Love The Body You’re In – Embrace (Yourself)

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.

Embrace via @bodyimagemvmt on Twitter.

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.

Taryn Brumfitt’s controversial Before and After photo went viral on Facebook.

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.

You can learn more about Taryn’s Body Image Movement here. You can download the movie on iTunes. You can follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, too.

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.

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19 Comments

  1. Georgette Coan says:

    What a great message! Thank you for sharing your story and profiling her story

  2. vickie couturier says:

    very interesting,,i don’t have a great body image of myself

  3. So interesting–I had something similar happen to me, except it was my grandpa who said I was “thick” when I was 14. I hadn’t hit my growth spurt yet–I was 5′ and 120#. My mom put me on a diet. My sisters called me fat. I hated my body. Even when I grew 5 inches that year, I still hated my body. It wasn’t until I started strength training with Becky in my 50s that I fell in love with how strong I was and all that I could do. How sad is that?

    • Erica A says:

      That is sad but it’s amazing what comments like that can do. I try to pay attention to what I say to my nieces and other young girls.

      I look at you and think you have the body every 50+ woman would want – or any woman for that matter!

  4. Amber Ludwig says:

    Oooh its hard for me to describe my body in good terms!! We tend to hate each other most days lol!! I am dealing with some really awful IBS issues and immune system issues so to say I love my body would be a lie!! I love that it birthed my son and made me a mom. For that I am so grateful!

  5. Erin R. says:

    Ohhhhh, your coach needs a smack in the mouth. I always suspect a little bit of meanness when someone tells a story like that that has absolutely no need to be told. I’m sorry.

  6. Maria Fernanda Wetzel says:

    It’s really sad to know that you had to hear that, and even sadder to think that it is still happening. What kills me the most is that mothers are some times the first ones to tell their kids what the “ideal” image is and that it should be their goal to achieve/maintain it. I have a 5 year old daughter and my husband and I are very conscious about what we say to her about body image. We talk about being healthy and exercising to be strong, to never give up and keep trying, and giving your body the right fuel to be active. I don’t believe in diets, I believe in living a healthy life and I hope our daughter grows believing that too.

  7. I love this! My body is different after having a baby and I was worried my heavier self wouldn’t run as fast… but I’ll be damned, I’m still able to hit faster paces. Our bodies are amazing and embracing them is SO important!

  8. I’m obviously not a mom yet, but I’ve already thought (and started discussing with Alex) how we are going to foster positive body images in our children while keeping them healthy. My own body and food confidence has waxed and waned over the years, as we have discussed, but running the marathon is perhaps the one thing that has changed my body image for the most positive. I am in a completely different and healthier place because of it.

  9. Erin says:

    I’ve debated doing a “fitness” competition and even got myself to a spot where I probably could have competed. Since then, though, I’ve stopped tracking my food as closely and changed up my workouts. This morning I was putting on a pair of jeans that used to be looser and I got sad. But then I reminded myself that I just ran a marathon PR, can squat and deadlift more than I weigh, and can even do 3-4 pull-ups! My six-pack abs might not be around anymore but my body is still pretty amazing.

    • Erica A says:

      I love your confidence, Erin and I would agree that your body is pretty amazing! I think the fact that your lifting has made your running even better is inspiring, too!

  10. Maggie Wolff says:

    One thing I love about the burlesque community (at least, the local community I surround myself with), is the lack of commentary on bodies. The focus is on the performance, the presence, the choreography, the costuming. What your body does and how you present it, but not your actual body. It’s kind of interesting, we spend some much time naked, yet there is this lack of body image issues and critique. That’s not to say it doesn’t exist… just that it’s not welcome.

    Between that and the fact that my mother never fixated on her body image, I would say that I’ve always had a very healthy body image. Sure, there are things I want to improve, but I’ve never let it consume me or lead to disordered eating or working out.

    I would describe my body as strong and capable.

    • Erica A says:

      I was hoping you’d weigh in, Maggie! I love your burlesque pics and always wish I had the confidence to try it. I need to take a class or something 🙂 You inspire me!

  11. Maggie U says:

    This is always a relevant and important conversation to have – and a constant reminder I think we all need to be giving ourselves. I find myself comparing myself on days when I’m tired and feeling less “fit” to days when I feel on top of the world, or myself to others. That may be totally natural, but it shouldn’t be consuming. And it always helps to read things like this that help pull the focus back towards simple self-love with no qualifiers, if’s/and’s or but’s about it.

    • Erica A says:

      Thanks for joining the conversation here, Maggie. I think self love is a challenge even for the most confident people. The negative thoughts can be really self fulfilling.

  12. Lisa Brown says:

    The movie looks great and long overdue. Thanks for sharing your own story as well.

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