The point of life is not to stress and starve and mould our bodies to fit a stereotypical body that is considered beautiful by society’s standards. This is one of the main messages from the trailer for Taryn Brumfitt’s documentary “Embrace” that really stood out for me. For most of my younger years I spent so much mental capacity stressing over exercising a lot, eating perfectly, not eating too much, and fitting into what society told me was beautiful. I spent so much time stressing about physical beauty I lost site of other dreams and goals, relationships, and causes I was passionate about. My mind was so flooded with calorie counting and denying myself junk food and forcing myself to exercise that I was living only half a life and didn’t even realize it. I was definitely not happy. When I look back now I am grateful that my life is full and is no longer ruled by these obsessive thoughts. Sure- they pop up here and there, and this will happen working in my industry (fitness), and living in society with so many messages coming from all types of media to look a certain way. But now I can manage them and don’t allow them to control me
Taryn made her movie Embrace, for people like me, and for people like us all who obsess on small to large scales about looking a certain way. Whether it’s the fat under your arms, the grey in your hair, the pimple on your chin, the marks on your belly, or the shape of your eyebrows, people put a lot of emphasis on achieving a specific look. Taryn realized after participating in a body building competition that even at her leanest weight she still felt unhappy about her body, and so did the other women in the competition. It’s obvious- we can’t outrun our body image issues by forcing ourselves to work hard and look a certain way, instead we need to love our natural genetic bodies how they are, eat healthy (not obsessive), and exercise/move regularly. Much easier said then done. Let me assure you though- ever since I ’embraced’ and stopped forcing myself to exercise and denying extra treats and calories my body naturally formed it’s healthiest shape- and it’s slimmer, stronger, fitter, and healthier than ever!
You can watch the trailer here: https://bodyimagemovement.com/embrace/about-the-film/
In the movie we are taken on a journey from exploring the lives of women who have struggled with body image issues such as actresses, photographers, and every day women. It’s fascinating to me to see beautiful women on screen talking about feeling unworthy or unhappy with their appearance- I feel like yelling at them all their great features I can see! And that’s the thing- we are all born with our own unique appearances. If we were all supposed to be 15 % body fat, slender women with perfect hair eyes and boobs then shouldn’t we have been born as robots? Or barbie dolls?
It’s sad that young girls the age of 4 feel they need to lose weight. The statistics are astonishing. I once read that the majority of girls in ELEMENTARY SCHOOL want to lose weight or change something about their body. Where are they getting these messages? Who is reminding them of their beauty, their strengths, and how to foster a strong sense of positive body image? It starts with parents, and teachers, and adults, and guardians being open to talking to young girls about this issue before it becomes a problem. There is a tremendous need for this type of discussion in our society, yet it is clearly lacking. Instead- the idea that we all need more willpower to hit the gym more, and work harder, and eat healthier, and resist treats is pervasive on social media, commercials, and amongst hollywood stars. I don’t know about you but willpower for me was not the answer. Trying to have more willpower drove me nuts.
The cycle of will power went like this:
Follow diet all week (nothing ‘off plan’)—-> Weigh self on Friday and notice no weight loss ——-> feel guilty, ashamed, fat, ugly, unmotivated, useless ——-> go home and eat 5 handfuls of nuts not realizing that I was eating my emotions away——-> decide to start diet again in the morning———> Repeat for 10 years.
Instead- trying to lead a healthy life that also made me happier was quite easy. Being gentle with myself, listening to my body, exercising vigorously occasionally and not for the purpose of weight loss, all the while feeding my body what it needed and wanted was the answer to helping me establish body confidence. This is what young girls need to be taught. Ever since I stopped weighing myself in 2013, and stopped calorie counting my body has transformed into a body that I am proud of. It was the largest roller coaster ride I’ve ever rode- but it was worth it.
Girls that know how to take care of themselves and foster a positive image of themselves are
more focussed and drive in school
carry less social anxieties, and build relationships better
These are the girls we need to build up as our future.
So where do we start?
Well- you could start by renting the movie (being offered on Itunes starting feb 14th). This will help you learn about the impact society has on your views of your body. If you already know it’s an issue for you- here is what I recommend:
- Heal the underlying wounds. Work with a psychologist/therapist, or someone certified to help you deal with the underlying thought processes that cause you to under eat/overeat/not eat/binge eat. Our emotions are so connected to our food that it’s important to balance and heal our emotions so that we can find harmony with our food choices, to create a healthier body.
- Test out a holistic nutritionist. My nutritionist was really great with helping me get to the bottom of a lifelong desire to be skinnier. Through working with her I was able to realize and embrace the things I used to see as flaws, all the while she was helping me to create balance around my food choices.
- Create a workout program that is based around you feeling healthy, happy and good! If your program makes you feel exhausted, obsessed, or unhappy it’s got to go! Stop driving yourself into the wall if it’s not even making you happy!
- Start the discussion. This one is hard for me. I work with women every day who mention changes they want to make within themselves and most of the time I don’t know what to say. I am still trying to find the dialogue and the language around this topic. I think the more as a society we speak about these things the more progress we will make. We need strong and fearless women in this world- and they can’t be held back by their body image issues if they are going to do great things for our world!
- If you are really passionate about this topic- take a look at Taryn’s page for more ideas for how you can be involved: https://bodyimagemovement.com/takeaction/. There is also a really great link here that Taryn provides for common questions she gets asked, such as “how do I embrace my body”: https://bodyimagemovement.com/3-questions-about-body-image/
In the end I want you to be happy, and I don’t want women to suffer. I hope one day all bodies are embraced and considered beautiful for how unique they are from each other. If I can help you in any way, let me know. I will try my best 🙂
One final note:
Let me set something straight- this movie was excellent, yet 80 % of the time there is a naked person on screen, with some extremely graphic sections of the movie that caused me to have to cover my screen for fear that I would be offending viewers nearby. That’s your warning. If you don’t like extremely graphic nudity- don’t watch it.
Sorry..I have one more…I promise last one…
Next time you comment on someone’s physical appearance- maybe take a second and decide not to. Although you have the best of intentions for supporting someone and you truly are just trying to be kind- you have no idea what that comment means to them in their life, at this stage of their journey. Something friendly like “wow you look great” can easily mean to them “oh shit, I must have looked really bad before”. Other comments like “you must be really working out hard lately” or “you look really fit now” or “you must be eating really healthy can hurt some women. These women strive to receive these comments and notice when they don’t come and shame themselves for it.
Instead- try some of these statements:
” You look beautiful ”
” You look so happy today ”
” I love how you have done your hair”
etc. Even finding ways to comment on things that are beyond physical appearance is even better (share some in the comments section if you have some). I just choose not to comment very often. Instead I say something like “so nice to see you”.
Anyways, that’s all for now- thanks for reading.
“Find a way to Live Healthy- That Also Makes you Happy”