As a runner, I’ve had plenty of scrutiny on my body. When I was in high school, an off-handed comment made by a track coach led to decades of disorder eating and poor body image. What was it? I placed very well in a cross country meet and another coach said “she’s kind of big for a runner.” My coach responded “she beat everyone on your team.” This story was told to me in an “I showed him” kind of way. The funny part of this is that I was 5’4″ and I weighed less than 120 lbs. Ironically, that would be a great “after” picture for me now.
I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if I never went on that first diet or took the comment for what it was – ignorant. That is the premise of Taryn Brumfitt’s documentary Embrace. What is we just loved our bodies for the power, strength and difference that they offer? What if society’s image of the “perfect” woman was a cornucopia of shapes and sizes?
The idea for this movie started after Taryn posted an unconventional “before and after” photo on Facebook. After having three children, she hated her body. A trainer friend suggested that she work out and participate in a fitness competition. She did and she looked amazing. Afterwards, she felt the time and effort that getting into that shape was not sustainable or worth it. She wasn’t happy and didn’t want to focus so much time on her body instead of her life.
She let her natural curves reemerge and then she posted this “before and after” photo. It went viral. The surprising thing to her was how many emails she got from women who hated their bodies. Her story was on news programs all over the world. She decided to write a book and then to make a documentary film to try to answer the question “why do so many women hate their bodies?”
The film, created after a successful Kickstarter campaign, launched last year. In Embrace, Taryn chats with celebrities, photographers, magazine editors, women who’ve had extraordinary things happen to their bodies and tons of regular people. She also shows how the media and fashion industry show an unrealistic standard of beauty that fuels body image issues.
I enjoyed Taryn’s travels and the women she spoke to. I could relate to many of them and just enjoyed all of the perspectives and opinions. I especially liked Rikki Lake and her perspectives and to see how far she’s come. I also liked the regular women and the photo shoot at the end. I wanted Taryn to come out here to speak to me and my friends.
At the end of the film, she asked women to describe their body. For me, one of the things that I try to do to have a better body image is to think of what my body can do instead of how it looks in the mirror. My body is strong and capable. My body has run thousands of miles. My body is tough and never gives up. Now that I am solidly in my mid-40s, I try to be a bit easier on myself and this movie had some great messages that I’ll carry with me. To her daughter, Taryn wishes, “Darling girl, don’t waste a single day of your life being at war with your body. Just embrace it!” Amen.
How would you describe your body (in positive terms)? How do you boost your body image?
Please note: I was not compensated for this post. I was offered a screener version of movie at no cost in exchange for editorial consideration. All opinions are my own. This post contains an affiliate link for the book Embrace. If you purchase via this link, I will receive a small commission.