Embrace, the eye-opening documentary by Taryn Brumfitt, asks the tough question, "Why do so many people hate their bodies, and what can be done about it?" The film has been making waves lately because it's an incredibly beautiful story, one that encourages body acceptance and promotes positivity, but what have we really learnt from it?
It isn't just women with larger frames that struggle with body acceptance. In the documentary, Brumfitt asks women of various shapes and sizes how they feel about their bodies, and the answer is typically the same: They are dissatisfied. In fact, it's more than that, as many women are not merely unhappy with small things about their bodies, but "disgusted."
Regardless of where in the world Brumfitt visited, "All of the women and some of the men I spoke to as well had something negative to say about their body." This is something she addresses in her documentary, but the realisation of just how severe our culture of body-shaming is is heartbreaking.
Body acceptance is about a lot more than having the "perfect" body. Brumfitt trained for 15 weeks to become a body builder, and she achieved the body she had always dreamed of, but it wasn't enough to make her happy. "I trained, and I got the body, and then I discovered that it wasn't all it was cracked up to be," she told 891 ABC Adelaide's Mornings program. "When I learnt that and went on that journey, I realised so many women are looking in all of the wrong places for body acceptance and body love."
And this is the line that resonates the most: "It doesn't have anything to do with your body — it's got to do with what's in your head."
Society still feels that women's bodies are shameful, and we learnt this through the controversy that the documentary caused over something perfectly natural: nudity. The film's depiction of female genitalia (in an attempt to discuss body acceptance) caused the Australian Classification Board to pull in the reins and censor the film with an MA15+ — preventing anyone under the age of 15 from seeing it — a decision which Brumfitt slammed, as she stated the film was now being put in the same category as Fifty Shades of Grey (which really makes us roll our eyes).
"I am shocked and outraged that the Board has deemed Embrace unsuitable for under-15-year-olds for showing in an educational and informative context the range of ways a woman’s body can look," Brumfitt said on her Body Image Movement blog. "The whole point of the classification system is to protect minors from being exposed to harmful content, but what exactly is the board protecting them from? This is not rude or crude, this is natural, this is life."
This leads us to another point: why we should be speaking about the immense dissatisfaction women have with their bodies.
Brumfitt previously revealed that "70 per cent of girls are dissatisfied by their own body." This number included a shockingly high percentage of children and preteens, as "50 per cent of 5- to 12-year-old girls want to lose weight."
The film proves that we need to be having a conversation about the female body, we need to join forces to prevent the media from constantly bombarding us with unrealistic standards of beauty, and we need to change attitudes towards the perception of women's bodies.
One of the most valuable lessons Brumfitt teaches us is that your body is "not an ornament, it's a vehicle." This is something so many of us fail to realise: We should be celebrating all the amazing things our bodies do for us — running, walking, breathing, laughing... The list goes on and on.
Of all the positive mantras we should say to ourselves on a daily basis, this has to be the most valuable.
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