ACT News


Taryn Brumfitt heads to Canberra to show her new film Embrace

Most before and after photos show a depressed overweight person in the before picture and a euphoric thin person in the after shot.

Taryn Brumfitt turned that little paradigm on its head when one Sunday evening she posted on Facebook a before photo of her looking sleek and toned and an after shot looking bigger and curvier.

Up Next

Trailer: Whitney: Can I Be Me

Video duration

More Trailers Videos

Trailer: Embrace

A documentary following body image activist Taryn Brumfitt's crusade as she explores the global issue of body loathing, inspiring us to change the way we feel about ourselves and think about our bodies.

It was captioned: "Be loyal to your body, love your body. It's the only one you've got".

Taryn, against all expectations, was happier in her "after" picture.

Having the "perfect body" of the before picture took too much time, too much physical and mental energy, too many hours away from her family.


Her "non-traditional" before and after pictures went viral, ultimately seen by an astounding more than 100 million people - and counting.

They sparked a wildfire of comment on social media and interest from around the world. Taryn was interviewed by media from the US to Russia.

Thousands of people emailed her with their own stories of battling their body and wanting to know how she had learned to love hers.

It led Taryn, a mum-of-three and photographer from Adelaide, to ultimately set up the Body Image Movement to "redefine and rewrite the ideals of beauty".

And from that, has come Taryn's documentary, Embrace, her journey across the world to understand why so many women loathe their body and how they can come to love it.

The documentary was funded through a Kickstarter campaign. The bare-bones budget required was $200,000. She ended up receiving almost $350,000 from more than 8000 backers. Celebrities from Ashton Kutcher to Ricki Lake were among those who contributed.

Cooma-based fashion business Birdsnest donated $8000 to the doco and has ended up also collaborating with Taryn on t-shirts and jewellery to celebrate the film's release (more on that later).

Embrace details Taryn's own journey, from "a body hater to a body lover" . She initially despised her body as it changed after the birth of each of her three children.

To her, it was "hideous".

She even booked in to have plastic surgery to "fix" her body. But at the last moment cancelled it as she watched her young daughter play and considered what kind of message she was sending her.

Then she went on a 15-week odyssey to achieve the "perfect" body, training for a body building contest that meant changing her diet, being in the gym at five every morning, weighing food, "obsessing on the scales".

"It was my social experiment to discover how it would feel to have the perfect body, because I was plagued with that thought after I decided not to do the plastic surgery," she said.

She did make the body building contest - where the "before" bikini shot was taken. But in that moment, she did not feel happy or satisfied or fulfilled. Far from it.

Instead, she realised that the quest for the perfect body was just not worth it.

Taryn decided then and there, she would instead respect and honour her body. Be healthy "on her terms". Food was to be enjoyed. Exercise was a part of life. But not her whole life.

Embrace also took her on a literal journey around the world over nine weeks talking to women about their body.

And, again, she has attracted interest worldwide.

The end result is an often heartbreaking film showing women torturing themselves because they feel their body falls short of the ideal.

But it is also inspiring and empowering as Taryn talks to women who won't bow to what is "expected". And, as one woman puts it,works to "make the positive contagious".

Speaking to Fairfax Media from a taxi before heading off to New Zealand during her frenetic PR campaign for the film, Taryn said she had been blown away by the response to Embrace.

"I mean, last night in Perth, the cinema owner and the PR person who'd been doing it for 25 years said they'd never seen a response like that after doing a film, it was standing ovation," she said.

"And people are just so connected to this film because of how they feel about themselves and their issues, their battle, with body image. So it's been incredible."

The whole film project took two years to complete and Taryn was "overjoyed" with the result.

"I mean you never know until you're sitting in the cinema listening to people gasping, crying, laughing. You just don't know until that point. So I'm thrilled to be here and, of course, it's all been worth it," she said.

"It's doing what I always intended this film to do - making a positive impact on women. It's starting a conversation.

"I think that's what's most important to me: that we start a new, fresh, positive conversation about our bodies and take the first steps towards embracing and unconditionally loving our bodies."

It"s probably no surprise that the Body Image Movement and Birdsnest have collaborated. The Cooma- based online fashion house has always supported women, full stop. Regardless of their size, age or background.

"I've met many brands along the way and had many offers but I will only work with brands that are very authentic and they are so behind their woman. It's a great, great partnership," Taryn said.

Birdsnest founder Jane Cay said Taryn's message struck a chord with her and she wanted to be part of spreading the word.

For its part, Birdsnest is looking to use even more models from diverse backgrounds and has put a stop to all photoshopping of its images.

"We're saying no to photoshopping of any women's features – so all curves, laugh lines, crows feet and freckles are staying in our shots," Jane said.

"And we're giving Embrace merchandise a home on our site, creating and selling tees and jewellery with proceeds going directly toward the Body Image Movement with a focus on their education and social outreach programs."

And what of Taryn's life now? She and husband Mathew have three children - Oliver, 10; Cruz, eight and Mikaela, six. She has a small team helping to spread the message of the Body Image Movement. The requests for speaking engagements keep rolling in. A few months ago, she was presenting at Google's headquarters in San Francisco.

"Sometimes it's hard to believe it's all happened," she said.

"But I want to be doing this for the rest of my life because it's such a big problem."

And what of the inspiration for all this? Does little Mikaela have any idea of what she has sparked?

"She's still in a bubble, her six-year-old bubble, which is delightful," Taryn said.

"But what it's doing for her is that it's building a foundation of values for her that are not based on how she looks, but rather what she does and how she contributes.

"She may not know it now, but we're working very hard to ensure that the marketeers and global corporations and the brands that prey on women's insecurities, and young girl's insecurities, that they don't infiltrate her.

"That she doesn't buy into the messages that tell her that she should be something other than who she is."

Taryn Brumfitt will be in Canberra on August 18 for two screenings of Embrace at the Palace Electric Cinema in New Acton, at 6pm and 8.30pm. Taryn will conduct a Q and A session after each screening, which are being presented by Birdsnest. Tickets for the 6pm screening here and 8.30pm screening here.