If I asked you if you embrace your body, what would you say? When was the last time you looked in the mirror and loved what you saw? And if I told you that the largest problem for Australian school children is their body image and 70% of Australian school children consider it to be their number one concern, how would you feel? As Body Image Movement founder Taryn Brumfitt discovered when creating her documentary Embrace - the most successfully crowdfunded documentary in Australian history – body image is a global problem and it begins far younger than we'd like to believe. "No matter where I travelled to, the stories were still the same. There was still an expectation of what beauty meant in particular countries and cultures. And if you fell outside of that beauty standard, then you were like most women, on that road of battling against your body," she says. Embrace Kids is now in the works and you can donate to the funding of the documentary here. Teresa Palmer, Celeste Barber and Natasha Stott Despoja are all executive producers - what a line-up!
Here, we hear more about the defining moment that lead Taryn to begin her journey of learning to embrace her body and how we can all follow her lead and also her latest project, a new children's book entitled Embrace Your Body.
What happened to your body image after you had children?<p>When I had my three children, everything changed. I think it was the loss of control over what happened to my body. I had three kids in three and a half years. There really wasn't a lot of time of recovery. It was basically being pregnant, breastfeeding, having another baby, and doing that three times over. By the time I had my third, Mikaela, these feelings of how I felt about my body had really become amplified into, "I'm just going to have to fix this. I can't go through this for the rest of my life." And that's when I went and had an appointment with a plastic surgeon to fix what I considered to be my broken body. <br></p>
Standing there in the surgeon's office, how did you feel?<p>I was so excited. I was excited because I was going to get my body back. He was going to cut part of my body away, and stitch it up. I was potentially just a few months away from having what I'd wanted for years.<br></p><p>Then I had an epiphany while I was watching Mikaela play – I couldn't go through with it because what kind of example would that be for my daughter? I spoke to my trainer at the gym, and asked her what it would be like to have the perfect body? Would it make me happier? She suggested I get into body building. </p>
Tell me about the training involved for the bodybuilding competition you entered?<p>The road to the stage was very intense. It was 15 weeks of a very, very strict diet. Lots of protein, and lots of vegetables, and not many carbs, no dairy, no splash of milk in my coffee. Short blacks only. It was really regimented.<br></p><p>The training regime was pretty intense too. It was six days a week, sometimes twice a day. I lost about 15 kilos over 15 weeks and got quite muscly in that time. Walking onto the stage at the competition was probably one of the craziest things I've ever done. <br><br>I always joke now when I speak to audiences and say, "I think a part of the feminist in me died that day, being on stage in a silver bikini and porno shoes, and having people judge my body." It was a life-changing moment for me, standing on stage and looking out to this crowd of 800 people, and looking at these judges with their pens, writing down notes about my body. </p><p>I realised my body is not an ornament in life. It's the vehicle in life. I got off stage, and I felt this sense of freedom. I didn't have to weigh my food anymore, count my calories, obsess over the gym. I started moving my body for pleasure and not punishment.</p><p>That was a big one, because a lot of women train their bodies to look a certain way, or they train their bodies because they had a piece of cake, or too much food on the weekend. What happens is the relationship with moving your body becomes one of punishment, and pain, and misery and, "I've got to do this," and exercise. <br><br>The real missing piece is that moving our bodies is glorious. It's so much fun, and there's a million ways to do it, and we don't have to do it in one particular way, if that doesn't serve you or make you feel good. </p>
Before: Andre Agnew After: Kate Ellis
Tell me about the moment you posted the before and after photos to Facebook…<p>Those photos were a sliding doors moment for everything that's happened since. I posted those photos because I just wanted to help some other women that I'd been speaking to. I was proud of my body in the after, because there was real joy in that image, and I felt that joy. <br><br>We need to learn to feel more into our bodies, and enjoy our bodies. It's actually not hard once you get a little taste of how good it feels when you embrace. <br><br>There's real power in the sharing of stories, and having the conversations, and revealing the pain, and lifting the shame, and giving permission for other women to then go, "Fuck this, I'm not going to buy into those messages anymore. I want a piece of that," and that's the road you get on. No turning back either. </p>
What does it look and feel like to embrace your body?<p>There's such a sense of freedom, and just pure joy. A really deep connection to mother nature, to other people, relationships, life in general. It just feels so free, and so fun. I love the energy that I feel from having now embraced. I didn't always have this boundless energy. I never felt this good in my teens or my 20s, or my early 30s. My kids have to keep up with me, and most people have to keep up with me.</p><p>I really believe, truly, that it has to do with removing that enormous chip from the brain that's hating on my body, worried about my body, wishing I had her body. Oh my gosh, that mental torture is so weighing us down. When you let go of that, it just creates space in your life.</p>
Is it about training our minds to fight negative thoughts?<p>No, I don't think we need to fight them. I don't want to go into a battle with my thoughts. I want to observe them, understand them. Awareness is the first step. We don't want to battle our thoughts. It's like a ping-pong conversation that gets us nowhere. </p><p>There's a more effective way of doing that. Observation and awareness. It's the unpacking of the stories. And it's really taking a pause and a moment in our lives to go, "Why do I feel this way? What impact does it have in my life? Do I want to continue living my life this way?" If the answer is, "No, I don't want to hate my body. I don't want have these thoughts." Then what can I do? And that's the big one, what can I do to move towards a life that's more graceful, embracing and loving, and cherishing of who I am? <br><br>Then you're on the road, which might mean reading books, watching films, or detoxing your social media feed. You become aware in everyday life of all of those messages that come at us, that we buy into that serve us, and don't make us feel good. You don't need to battle against them, but you can choose to not fall victim and buying into those messages. </p>
Embrace - Official Trailer 2016 - Taryn Brumfitt Documentary HD<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cd949bf40f7d252a2a48162f385f6046"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/5eypB_G7Ztc?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
I want to talk about Embrace, the most successfully crowdfunded documentary in Australian history. What was your mission?<p>The mission was to discover why so many people hate their bodies, and what we can do about it. We've impacted millions of people's lives with the film. It was on Netflix, shown in a 190 countries. In Germany, it was number one at the Box Office and beat blockbuster movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and King Arthur. I love a good underdog story.<br></p>Professors from Flinders University and Victoria university, Dr. Zali Yager and Dr. Ivanka Prichard, they did a global study on the impact of Embrace, and it's just been published in a medical journal which is amazing. So anecdotally we know the film has changed millions of people's lives, but now we've got the data. That's a real coup for us. That feels really solid and juicy.
What were some of the biggest insights you took away from Embrace?<p>No matter where I travelled to, the stories were still the same. There was still an expectation of what beauty meant in particular countries and cultures. And if you fell outside of that beauty standard, then you were like most women, on that road of battling against your body.<br></p><p>One of the most shocking things was meeting a woman in the Dominican Republic. She had never left the island, and her village didn't even have electricity. However, she still wanted to have a breast enlargement because she'd seen women with larger breasts in a magazine. The globalisation of media had had an impact, and it's just so mind-blowing when you actually see that in a small, remote village on the other side of the world. A woman who's not exposed to TV, but has a magazine and still wants to change her body.</p>
How do you teach your children about body love?<p>The way I raise my boys and daughter is the same, because it's not gender specific. It's very much teaching them that their bodies are not ornaments, they're vehicles in life. They're here to enjoy their bodies, and what's most meaningful in life is the connections that you have with people, and the experiences that you have. <br></p><p><br>A big part of it is fuelling their bodies. There's lots to be done, and there's lots of adventures to be had, and to go on those adventures you need to have the energy, and you need to fuel your body well. We don't talk about good food or bad food, because we don't want to demonise food, but we certainly want them to make great choices that feel good for their body. <br><br>The other part of the conversation around body image with kids is the celebration of diversity and how unique we all are, and how we come in all different shapes and sizes, and abilities of bodies. And there's no right way or wrong way to have a body, and I also think it's about helping them to have a real sense of appreciation, and gratitude, and pride for their body. That, that's the body they'll have until the day that they die. They need to really respect it, and nourish it, and enjoy it. </p>
An Embrace Kids documentary is in the works, due to be realised in 2021. Can you tell me about it?<p>Teresa Palmer, Celeste Barber and Natasha Stott Despoja are all executive producers. We're working with the professors from Flinders University and Victoria University to make sure the content is safe and effective in the classroom. And once this documentary is made, we're giving it to schools for free as a resource for schools across the globe.<br></p>
Embrace<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ab16c46013c40b50810d55f2c69293f4"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/axK1syPpxyw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>Provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group Embrace · Pevan & Sarah · Taryn Brumfitt Embrace ℗ 2019 Pevan & Sarah, exclusively licensed to Australian Broadc...
Embrace Your Body by Taryn Brumfitt
Tell me about your new children's book Embrace Your Body?<p>The largest problem for Australian school children is their body image. 70% of Australian school children consider it to be their number one concern. That is a really alarming statistic. I think actually having a plan of attack in your home is paramount to helping raise a child that has a good foundation of values that's based on who they are, and what they do, and how they feel as opposed to what they look like.<br></p><p>I spent a lot of time in schools with teens during Q&A screenings of Embrace, the documentary. What I was discovering was that it almost felt too late. Some of these kids had hated their bodies for two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine ... a crazy number of years. I just knew we were getting to them too late. We needed to do something earlier. We have already set about making the documentary for girls aged eight to 12, which we're in production for now. <br><br>The book came about because I thought, "Okay, that's eight to 12-year-olds. That's going to be another 18 months. We need to create something and get something really early in those really formative years." And I wrote a song with a group, a children's entertainment group called Pevan and Sarah. We released that song, and kids loved it, and parents loved it, and it went number one on iTunes, and it beat Baby Shark. It knocked Baby Shark off for a moment in time off the number one spot, which was hilarious. <br></p><p>So that lead to turning the song into a book. Although I'm the front person, there's a team of amazing people who I work with. Sinead Hanley, the illustrator. Her illustrations in that book are just so dreamy, and I think we've done a really good job collectively of making sure that everyone is seen in there. Whether you have a walking stick, and you're blind. Or whether your arm has been amputated, or what colour you are, or what religion you are. We've covered a lot of bases in that book to make sure everyone feels included.</p>
What are the biggest messages that you want to get through to the tween and teen-age group?<p>It always comes back to their bodies are not ornaments. They're vehicles in life. Also, that they've got such a short amount of time in the world, and they need to enjoy that time. I think also the kindness piece is a big piece, probably more so for the younger ones, but kindness is key. And celebrating diversity and our differences is really important. And diversity is beautiful. We don't want to all be the same or look the same. What sort of world would that be? I think it just comes back to enjoying their bodies and their experiences, and their experiences with other people. </p>
I want to talk about manifestation. You posted a photo of you Drew Barrymore, and you wrote about how you had manifested that you were going to meet her, and then there she was at your yoga class. Do you manifest a lot?<p>Manifesting is having belief. I believe in the non-physical world, and I believe that the non-physical world often champions our dreams and what we want. I believe when you're aligned and living consciously, leading with life, and gratitude, and generosity you are more likely to attract the outcomes that you want with ease and grace. <br></p><p><br>We can push, and we can hustle, and we can nudge, and we could do it that way. Or there is actually an easier way, and that's something I've been working on for a handful of years. I've always been very much wired to go, "Here's my goal. This is where I'm going. This is how I'm going to get there." There's vision boarding, meditation, being super grounded, and spending lots of time in nature. </p>
Taryn with Drew Barrymore
I want finish by talking about the self-beliefs we have which can hold us back. How do we overcome limiting self-beliefs?<p>I think questioning the why. Why I have that thought or belief? Start unpacking it. For me, a big one was public speaking. I didn't think I could speak in front of audiences, and I carried that for years, and years, and years. And now I do, and I love it. But I couldn't even raise my hand in a boardroom situation in my 20s. I would get so nervous and so clammy, and my voice would quiver. One day I said to myself, "Enough. I have something to say. Taryn, you need to get out of your own way." Deeper reflection is important. I feel little nerves, but they're fun nerves, and I dance with those emotions as opposed to being drowned by those emotions.</p><p>Another thing which might sound a little bit cheesy, is being your own best friend in life, and being that champion of yourself, and showing yourself enormous amounts of kindness. Be your own cheerleader. That is what embracing means. </p><p><br><br></p>
Embrace Your Body by Taryn Brumfitt and Sinead Hanley | Book Trailer<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3641e381f403d6879e6a38938231ba17"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/xS0ko2U8jR8?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>Embrace your body – you’ve only got one! Based on the #1 hit children’s song, this picture book encourages everyone to love who they are, inside and out. Tar...
The inspiration behind Tegan Murdock's brand Love Yourself Sister goes way back to her childhood. She's a proud Aboriginal woman from the Barkindji nation in far west NSW. She was born in Albury, and moved between here and Dareton throughout her childhood, and now considers both her home.
You are from the Barkindji nation in far west NSW - can you tell me about your childhood, where you grew up and what some of your most vivid memories of your childhood are?<p>I was never bored because there were always fun things to explore. Sitting around the fire while Mum and Nan cooked yummy food was always nice, I was always surrounded by family – Mum, Dad, Nan and Pop would ration what we had so that they made sure that no one missed out on food.<br></p><p>The red dirt and bush is a part of me and will always be who I am. Lake Mungo, Lake Victoria and the Perry sandhills were my playgrounds growing up. Mum and Dad ran youth groups where they would take kids out on country to sit, listen and learn about culture. My fondest memories were out Lake Mungo where I first learnt about the Emu in the milky way from my late uncle Roddy, he was known as the 'king of the bush' he held knowledge passed down for generations and generations. I cherish moments like these where you sit and listen to elders telling stories.</p>
What did your parents teach you about racism growing up?<p>We never really spoke about it, we would just see the impact and that's how I came to know about it.<br></p><p>I would face it when I would go into town from the mission. We wouldn't be served at shops and you learnt to wait a long time for your turn. Living on the mission, Mum told me that almost every weekend they would be living in fear from the KKK coming into their homes and running riot amongst everyone. I remember when I was around 6 or 7, we had to all gather at a family member's house because the KKK were running through our homes burning, smashing everything and hurting family. They would hide in the surrounding bushes and just put fear into us all. I would have nightmares, and I would always struggle to leave my family because that fear was built in that I could be hurt.</p><p>We would always fear white people, and we would never feel comfortable due to the trauma that was caused.</p><p>I would see racism all around me, comments like Abo, coon, boong and gin were always thrown around. As I got older Mum and Dad would tell us to ignore the comments and be the bigger person but sometimes it would get too much and you would just break. </p><p>I was a very good netball and basketball player, and this is where the opponent would make racist comments to try and put me off my game. Most of the time I would dread going to play another game but the love of it was too strong, so I kept persisting. Eventually they just saw us as normal people and the comments stopped. My brothers, however, would face it more than what I had.</p>
Tell me about the move to Sydney... was it an adjustment and what challenges did you face and how did you overcome any challenges?<p>Moving to Sydney was the hardest thing I've ever had to do, even at the age of 22.<br></p><p>I would never go on school camps, let alone move away from my family. I had separation anxiety so being away from family was hard. I'm pretty sure I cried every day for the first six months. I'm not sure how my husband put up with me. </p><p>I adjusted by making sure I had regular visits back home and made sure Mum and Dad would visit me. Starting work in Sydney was huge and a hard adjustment. My husband had to drive me to work as I worked in Chatswood close to his work. I was too scared to drive myself, coming from a small town with little traffic to the city life was very daunting. </p><p>I had numerous jobs when I first moved, but would only ever last in the job for a few months or so, being black and going into an all-white workplace was so hard. I had racism at an engineering company where I worked, I had a degrading feeling from a workplace where I worked in Mosman and faced racism in a workplace in Frenchs Forest. You would get uneducated people telling jokes and talking down to Aboriginal people, while I was sitting at my desk working. It was hurtful and would make you feel like you amounted to nothing.</p>
Your brand is about empowering women to embrace their own unique beauty, to help them understand that they are here for a reason, they are to live life to the fullest and not be caged in. Where did this inspiration come from? And can you share your experience with depression and anxiety?<p>This is where my brand 'Love Yourself sister' came from. Growing up I faced too many cruel situations and saw my family go through too much hurt. I wanted to create a movement where I could empower my people to really love and embrace who we are. We are not defined by other people's opinions, we are not defined by our past, we are all uniquely beautiful, brave and strong enough to stand tall and honour our paths, we don't need to have validation from anyone else. </p><p>I came up with the name while sitting in a personal development course – I had just uncovered a whole heap of things for myself and I just remember sitting there telling myself that I need to spread this message of self love. I wanted to spread that self love is how we can save ourselves – no one else can come to save us until we can recognise it in ourselves. After the course had ended, I created my Instagram page originally just as a reminder for myself. When I opened it up to the public, I started getting messages saying thank you for what you're doing, you're helping me on my journey to healing.</p>
What do you think are the biggest misconceptions around depression and anxiety?<p>I think the biggest misconceptions are that medication will cure you, keep busy and it'll pass.<span></span><br></p>
How old were you when you had children, and looking back, is there anything you wish you did differently?<p>I had Mia my first daughter when I was 24 and then my second 18 months after. Living away from my family as a firsttime mum was so hard, but I struggled through and from that had postnatal depression. I was alone and had no real support. If there's anything I could have done differently, it's chosen to move back with my mum! <br></p>
What have you learnt about happiness? What is happiness?<p>I've learnt that happiness doesn't come from anyone else, it's all within. Once you realise that you are worthy and enough within, then that's when your happiness will shine through. You won't need to seek it from anyone else because you are happiness.<span></span><br></p>
Can you take us through your career path, your days modelling, and how you came to found your own brand Love Yourself Sister?<p>Growing up I just wanted to work and start a family. I didn't have a career in mind, I wasn't interested in university or even owning a business. My first job was picking grapes with my Dad, Pop and brothers on a grape block in Coomealla. Then once I started year 7, I worked at the local IGA supermarket stocking the shelves. Once I had finished year 11, I started working at a bakery in Albury and then from there I got into office administration. I loved working with computers so really enjoyed this job. I've worked in administration for as long as I can remember until I had my kids and then I stopped working for six years while being a stay at home mum. My husband worked hard for us so that I could stay home and be here for our girls. But then, a few years ago my mum taught me how to weave baskets, and this is what I do to this day. I run weaving workshops, do weaving in schools and businesses. I love the idea of bringing this healing element to communities and also to sharing culture.<br></p><p>I've done a few small photoshoots for my modelling and one fun runway last year. It's not something that has been a big part of me but I have wanted to do it since I was little and I thought it would be a nice way to be a role model for my people. I realise now that I am a role model without being a model. </p>
Your mother taught you how to weave - can you share how it helped you to heal? And how did you come up with the name Ngumpie Weaving?<p>My beautiful mum taught me how to weave a few years ago. She had tried prior to this, but it just wasn't my time to learn. I learnt after getting off a family cruise and from that day I haven't stopped. It has allowed me to feel connected to culture whilst living away from home and it has allowed me to slow down and be grounded amongst the craziness of the world. Weaving to me is medicine. You zone out while creating and forgetting all the troubles of the day. I guess this is something my ancestors used for healing and connection to country.<br></p><p>The name Ngumpie Weaving came from my Nanna Shirl, she used to call me Ngumpie when I was growing up, and Ngumpie in our Language means "beautiful", so when I decided to create a weaving business, this was the only name that stuck out for me. My Nan is no longer with us, but I feel her presence with me all the time.</p>
How has your life changed since becoming a mother? What has been the greatest challenge, and the greatest joy?<p>Life has changed so much. The strength and courage I have found since becoming a Mum is next level amazing. I love being a mum and I love learning from them. The greatest joy of motherhood is having two little best friends. I love the fact that I get to watch them grow into beautiful, caring, strong little girls. They teach me how to be a better person every day. <br></p>
How can we talk to our children about what being anti-racist means?<p>I would say just simply teaching them to love and respect all human beings and that because someone looks different to us, they still breathe the same air and share this land. Love wins every time. We need to encourage our children to learn about all cultures and people.</p>
A year from now, what changes do you want to see in the world around anti-racism?<p><strong> </strong>I'd like to see more love, understanding and kindness being spread. I'd love to see more Aboriginal culture being highlighted and showcased in businesses. I'd love to see more Aboriginal representation in the media. I would love to see the Aboriginal flag on top of the Harbour Bridge.<span></span></p>
The Grace Tales is a global lifestyle platform for mothers searching for style, substance, and solidarity. Driven by creating content, community and connection, we celebrate the paradox of modern motherhood; the struggle and the beauty, the joy and the relentlessness.