Last weekend I went and saw the hotly anticipated documentary Embrace, and I loved it. It was inspiring, uplifting, saddening and funny and it really affirmed for me the necessity of my work on this blog and reminded me of all the work that there is still to do in this space.
The documentary focuses on Taryn Brumfitt, who after having several children, really struggled with her changing body. So she decided to do something about it. She embarked on a grueling 15 week challenge that culminated in a bikini body competition. She was convinced that THIS was going to be the thing that would lead her to body peace and just the thing she needed in order to feel good about her self so she would be happy.
Lightbulb moment. Taryn was standing on stage, being judged in the bikini body competition and a sudden thought occurred to her. “Here I am standing on stage in my ‘perfect’ body and I’m not happy”
“91% of woman hate their bodies”
Talking to her fellow competitors back stage made Taryn realize that none of them were happy with their bodies either. And then anther realization – if a bunch of models aren’t happy with their bodies, who the heck will be?
Like flicking a switch, Taryn decides to stop hating on her body and appreciating it for what it is right now, and all the amazing things it can do for her. But Taryn is not alone. The majority of woman do not like their bodies. Many are on diets. And Taryn wants to know why. Her quest for answers on why SO many women hate their bodies takes her all over the world and she connects with many inspiring women who candidly share their battles with weight, body shame and size discrimination.
Being in the body positive space for a little while now, it is no surprise to me that women don’t like their bodies. What did surprise me was that hate that many women felt towards their bodies in this documentary. Woman on the street were asked to provide a word to describe their body. The most frequent answer? Disgusting. Women of all shapes (some smaller, some larger) told Taryn they were too fat, too big, too wobbly. Essentially, every single woman said, in some way or another that they are not enough.
“This body of mine isn’t an ornament, it’s a vehicle”
More women than ever hate their bodies. More women than ever put off life, deny themselves the opportunity to do all the fun, wonderful, awkward, amazing things life has to offer because they don’t like the way they look.
Why? Because no one (and I mean no-one) fits society’s impossible image of an acceptable body. Even models who are seen to have the ‘perfect’ body are told to lose more weight before shoots and are photoshopped to hell post production.
To solve the problem, many of us go to extreme lengths with our diet and exercise, hoping that by losing some weight and ultimately taking up less space that we’ll be happier and more accepted by society. This documentary does a good job at unpacking the role that diets have ultimately had in controlling women – even for me it was a real eye opener.
“Darling girl, don’t waste a single day being at war with your body”
The Sydney Morning Herald calls this documentary a “troubling eye opener”, I call it a reassuring shoulder squeeze. You are not alone. Hating your body and being at war with your body can feel isolating. When you go through it, it can feel like you’re the only one, like you’re alone in your struggle to stick to salads and kale smoothies. You are not.
Perhaps the most enlightening thing that I have learnt while being a blogger is that food and body image issues have touched most of us in some way, at some point in our lives. If this is you, or if you’d like to know more about these issues I would highly recommend getting along to a screening of Embrace.
PS Embrace does discuss issues of depression and eating disorders so if you have an eating disorder or are recovering from one, I would suggest taking a support person along with you and planning some self-care for afterwards.