It started with a before and after photo posted to Facebook. The before photo is of a blonde woman in a silver bikini, muscular, at the peak of physical fitness. The after photo is of the same woman, nude. The body builder muscles are gone, and in their place is a comfortable body, belonging to a woman you might see with her kids at the pool.
Both are healthy bodies, but the woman in the after photo smiles warmly, like she’s shed the weight of a lifetime of body loathing.
The woman is Taryn Brumfitt, an Australian body image activist and mother of three. In her new documentary Embrace, she talks to women around the world, exploring the idea of body image and trying to uncover why so many women hate their bodies.
Sadly, girls and women hating their bodies is an old story. It’s taught to us from childhood by women, by men, by television and magazines, and even by other little girls like us. Women grow up being told their body is not the ideal, so it’s easy to see how a grown woman could have trouble looking in the mirror and loving what she sees, no matter what she sees.
After three kids, Brumfitt hated her body too. So she trained, changed her diet and competed in body building competitions. She was in her perfect body, and she still wasn’t happy. There was too much sacrifice, too much time spent and too much obsession required to get there, and the root of the problem was still not addressed.
Brumfitt didn’t want her daughter to suffer the same body loathing she did. At first, she started the Body Image Movement, taking to social media with a simple message: love your body.
Brumfitt wanted to do more than tweet positive messages , so she launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a documentary. Supporters loved the idea and she raised more than $300,000 to travel around the world, listening to women’s stories, and trying to find ways to shift the perception of the ‘ideal body’.
At the end of the trailer, Brumfitt says to her daughter, “Darling girl, don’t waste a minute of your life hating your body. Just embrace it.”