Health & Wellbeing

Body Image – Embracing versus Responsibility

October 24, 2016

A couple of weeks ago, I went and watched Embrace – The Documentary, a film by Australian mum Taryn Brumfitt about body acceptance. Brumfitt traversed the globe, interviewing women from all cultures, and there was one thing in common. That is the way that most women view their bodies…disgusting, as it may seem. The Body Image Movement began by accident, when Brumfitt posted a photo on her Facebook page, a before and after image that hit a nerve and received over 100 million views. But it wasn’t your normal before and after. In the before picture, Brumfitt had worked her (aptly described) arse off, shedding tons of weight to achieve the perfect body and entered  a body building competition. She still wasn’t happy, and after being in the competition, she realised all the women in the comp, were not happy either with their seemingly perfect bodies. When will we be happy? She thought. The after shot, is her in her natural state, glowing and beautiful, her body showing all the signs of motherhood that she previously rejected. o-taryn-brumfitt-570

Brumfitt felt compelled to act after the photo she shared online went viral, and made a documentary. The piece begins with Brumfitt’s own journey before moving onto others, discussing topics like labioplasty (yes, this is a thing), and how we criticise women, all the time. One of my favourite lines was an actress saying that her hair and make up allegedly “killed” a designer as it was so poor. I was smiling and laughing and nodding along, but secretly wishing that I could find the secret ingredient to really embrace my body.

Furthermore, I was wondering…was embracing giving up, or just not talking to yourself with hatred anymore?

I’ve been all shapes and sizes in my life, and never been perfectly happy. I’ve binged. I’ve restricted. I’ve not cared. I’ve over trained. I’ve not trained at all. I’ve always been at war with my body, one way or another. I used food as a control mechanism in my social work days. I would obsess over what I was going to eat, and then not eat anything until I added the calories first in myfitness pal with elaborate spreadsheets of how to work them off. Then, I went to therapy, and I learned to not give a shit  embrace my body. I ditched the scales. I signed up for events because I liked them, not out of guilt. I relaxed a little with food. I went on antidepressants and I relaxed some more.

Most of the time I was healthy and maintained weight for a year or two, but fast forward to now, and I’ve “embraced” so much, that I have put on 12 kilos, since I let go of my obsession. Sure, stress of The Ginger Hunk being sick for three years doesn’t help, neither do the antidepressants. My weight has crept on, my clothes have gotten tighter and tighter. I just can’t embrace it anymore. I can’t embrace the fact that my BMI is 29, and my age is showing up as 51. I’m tired and I sleep a lot. I drink to deal with stress. Running is hard and my knees hurt. So while we shouldn’t be talking about our bodies as disgusting, we shouldn’t be using the disguise of ’embracing” to abuse them either. (Nor does Brumfitt by the way, she is the picture of health and can run a freakin marathon!)

So I’ve embarked on a fitness journey again, to get back to basics. Move more, eat real food, and avoid the booze. I talked about it in my first vlog here if you missed it. But I can’t help hearing Brumfitt’s voice in my ear. I don’t want to go back to that girl, who hated her body (even though I was, on reflection in the best shape of my life).

But I don’t want to keep abusing it either as it is the only one I have.

I want to be the healthiest, best version of ME.

 THAT is what I want to embrace. 

Where are you with your body?




Much Love, Ashleigh

PS. You can check out where to see Embrace, here.  

Kylie for #IBOT

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  • Natalie @ Our Parallel Connect

    I loved embrace – it made me cry, made me think and made me feel real.

  • The BMI thing seems so low! I was 28 last time I checked but have put on a bit so would now be 29 no doubt. I loved the movie Embrace, and wrote about it on my blog too – I called it “I Don’t Hate My Body”, and #ihaveembraced. But, I don’t love my body either it’s true … we have reached an uneasy truce …

  • Great post, Ashleigh. I’ve heard so much about this documentary, I really want to see it. I am right in the middle at the moment, only just emerging from the fog of unhappiness and overwhelm that I’ve been living in for most of this year. This is something I’ve struggled with for a long time, and it always seems to be two steps forward, one step back, but at least I keep trying to take those steps and I guess that is the most important thing. Right now I’m simply trying to be kinder to myself, especially about my body, as that self-loathing thing really only makes matters worse, for me it’s a self-perpetuating cycle but I’m just going to keep trying to break it until I can get it through my thick skull!

    • I know EXACTLY how you feel. Eat bad and drink, then feel worse and eat bad and drink some more… Then it never ends. I’m doing a program now with a coach I have to check in with at 8am every day. It is keeping me on track.

  • I think the crux of it is motivation. Am I doing this because I hate my body or because I love it? I adored embrace. Such an important film.

  • Great post Asheligh. I think we also need acknowledge that we will never be totally happy with our bodies, and yes, what we should be aiming for is the healthiest version of ourselves – which of course is different for everyone.

  • This is so much where I am, too. Great post, Ashleigh!

  • Ashleigh, I LOVE this post. This is much where I am. I was the biggest I had ever been, but have been working hard for a month now to bring me in line to where I was previously. That said, I am a long way from being happy. Having said that I am working on talking to myself in a positive way and ensure I am moving and eating well each day. Along with understanding where my body is at, focusing on feeling good. xx

    • Exactly. And now I’m on a health kick, I want it all to happen now, but it took me three years to put the weight on, so it might be long to take off. I’m in a program now which is based on walking and food but you get a support team you message each morning.. it is making a big difference.

  • I think the healthiest version of you is the best you can be – you’ll feel better inside and outside. Looking forward to virtually tagging along on your virtual fitness journey!

  • Wanting to be the healthiest best version of ourselves is a good thing, both for our self esteem and our body and the way it can function at its best. As for body image issues and the way we perceive ourselves, I may not know all the answers to that one, but I do know the answers do not always look back at us from a mirror xx

  • Ha Moggie Truong

    Embrace your fitness! I have been thin most of my life (except when I was pregnant) with BMI hovers between 18.3 and 18.6, but I am very unfit: i can’t jog longer than 5 minutes (when I did i fainted, broke 3 upper front teeth, incurred $600 taking the ambulance to the emergency department from the pavement just outside Prince of Wales hospital and more $ on dental treament). I admire you for your determination, consistency and commitment in getting fit and staying fit. Honestly, I think you look gorgous always. So love your body!

    • Oh goodness! That sounds awful! Maybe start with walking and building up?

      • Ha Moggie Truong

        Yeah! I will do so after this pregnancy. The Zika situation in Singapore doesn’t allow me to go walking outdoor lately.

  • Good on you! Embracing health is the way to go. You are inspirational with your trail running by the way. I’ve got to start exercising again this week after two months of no exercise.