Flashback to April 2013, photographer Taryn Brumfitt posted a two in one transformation photo on Facebook. One showed her in a bodybuilding competition the previous May, toned, tanned and slim. The second showed her seven months later – soft, pale, and bigger. She captioned it her “non-traditional before and after photo“. Within days, it had gone viral.
Having given birth to three children, she was contemplating having a tummy tuck when she thought about the example that would set for her daughter. Instead, she decided to have a crack at getting the mythical “bikini body”. And she discovered that her fellow bodybuilders were all still complaining about imperceptible physical flaws. She ditched the extreme regime, and put on weight – and also discovered that she was finally happy with her body.
After her post, Taryn received thousands of messages from men and women who hated how they looked – in some cases to the point of suicide. “I cried so much in those early days,” she says. “It was heartbreaking.”
In response Taryn launched a Kickstarter campaign to make a film where she would find out what makes us tick, body wise. Embrace, which drops today, garnered 8,600 backers and celebrity support from Ashton Kutcher, Rosie O’Donnell and Zooey Deschanel. On the flipside, Facebook banned her film’s poster and trailer, making that grass roots support a struggle, and Australia rated the film 15 due to a scene discussing genital surgery with a Beverley Hills plastic surgeon that depicts images of vulvas, which means the film cannot be shown in schools. Regardless, it’s now one of Australia’s most successful-ever documentaries.
As well as meeting photographers, doctors and campaigners, Taryn’s interviewees include viral success stories such as the author Jes Baker (who made the Abercrombie + Fitch parody, Attractive + Fat); London model and anti-bullying campaigner Harnaam Kaur, who has overactive hair growth from polycystic ovary syndrome; and celebrities like Amanda De Cadenet and Ricki Lake, whose own struggle with body acceptance is well-documented.
But it’s not all tears. A glorious confidence fills the film: one beautiful girl, an athlete who was badly burned in a bushfire, says that it was “lucky” her longterm partner stayed with her, then happily corrects herself. “I suppose it’s not luck. I’m pretty awesome.” Watch the Trailer below;
See Embrace in cinemas across the UK from 16th January
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