Like any form of revenge, the revenge body might hurt you more than the person you're targeting (in this case, your ex). Getting in shape is great, but exercising, dieting and depriving out of spite for an ex is not.
If you need reasons why getting fit and posting pictures of your new body to make your ex feel bad is not worth your time, then keep reading:
1. It won't actually help you get over your ex.
If your ex's name echoes in your head with every step on the treadmill, or bite of some flavorless, low-calorie health food, you're not getting over them. Instead of trying to move on, you are thinking about the ex more than you need to.
Working out after a breakup can be mentally and emotionally healthy, but only if it's for your own personal growth.
2. It's not a good look on social media.
Whether it's for revenge or not, posting too many pictures on social media showing off your body is annoying. People will unfollow you, and some of them might even be your close friends.
The revenge body exacerbates this problem because many of the people who follow you will know about the breakup. You have to risk showing them you are not over your ex before the intended target sees the pictures. Is that really worth it?
After seeing nothing but pictures of your body, people might think that's all you have to offer. And we both know you're worth so much more than that.
3. It can attract unwanted attention.
When people post revenge body photos, they are casting a wide net on social media. The goal is to drag out the ex, but the net is too large to avoid bringing others along for the ride. People who post revenge body photos aren't necessarily asking for attention, but they do risk attracting unwanted responses.
Therapist Candice Christiansen has had several female clients who tried the revenge body tactic, and regretted it because of unintended consequences. Christiansen said:
While they reported they loved having a sexy body and getting a lot of attention at first, they also reported they didn't like feeling like a sex object, getting unwarranted attention from men, being treated as competition by women and at times, based on their looks, being misperceived as a slut, or shallow.
4. It probably won't work.
There's a possibility the photos will not even reach your ex. You could post an entire revenge body Facebook album, and it won't matter if your ex has unfollowed you.
Let's say your ex does see at least one picture of your transformed body. They might comment, making it obvious they saw it and are thinking about you, or maybe you'll cross paths a few times. But what guarantees all of this will make them miss you?
Depending on their personality, motivations and reasons for breaking up, they might not feel as crummy as you intended. They might feel uncomfortable, or pity you for obsessing over them. Maybe they won't care or even notice. Perhaps they ghosted you once the breakup was over.
“In my personal and professional life, I've never seen the revenge body achieve its primary goal: winning back the ex, or creating jealousy,” said dating coach Jonathan Bennett, who has seen many clients through breakups and their aftermaths.
5. If it does work, you won't accomplish anything.
Let's imagine your revenge body plan works well, to the point where you are sure your ex is feeling like crap. You've verified the impact of your hard work.
What are you gaining from this? Does it improve your life in any way? The satisfaction of revenge might not be proportional to the many hours you spent working out and dieting.
6. It's not the right way to win someone back.
Sometimes people use the revenge body to convince their ex to ask them if they want to restart the relationship. This strategy isn't as foolproof as it may seem.
The main function is to shove questions in the ex's face, such as, “Don't you want to be the only one who can touch my new body? Don't you want it back? Doesn't it upset you to know someone else could be touching it?” If this works, doesn't this only prove that the ex is shallow?
Your body should not be the deciding factor in whether or not someone wants to be in a committed relationship you. Anyone worth dating will believe character is more important.
7. It can drag you back into a terrible relationship.
Life coach Nina Rubin worked with a client who lost weight after a breakup because of the effects of depression and anxiety. This client then decided to capitalize on the weight loss, and develop a revenge body so she could revel in knowing her ex wanted her.
Rubin's client didn't want to get back together with her ex, but she wasn't prepared to resist the temptation. “I don't think she was happier for it,” Rubin said. He responded to some of the alluring pictures she posted online, telling her she looked great.
As a result, the two of them had several flings, but all of them ended badly. This only reminded her of why the relationship fell apart. “It left her feeling like the breakup was happening all over again,” Rubin said.
Because people who develop a revenge body are still emotionally attached to their ex, and most likely did not have a healthy relationship or breakup, posting pictures of their new body can present more risks than anticipated. It can be a portal back to the pain that prompted the revenge body.
8. Unhealthy social media use and excessive dieting is linked to mental health issues.
Unhealthy use of social media (especially after a breakup) can deteriorate a person's mental health, and make people more vulnerable to mental illnesses, such as depression. The revenge body is no exception, and research shows similar forms of social media use can exacerbate body dysmorphia (perceiving the body as flawed, or worse than it is).
For people who are already vulnerable/unstable after a breakup, the revenge body can easily go too far, and lead to mental illnesses such as anorexia and bulimia. People who already suffer from these illnesses should be especially cautious of the revenge body.
9. The revenge body might not be empowering.
People such as Khloe Kardashian — who further popularized the revenge body trend — have claimed the revenge body is “empowering,” particularly for women. This depends on how you define empowerment.
If women want more motivation to workout and eat healthier following a breakup, the revenge body can be empowering by pushing them harder than they pushed themselves during the relationship.
Therapist Kathryn Gates described it as an example of sublimation: using negative energy for positive outcomes. It is an opportunity for women to give themselves more time and attention to themselves that can be empowering, according to Gates. If one lets go of the desire for revenge and adopts positive motivations, this can eventually be a healthy approach.
On the other hand, the revenge body risks reinforcing the idea that a woman's worth comes only from her body. It also encourages women to conform to narrow-minded standards of what is physically attractive, and craft part of their self-worth based on what others (often men) think. And that is not empowering.
Earning a fit body after a breakup can be positive, but it does not make you a better person than you were before. Self-improvement transcends the physical.
Working out more after a breakup is different than a revenge body. It's healthy, and is part of an effective coping strategy that can help you heal after a bad relationship.
“I find many clients treated themselves rather poorly when they were unhappy in a relationship, and realized their lack of focus on their physical well-being once the relationship ended,” said therapist Keeley Teemsma.
These clients then resolve to focus more on self-care, eating healthier and exercising more. This often helps them regain a sense of control they lost during the unhappy relationship, according to Teemsma. It can happen as part of a mentally healthy coping strategy, or a result of the revenge body (although the former is preferable).
It's more beneficial if this exercise and healthy eating is part of "overall self-improvement" following a breakup, according to therapist Toni Coleman. Developing a fit body due to negative intentions isn't the worst outcome, but starting with a positive attitude and going beyond the physical is better for your mental health.
“Working on being the best they can be, pursuing a passion, learning something new and learning and growing from the loss itself are all ways they can be successful, which is, indeed, the best revenge,” Coleman said.
This approach allows you to move on without obsessing over your ex, or taking any of the aforementioned risks. The revenge body isn't worth it, but focusing on self-care, and improving your life after a breakup, most definitely is.