Before and After Photos…
I was reading in a leisure report that the number one reason that people cite for selecting a diet program is before and after pictures. Apparently just about ever diet program on earth is aware and has these ubiquitous pictures. Mind you that was last years number one reason. I am willing to bet that the current number one reason is the word Abs somewhere in the diet, but that is a subject for tomorrow’s blog post.
I have always been aware that before and after pictures are very easy to fake. They used to be quite fuzzy and blurry and you could never be sure that the person in the before pictures was the same person in the after picture. Of course with the improvements in technology, the imagesclearly had to get better. With better technology though, the methods to fake the shots have gotten better as well.
Even knowing that most of the pictures are faked in one way or another, I was surprised to hear of some of the methods employed to get before and after pictures. Like everyone in my generation, and judging from the sheer volume of people signing up for the most ridiculous and corrupt diet plans out there, everyone in this generation too, I expect some kernel of honesty in advertising. After all, they can’t out and out lie can they?
Well they can, they will and they do. I always thought it was the line in the diet ad that said, ‘”Participants also exercised regularly, and ate a reduced-calorie diet.” that allowed them to say whatever they wanted. After all, if you exercise regularly and you eat a calorie reduced diet you are going to lose weight, whatever the crappy diet plan or exercise machine you put in the middle of that is. Apparently though, it is the line “Results not typical” that opens up the door to the lying. There is a funny article about the Federal Trade Commision and the changes that they want to make to that line here.
So what are the scams involved with before and after pictures:
- The after picture before and vice versa. When fit people get injured or forced to take a break from their significant physical output, they tend to put on weight and they do this very quickly. Because, for most of us, weight gain is slow and we aren’t used to quick weight gain a reasonably believable before and after picture can be generated by taking a picture at the time of reduced activity, and then one two or three months later, when the person has put on 30 or 40 pounds. Switch the order of the two photos and you have effectively created the illusion of weight loss.
- Fit Person Gets Healthy. This one is my favorite. It didn’t dawn on me, because, like number #1, It involves fit people and I am not one of the fit people, so I wasn’t aware people could do this. After fit people get sick, or pregnant, or injured, they of course get fat. The thing is, as soon as they get well again, they drop the weight like you wouldn’t believe. They would drop this weight no matter what they were doing. So, find a fit person who is out of commission and has bulked up and you have a before and after picture just waiting to happen. Give them some stupid exercise device and you have your before and after photos.
- Swap. This was the one of my youth. The people in the before and after photos are just good look-alikes (sometimes not so good). Many times nowadays, they don’t photograph the face of the person so it would be impossible to know if the two people are the same, but odds are they aren’t.
- See yourself slimmer… There is a fantastic article here about the world of digital thinning scams. It is absolutely amazing how far most of these scam sites go and how good a job they do. With a website that digitally slims photos for anyone for $40, really it is just too easy to pull this off. For an extra ten bucks they will take out wrinkles, spots, shine, red eye and bags and strangely enough for $8 more they will send you a tape measurer?!?!!
- Look your worst/look your best. This isn’t so much of a scam as good photography planning. How you stand, how you stick out your gut, etc, how you do all of this and more to make yourself look fat, tired and pale in your before picture and how you do it all differently in your after photo can make you look 20 to 30 pounds different. There is a cute little article here that tells you how to make your own before and after photo on the same day. Give it a shot and see how different you look and then decide if you will ever believe a before and after shot again.
- The Ab Circle Pro Scam: “It’s hard to believe that this was me, just a short time ago at over 200 pounds”. Of course what she isn’t saying is that she lost all of that weight before the exercise device was even invented. In fact, the writing above the video ‘success story’ says, ‘From Fat to Fit! Celebrity Jennifer Nicole Lee lost over 80 lbs. & uses the Ab Circle Pro!’. So the scam here is the loose connection the claims have to truth. There are no lies, but if you read the text quickly (or without examining it like a lawyer cross examining a criminal) you will certainly get the wrong idea. In fact only one of the ‘success stories’ from this slick infomercial actually says the person lost weight using the Ab Circle Pro… Only one!! I can go online and find hundreds of affiliates who claim that they lost weight using the Ab Circle Pro, some even before the product arrived…
- Someone will get fit doing anything. People are odd. There is always someone who will use the item or diet obsessively and lose weight. Think of Jared here. The guy lost weight going to a fast food restaurant every day. He went to the same restaurant and ate the same thing every day. The guy is clearly odd. He lost weight and Subway can now sell themselves as the ‘healthy’ fast food joint, even though many places, including McDonald’s have very healthy choices. McDonald’s gets ‘Supersize me’ and Subway gets Jared… So no matter how ridiculous it sounds, someone will lose weight doing it, the problem is, it probably won’t be you if it is a questionable diet plan. If they get before and after photos, you have a legitimate claim for your diet program.
So there are many of the before and after scams. I would love to hear others, just tell me about them in the comments sections. Otherwise, seriously, don’t believe before and after pictures. Never again. They are remarkably compelling, but they always employ the techniques above.