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The Woman Who Decided To Embrace Her Body

Copyright @Taryn Brumfitt

One of my intentions for The Pro-Body Project is to introduce you to voices, other than my own, on the broad subject of body image.

So with that in mind, I went to see “Embrace,” a documentary by an Australian mum of three, Taryn Brumfitt. Taryn attempts to tackle the myth of the perfect body and the culture that drives so many of us to despair, trying to attain it.

Taryn shot to fame when she posted a set of pictures on Facebook that subverted the usual before and after shots. The photographs went viral, receiving more than 3.6 million clicks overnight. From this the Body Image Movement was born, followed by two years of travelling, filming and editing to produce “Embrace,” which Taryn believes, “Has the ability to change the way a generation of body haters feel about themselves.”

Whilst I’m not convinced “Embrace” offers anything new to most adult viewers, the interviews with women from varying backgrounds, cultures and countries are inspirational.

I had tears streaming down my face within the first few minutes, laughed along with Taryn – who isn’t afraid to laugh at herself – and felt admiration for every brave woman who shared her story. “Embrace’s” strength lies in Taryn’s passionate desire to celebrate the fact that the female form comes in all shapes and sizes and that there’s no one right way to look.

As much as I would encourage every woman to see “Embrace,” I’ve written previously about my problem with the body acceptance movement and my feelings haven’t changed – even though I applaud the important work of the various groups and the people they do help. But I continue to ask why so many of us suffer from a negative self-image? Whilst I’m aware the media – in all its forms – is held responsible, I can’t help feeling the true complexities of this issue are not being acknowledged and that some voices still aren’t being heard.

At the same time, I wonder if there’s also a danger of going over the same ground; repeatedly talking about body issues and then telling women that there are far more important things to worry about, beside our looks, shape and size. That just makes me want to scream, “We know that!” and yet that knowledge only made me feel worse. So rather than trying to shame women into letting go of their body hang-ups, perhaps it’s time for a new dialogue.

My suggestion is to review what everyone is saying within the body acceptance movement, take what resonates with you, and leave the rest. Just as the female form comes in all shapes and sizes, so too can our approach to learning to love our bodies.

Find out how you can see Embrace by visiting the Body Image Movement website – you can also follow the movement on Facebook.

The Pro-Body Project is published fortnightly. You can read the first entry here or the next entry, “Your Body In The Bedroom” here.


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Esther Zimmer is an Australian writer, lifestyle coach and personal stylist based in London. She believes everyone has a calling, and it’s not necessarily just one thing. The home she shares with her husband, David, is filled with art and books, and her favorite pastime is packing a bag and heading somewhere new. Esther writes about life, relationships, body image and travel and can be found at

7 thoughts on “The Woman Who Decided To Embrace Her Body”

  1. I can’t wait to see where you take it from here! What is that new dialogue about; how do we learn to love our bodies, without using our dialogue as an excuse to eat what we want and not exercise…. Not good for anyone, and we know that. Perhaps the real dialogue is the one we have with ourselves on a conscious and unconscious basis. We know when we’re “feeding” ourselves (pardon the pun) a bunch of lies, but why do we choose to ignore them… our common sense about food and exercise, for example? Such an important topic! For everyone’s sake, I hope you can give us some insight. xoxox, Brenda

    • Hi Brenda, thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement. You’ve raised a fabulous point, why do we choose to ignore the lies we “feed” ourselves? I’m going to reply to your email shortly and I’ll send you my thoughts there! Essie xx

  2. I have a love hate relationship with my body, more hate than love actually. this is a wonderful post about a woman who is clearly gorgeous inside and out. Thank you for sharing the body image movement at the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop .Hugs!

    • Hi Katherine, thanks for commenting and I really hope you find the encouragement you need within The Body Image Movement and also throughout this series. Learning to love our bodies is not an easy path – I understand that too well – but it’s a journey worth taking. Esther xx

  3. Hmm… this is a fantastic topic! I’m sitting here kind of stumped at what to say or where to begin and not wanting to take over your comments section with a blog post. I have so much to contribute, yet at the same time, it’s so freaking hard for me to really talk about myself online.

    Back in the day, I was a model. I was actually signed to work with a famous company and never did follow through. The initial process made me feel like crap. My ankle bones, fingers, neck, ears were all inspected. I was told to lose 15 pounds. I was not overweight either! In order to lose that weight I would have had to eat lettuce and maybe a cracker each day.

    The last great role model type models were from the late 80’s to the early 90’s. Cindy Crawford, Kathie Ireland, Christy Brinkley, Tyra Banks, Elle McPherson, Rachel Hunter, Heidi Klum, Rebeccah Roman, were all easily a healthy size 8 and were all well-built women. Granted all of these women were tall ranging from 5’10 to over 6 foot. The standard size was an 8 for models.

    Then around 93 along came Kate Moss and the Waif look. Suddenly the entire modeling industry changed and it became mandatory to look anorexic and like a drug addict. The modeling size dropped down to a size 4-6 which is extremely difficult for any woman over 5’10 to maintain. This skin and bones looks was everywhere! Eating disorders became more rampant in order to achieve the look of a model.

    Photoshop came in. They minimized breasts and booties or enhanced them. Everything was and still is airbrushed to Barbie doll plastic perfection. All lumps, natural rolls, skin creases were wiped out with the push of a button.

    It utterly disgusted me so I never really pursued a full career in modeling. Plus, I like food. I hate being hungry. I ended up with hypo-glycemia and still have issues with that even know, years later.

    Body image issues also arise in some people as a result of childhood abuse or being habitually teased. There are legit studies showing the psychological impact that various types of abuse have on an individual and how it creates BDD- Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

    In all honesty, I blame the media for some of the problems we see now. However, I don’t know that they are entirely to blame. One thing is for certain, they have distorted what beauty is for several decades and have greatly pressured society into believing that how their photoshopped models look is how every woman should look.

    The Dove beauty ads are great and I applaud the change in directions and how people have taken over on social media and are now influencing the fashion world. I’ve seen women of all shapes and sizes as fashion influencers and I think it’s awesome. It’s realistic.

    I think the reasons people continue to suffer with body image issues aren’t all categorized in what I mentioned here. These are just a few of the issues and I’m certain there are many, many, more reasons than I’m even aware of.

    This is a great article, Brenda.

    • Hi Olivia,

      Firstly, thank you for your amazing comment and secondly, apologies for my tardy reply because I really appreciate your contribution to this conversation.

      It’s incredible to read about your experience. I’ve heard different stories about what goes on within the modeling industry and girls being measured and weighed, but I’ve never heard a story such as yours ‘first hand’ – so to speak. No wonder your experience made you feel like crap. I have always wondered why it is that the Kate Moss/waif look took off, what is it about that particular ‘look’ that captured so many people’s attention? I know that being so thin means clothes hang particularly well, but clothes looked amazing on the original supermodels too. And yes, as you say, then Photoshop arrived and things have never been the same ever since.

      Your note about body image issues being a result of childhood abuse or bullying struck a chord, because I truly believe that these people are often overlooked when it comes to most conversations regarding the subject. I wonder if some people don’t want to look because it will make the issue even more complicated, but it’s only when we are willing to include everyone that things can really change.

      I agree that there are many reasons why people continue to suffer with body image issues and that it’s only when we begin to recognize this that we’ll also recognize that there needs to be a number of different ways to help people heal, simply telling someone that there’s more important things to worry about really isn’t that helpful.

      Thanks again for taking the time to share your experience and thoughts. Esther xx

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