Writer and director Taryn Brumfitt began her body positivity campaign with a viral post, before creating the Body Image Movement (BMI) to help people embrace their bodies.
When Taryn Brumfitt was announced as 2023 Australian of the Year, countless Australians around the country were quick to celebrate the news. For Brumfitt, hers is a story not only of self-love and acceptance, but encouraging others to embrace their own bodies as she looks to tackle the impossible standards of beauty often portrayed by the media and their impact on the health and wellbeing of young people. Brumfitt first began her campaign in 2013, when the 45-year-old mother of four posted a simple “before and after” photo on Facebook showing how her body had changed. While such images tend to be used solely by gym instructors and influencers showcasing dramatic weight loss or glorified changes, Brumfitt’s went viral for its honest portrayal of how pregnancy changes our bodies.
After the birth of her third child, Brumfitt was desperate to return to her pre-pregnancy figure, even going so far as to consider plastic surgery. Instead, she took up an extensive weight-loss and exercise program that saw her participate in bodybuilding. But while competing in such a competition was a reflection of her hard work and determination, it also led Brumfitt to develop an unhealthy preoccupation with having the so-called “perfect figure”. Not surprisingly, Brumfitt reports being deeply unhappy. As she expressed to Jennifer Dulski in her book, Purposeful, “The lifestyle that I lived to have that perfect body felt very restrictive, and it wasn’t really very joyful.”
In an effort to embrace her figure, Brumfitt posted a “before and after” image to social media. The “Before” showcased the mum with her chiseled bodybuilding physique, as she posed in a bikini on stage at competition. In her “After” shot, Brumfitt had given up her strict regime and had come to accept her body.
“My ‘after’ is as I am now, cellulite, stretch marks, folds, rolls, all the things,” she explained to the ABC. The image was quick to garner millions of views and spread internationally, even surprising Brumfitt. “Which is crazy in itself right? A woman learns to embrace her body, and it becomes headline news in most countries around the world.”
After posting the image, Brumfitt continued to receive thousands of emails from women around the world which inspired her to write her book and eventually film her documentary, Embrace. She now boasts a social media following of more than 500,000 as her body image advocacy has gone global, reaching people in every corner of the world.
Brumfitt’s greatest achievement however, has been the Body Image Movement (BMI), which she founded with the desire to “help people embrace their bodies”. Though international in its reach, BMI is based in her home town of Adelaide and allows Brumfitt to combat toxic messaging in the media and advertising via educational resources, speeches, documentaries and three bestselling books, all promoting positive body image. Her documentaries, Embrace and Embrace Kids, even garnered recognition from UN Women, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls and the Geena Davis Institute, while Brumfitt has continued to deliver key note speeches around the world.
While Brumfitt’s message of self-love and acceptance is an important one, it’s also one she believes kids still struggle with. As 2023 Australian of the Year, she now hopes to deliver greater resources to address body image issues among youth. As she told ABC, “We really need to help our kids across Australia and the world because the rates of suicide, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, steroid use, all on the increase, relate to body dissatisfaction.”
As she took to the stage to accept her Australian of the Year honour, Brumfitt expressed: “There is so much despair in this nation for children and adults when it comes to what we think and how we feel about our bodies. Australia, it is not our life’s purpose to be at war with our body.”
Source @womenshealth.com.au: Read more at : womenalive.org