If you were asked to describe your body in one word, what would you say?
Taryn Brumfitt, an Australian photographer and founder of the Body Image Movement, is out to change the disproportionately negative way that people — particularly women — view their own bodies.
Her mission started in 2012, when Brumfitt's ongoing displeasure reached the point that she was considering plastic surgery — a breast lift and a tummy tuck, to be precise. Brumfitt changed her mind when she had an epiphany: How could she teach her daughter to love her own body if she couldn't do the same?
Instead, Brumfitt entered herself into a body building competition. "It was crazy," she notes in a video poster to the Kickstarter page for her new documentary, Embrace. "I did have the perfect body, or near enough. And you know what? Nothing changed. Nothing changed about how I felt about my body."
So she did something radical. She lost the intensely-toned physique she had so carefully created. Turning mainstream perception of female body confidence on its head, Brumfitt posted a "before and after" photo to Facebook last year, in which the "before" was Brumfitt looking tanned and toned during the body-building competition, and the "after" was a confident, smiling photo of her body after going through childbirth. It was the complete opposite of typical before and after photos, like the ones posted by the now-infamous "Fit Mom" from Facebook.
Image Credit: Facebook
The fact that the photo went viral "got me thinking...the world has been brainwashed!" Brumfitt wrote on the KickStarter page. "Because heaven forbid, a woman can love her body after."
In a video for the campaign, Brumfitt asked 100 women to say the one word they associated with their bodies. The answers she received included wobbly, imperfect, stumpy, average, short, frumpy, gross, hate and disgusting, as well as a whole host of wishes to be thinner.
"Lose weight, reduce wrinkles, fight cellulite; we’re constantly told to fight a battle to be someone other than who we are," Brumfitt said. She blames "excessive photoshopping, the sexualisation of women in the media and advertising campaigns that prey on women's insecurities — it’s no wonder there is a culture of body loathing and body shaming of epidemic proportions going on in the world."
But Brumfitt hopes she can change that. She wants her documentary to teach women to embrace their body, to change public perceptions of beauty and to give a life-affirming message to women who don't look at themselves with positivity and confidence.
As Brumfitt told the Huffington Post, "Women are always being told to change or be different ... I mean really, women are such amazing and dynamic creatures can we please change the conversation from this bullsh*t to something with a little more substance?"