, it's always best to book in for a chat with your GP, open up to a loved one or contact an expert organisation, such as Beat, for support).
But, equally, if you find that viewing photos labelled as weight loss 'afters' leaves you feeling happy and motivated, be it to adopt a healthy lifestyle or make positive changes in your own world, than that shouldn't be something to feel ashamed of either. As with anything, it's about personal choice – and the best personal choice you can ever make it one that keeps you feeling healthy and joyful.
Beat is the UK's leading charity dedicated to helping people with eating disorders. If you or someone you know is struggling and want to seek help, call their helpline on 0808 801 0677 or visit their website for more details.
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