The NZIFF is showing a documentary called Embrace which follows Taryn Brumfitt’s struggle and success in coming to terms with her postnatal body.
She travels to nine different countries talking to wonderful woman all over the world, some perfectly healthy, some with physical disabilities or medical anomalies; all of whom have grown to love themselves and are helping others to do the same.
As someone not far out of high school, I distinctly remember the rift between what I thought my body should look like and what it was. I have always been a size ten, and yet I remember going on every fad diet, some 500 calories a day, sometimes starving. I remember running twice a day on no food and I remember taking cold showers to boost my metabolism. I’m ashamed to say I remember searching for “thinspiration” websites.
Fortunately this was a short lived period in my life. On National Diabetes Day, a friend of mine wrote a facebook status and asked everybody to take a moment to thank their pancreas for producing insulin. I thought, damn straight, my pancreas is a boss. In fact, my whole body is pretty freaking amazing.
It puts up with everything I do and have done to it, from clumsiness to starvation to salt, sugar & alcohol. It moves, is painless and healthy. It wasn’t an instant change, but eventually I got to appreciate my body. The photoshopped dolls in the magazines became a small, redundant detail in my life.
Virtually every story in Embrace is the same, these woman hated their bodies to a point where they had to consciously change the story. I admire many of the people who overcame insecurities about things much less accepted than my size ten body. Haarnam Kaur who due to hormonal abnormalities, grows a beard; Renee Airya who had a brain tumour removed and half her face paralyzed.
This is a movie that everybody should see, not just woman. It is too easy to forget that boys and men suffer from body pressures too. It is a perspective-changing, insightful story – a step back from the media saturation of modern life.
I wish I could go back to my teenage self and show her what I know now - beauty is confidence and soulfulness and kindness and the million other things you can offer the world.