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The road to self acceptance is a long but triumphant journey

May 15, 2017

By Brenda Matchett

There’s only so much you can say in 140 characters or in a four minute television interview, so what happens when you’re bursting with so much more that you want to say? So much more you need to say in order to create global change? A born storyteller, Taryn Brumfitt knew there was only one way to share her journey from self loathing to self acceptance. Introducing Embrace, the documentary.
Last week I had the pleasure of attending Embrace with my 12-year-old daughter, Brooklyn. I have always enjoyed attending self-empowerment and self-improvement seminars, and being able to attend with my daughter was an incredible experience.
Embrace is a documentary on body image issues that are seen and felt in people of all body types. It is told from the point of view of Taryn as she travelled the globe talking to experts, women in the street and well-known personalities about the alarming rates of body image issues. She bares all (literally) in this documentary to explore the factors contributing to this problem and seeks to find solutions.
After posting a non-traditional ‘before’ and ‘after’ photo on social media, Taryn became the instant focus of media attention the world over. People were
astonished – how could a woman possibly love her body ‘after’, with the visible signs of bearing three children? Many applauded her for her bravery in posting such raw imagery while many berated her for promoting obesity, going as far as labelling her a poor role model for her kids.
This got Taryn to thinking. The culture of body loathing and body shaming had reached epic
proportions worldwide.
Lose weight, reduce wrinkles, fight cellulite; we’re constantly told to fight a battle to be someone other than who we are. Women and girls are constantly lead to believe they’re not as good as they should be. And why? Because every day they feel they’re being judged on their appearance and reminded how far away it is to an unachievable ideal.
The image, which embraces body diversity, was seen by over 100 million people worldwide and led to hundreds of interviews and articles. “I soon realized how restrictive four-minute TV interviews, 800 word articles and 140 characters on Twitter can be. This issue needed a louder voice on a bigger platform, so the idea of creating the documentary Embrace was born,” stated Taryn on her website.
The reason I was eager to attend with my daughter was because I have suffered from body image issues my entire life, not just since having my three children. From a young age I remember my mom and other women who I looked up to always talking about their bodies. Always on a diet. Never happy with their body shape – which was either too big or too small, too tall or too short, too wide, too thin. I think when you grow up hearing that, it is embedded in you to never be
satisfied with your body. Having grown up that way, how am I going to teach my children to love themselves and their bodies?
My children have seen me try every fad diet out there just to lose weight and gain it back. They have watched me laugh off compliments, call myself down and never be happy with my body, my scars, stretch marks and now the inevitable signs of aging. A negative perception of our own body is both destructive and unhealthy and can result in a damaged sense of self or poor self esteem. So the message here is – accept your body.
Embrace explores the issue of body image and is funny, touching, and at times, gut wrenching, but above all, life changing. I found it incredible to listen to Taryn’s story on how she went from a body hater to a body lover. From being devastated by her perceived
ugliness, to proudly posing nude for the whole world to see.
As I watched I sat in my seat and felt tears sliding down my cheeks. I felt I was watching a video about my story. I felt her pain and her feeling of hopelessness
because it is exactly how I had felt for so long. Even after she went on a severe diet and spent so much time away from her family working out so she could get to a point where she entered into a fitness competition, she still had self loathing. While on stage instead of feeling proud of her accomplishment she discovered that her, along with the other women up on stage, still felt
imperfect and critical of themselves. She realized that it was time to make a change and start living her life, instead of trying to be someone else and live up to an ideal that was non-existent.
When we compare ourselves to the women in the pages of glamour magazines, we are comparing ourselves to women who have been photoshopped to make them look better, thinner, fitter, sexier. Even the women in those magazines don’t look like their photos.
For quite some time I have been working on loving myself more and my body ­– not just the good, but the flaws as well. I am a work in progress, but I am slowly
getting there. Taryn, the infectious voice behind The Body Image Movement, shifts the way women think about themselves, and in turn, feel about their bodies. Embrace will challenge you to reconsider the relationship you have with your body, but above all, will inspire you to embrace a life without boundaries so that you too can love the skin you’re in. I would recommend it to
everyone. Thank you to the Maple Leaf Theatre for showing this documentary and thank you Kylee Tonita for the group discussion afterward. I left feeling
empowered and loving myself just a little bit more. :)

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