I feel like I’ve been waiting to see Embrace for years, I can’t remember when it was that the trailer first appeared in my Facebook feed but it’s been a while! I remember watching it and thinking ‘holy shit, this woman is going to do amazing things’ and being in tears by the time it ended. So, I swiftly hit ‘like’ on both The Body Image Movement and Embrace pages and have been eagerly following progress ever since.
Screenings have been rolling out for 6 months or so, starting with Australia and New Zealand and I was gutted to have missed out on the New Zealand screening due to work. So, when dates were announced for the London premiere, I bought two tickets and asked my lovely friend Jaimee to be my date.
Embrace is a film by Australian Taryn Brumfit, a mother of 3 and photographer who set off to try to understand why women across the globe find it so hard to be at peace with their bodies. Throughout the film, she takes us on a journey where we meet women of all shapes, sizes and walks of life. We meet a past editor of Australian Cosmopolitan Magazine who battled to include women who weren’t a size 6-8, we meet Stefania Ferrario (who I LOVE), a curve model and body positive advocate. Actresses Ricki Lake and Nora Tschirner talk about their experiences of having the unachievable standards of beauty projected onto them. We meet Australian ultra-marathon runner and mining engineer Turia Pitt who was caught in a bush fire and sustained horrific burns to her face and body, and now is a motivational speaker. And we meet Harnaam Kaur who due to the common condition of polycystic ovaries, has a full beard and learned to love and embrace it.
There’s even more wonderful women featured in this film, each with their own inspiring story. At the start of the movie, we watch as dozens of women on the street are asked to describe their body. Not one of them had something positive to say, many used the word ‘disgusting’. It was incredibly sad but also got me thinking about how not only our society and media has created these unrealistic standards, but also made it hard for women to actually admit if they have found peace and love with their bodies. If a size 16 woman comes out and says “I love my soft, curvy body!”, you’ll no doubt have people sharing their valued (NOT) medical opinions on how unhealthy being fat is. Because we have been conditioned to see ‘skinny’ as good, fat automatically becomes bad. But that’s not always the case!
I absolutely loved that in Embrace, we see Taryn completing a marathon, running down the beach and just being active because that’s what she wants to do and what caring for one’s body means. She talked about how she doesn’t run to the top of the hill to lose weight, but for the experience and for the love of being in nature. Exercising for health and finding balance in working out is something that I’ve always struggled with but Embrace has really inspired me to keep trying.
What I loved about the diversity of people interviewed was not that everyone was totally in love with their body. Because it is a journey and body confidence and self love is a muscle that needs to be worked and stretched. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns all the time. Ricki Lake (who came to fame as the star of ‘Hairspray’ in 1988), talked about her years in the media, the yo-yo dieting and how hard it was to be in the spotlight. She also mentions how even now, she would love to loose 20 pounds and when Taryn asks if she can imagine what it would be like not to worry about her weight, Ricki responds with ‘I have no idea what that would feel like’. I loved her honesty because I’m sure it’s relatable to so, so many women.
One of the saddest parts of the film is when we meet a woman who has been battling with anorexia and still isn’t recovered. The pain and suffering shows on her face and she talks about how incredibly hard it is to break out of the cycle. It was a very sobering moment, especially when we are shown ‘pro-anorexia’ websites, dedicated to providing inspiration to those with the disease. It is so heartbreaking to see someone look so fragile and to think of the part our media and societal expections has played in her story. I can only hope that she can find a way to the path of recovery.
Embrace is a thought-provoking film that made me laugh, cry and feel inspired. One of the biggest things that I’ve taken away from the film is the reminder that there is more to life than how your body looks. In my years of dieting and restriction, the misery of calorie counting, stress of eating out/socializing and obsession around food and exercise was no way to live. It was absolute torture. I’m way past that now and I hope that you aren’t going through that pain either but it serves as a great reminder that life is more than calories in and calories out.
It’s also a reminder of just how much of a problem low self esteem is amongst women and how something really does need to be done. It’s a daunting proposition but it starts with each individual changing their little part of the world around them, setting good examples and saying ‘no’ to the pressures put on us.
Not sure where to start? Taryn herself shared these tips a few days ago on BBC Breakfast and they are a fantastic way to start –
“Your body is a vehicle to achieving your dreams, not an ornament.”
Founder of the Body Image Movement Taryn Brumfitt gives us her top 5 tips for gaining a more positive view of our bodies in 2017.
Posted by BBC Breakfast on Monday, January 16, 2017
I highly recommend watching Embrace if you can, there are currently screenings all over the UK and Ireland and the DVD is already released in Australia and New Zealand. Personally, I think this is also a fantastic converstation starter for young girls and has some really important messages. If you are unsure about what age would be appropriate, there’s a Parent’s Guide on the website which is really useful.
I’m so happy to have finally watched Embrace and am so excited to see what Taryn does next. Be sure to join up on The Body Image Movement website, follow them on Facebook and most important of all… EMBRACE!
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Categories: Body Confidence