There was a post on Facebook by my friend, the wonderfully vocal Kim Spencer from Crown Yourself, late last month that *really* stuck with me. She was posting about Embrace the documentary by Taryn Brumfitt and the founder of the Body Image Movement. Well, last week I finally got to see a screening of the documentary and I think I cried the whole time with how many moments the film actually hit home for me.
Taryn Brumfitt is an Australian mother of three, whose whole motivation behind The Body Image Movement was the perception her children will have of her, and of themselves or other women if she can’t even love her own body. The powerful message she spends 90 minutes going over in substantial detail comes down to finding out why women all over the world LOATHE some parts, if not all, of their bodies.
“I went through anxiety and depression from hating my body.” - Stefania Ferrario
Interviewing numerous women (Ricki Lake, Mia Freedman, Turia Pitt, Stefania Ferrario, Renee Airya, Jade Beall, Melinda Tankard Reist, The Bearded Dame) and showing statistics on screen (91% of women hate their bodies), she gives reason why “your body is not an ornament” and attempts to show why it’s “the vehicle to your dreams”.
There were several moments that struck a chord with me, but I think one of the most influential minutes of the film for me was when she interviewed (a mother in a red dress). She expresses the following sentiment:
“In an ideal world, I wouldn’t have to constantly play, uh whats the word? Damage Control. I feel like I’m putting out a thousand fires everyday… I’m drowning in a sea of media.”
Growing up, I think as early as age ten, I hated how large or round I was. I took note of how I had a 'kangaroo pouch' underneath my belly button. I noticed in the 4th grade that other girls my age had flatter tummies and i had a roll. That's when I believe it all started. Where I would cry to my mother and throw tantrums in the Limited Too in the mall because things were too tight and I wanted to leave, never to shop for clothing again. It didn't help my self esteem when I was put on Adkin's (even though I was being 'helped' by having someone manage my food intake and weight). I hate to "make my mother the bad guy", because she would see me cry and her heart was ultimately in the right place, but it was very apparent that I did not look like her when she "was my age"; that if I could "just stop eating us out of house and home", I could ignore her snide comments and be thin, pretty and happy. That I had a "pretty face"... being thin became a vessel of which I constantly sought out her approval, to be thin and 'pretty'. To this day, she still hears it as a compliment when she says I fit better into a dress than I "used to", rather than I simply look nice or even that I was smart for an accomplishment outside of my attractiveness.
After seeing the film, I realized that I constantly feel the same way – I feel as if I have to run interference between myself and these images or even my own worst critic - ME. I play the angel and devil on my own shoulders, and it’s exhausting. It wasn’t so much that I’m upset with society for having the schema that makes it so we have these insecurities about ourselves, it’s the fact that I simply want to be happy with what I have while I have it, and that I’m not.
The fear isn't that I'm not good enough for anyone else - it's am I good enough for MYSELF?
I have had SO many times in the last 20 years where I’ve looked in the mirror and cried; where I’ve felt like my mind, my soul, were trapped inside this particular physical body and that the outside didn’t match its insides. The person in the mirror, that’s not ME.
“I wanted to get an eating disorder, I wanted to get anorexia” - Stefania Ferrario
Another moment that stood out for me was when Jade Beall, a self-love activist and photographer, was interviewed. She said, “It’s a process – It’s practice. It’s like Yoga, you have to practice it to [get better]. Practice seeing yourself in many different lights…” and actually begin to believe it.
The thing that I’ve been striving to write about for the last few months on The Soaring Swine is that however you look, the only thing that matters is how you see yourself – why I said that Re-Framing the Gaze was so critical. I’m not here to tell you to hate your body, and you need to change it – actually, the opposite. I want to love MY body, and I want to be the best version of myself. That includes HEALTHY and HAPPY. To be healthy, I have to exercise and eat right, and to be happy, I have to love myself unconditionally just as I am – EVEN if that includes a few stretch marks or extra skin.
I suggest you find where you can see a screening of this movie and go now. It was wonderful and shed so much light for my own personal growth.
I've been criticized for posting revealing photos and those that show my progress along my journey. I'll never forget one time, a past friend mentioned that her husband was surprised my then-boyfriend 'allowed' me or supported me posting said photos. "I'm sorry, are they of his body? I'm pretty sure I'm allowed to do what I want with photos of ME" is what I wanted to say.
After years of self-body shaming, and hating the extra skin I've EARNED after losing 80+lbs, I am 100% absolutely DONE giving a crap about what people have to say and what their opinion is of MY body and what I choose to share or not share. I love my body for what it is capable of. It's taken me a long time to truly say that I love my extra skin, but it's a badge of honor! It shows what I'm capable of accomplishing and what I've been through in the last three years.
“And so began this journey. This unwavering desire to teach, educate and shout around the world that loving your body can bring you happiness and by learning to do so, change lives forever.” – Taryn Brumfitt
Download Taryn's eBook on how to get to the Body Positivity movement yourself! CLICK HERE for the first three chapters for free!