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Here’s what happens when women decide to love themselves

Taryn Brumfitt first made a broad impact online with her response to Maria Kang’s controversial “What’s your excuse?” image. Then she quit her day job to focus on her growing mission, the Body Image Movement.

The Body Image Movement is “on a quest to redefine and rewrite the ideals of beauty.” It aims to do this through body acceptance, positive body talk, and prioritizing health over beauty.

Brumfit’s approach is to show herself, warts and all. She bravely presents herself as real as possible, growing older and after having children.

[media url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2SBUFMp7co#t=23”]

I love Brumfit’s message, because I think it’s very inspiring and important to put positive and alternative representations of women out there in the media. There is immense power in telling personal stories, and creating community through shared experience.

She talks about her decision to start the Body Image Movement: “In 2012, while contemplating my impending plastic surgery which would make my breasts perky plus neatly tuck away that excess fat on my stomach, I had an epiphany. If I go through with this, what am I saying to my daughter about body image? How will I teach her to love her body? How am I going to encourage her to accept and love her body, when I am standing in front of her with a surgically enhanced body? What type of hypocrite or mother would I be?”

This focus on being positive about her own body to set an example for her daughter is a powerful one.

As a mother myself, I feel the constant pressure to “bounce back after baby,” and it’s great to see a dissenting voice gaining so much publicity. Brumfit’s philosophy is a welcome reminder that what we say about our own bodies can absolutely affect those around us.

The Body Image Movement web site is full of other refreshingly honest and personal writing about body image and the post-pregnancy body.

She has already making a huge impact on me, and it looks like her influence is starting to spread around the world.

Tessa Needham finished her PhD in Performing Arts at the University of Western Sydney (Australia) in 2008. Her thesis explored the potential of performance to provoke change, and part of her research was Bodily, a solo theatrical performance about body image. She loves technology and the creative arts, and is passionate about the different cultural forces affecting the body image of girls and women. She teaches computers and does freelance creative work: www.tessaneedham.com.

8 thoughts on “Here’s what happens when women decide to love themselves

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  1. at 9:59 pm

    She said she wasn’t glorifying obesity, maybe you should do an article about what is wrong with this phrase. Such as there seems to be no problem with glorifying bodies that may be the result of starvation eating disorders.

    The reality that someone can’t stand up for naturally fat bodies without assuring people they’re not glorifying obesity just sends the message that it’s still seen as healthier for fat people to starve themselves thin, instead of loving their bodies as they are.

    Change won’t happen if we keep hand holding sizeists and coddling them with the lullaby of “Don’t worry the fat people aren’t going to win.” If people can’t handle bodies of all sizes should be glorified the problem is with them. Treating bigots like fragile children who need to be reassured so they don’t throw a tantrum may keep you from criticism, but it does nothing to further body acceptance.

    Lets stop walking on eggshells to keep immature fat haters comfortable, and start forcing them to realize no matter how long they kick and scream, hold their breath, jump up and down singing schoolyard bully taunts, they will not stop the acceptance of fat people.

  2. Hi Jackie,

    Thanks for your comment. I’m not completely sure who it is directed at, though. Are you upset that, in the article you mention, Brumfit uses the sentence: “Now don’t get me wrong, before all you health nuts have a crack at me for promoting obesity.”?

    I didn’t take this to mean that she was “coddling” “sizeists.” Instead, I took it to mean that she was trying to keep detractors on the track of the main message of her article, not getting sidetracked by that argument.

    I’m not sure why you are commenting about that article on this article, though. I would encourage you to look at all the positives Brumfit is bringing to the body image conversation, rather than getting hung up on one sentence.

  3. I’m shocked a site dedicated to body acceptance would be so dismissive of the concerns of someone concerned about the pathologization of fat people regarding obesity.

    I cannot ignore someone who is trying to please those who have a history of discrimination and prejudice towards fat people, by addressing their concerns as if they are valid. There are other ways of avoiding a conversation from going into a place you don’t want it to, like saying “Let’s remember all bodies can be healthy no matter what size.”

    Brumfit does have positive points to her message, it’s wrong to suggest that we ignore she brought up a very hurtful word used to oppress people with fat bodies to gain the acceptance of fitness minded people.

    I’m disappointed in you, I thought you would know better than the other places that claim to be for body acceptance but really mean let’s talk about how everyone should love their bodies, and tell people who point out the faults of people who profess to do so half-heartedly that they’re negative, and no one cares.

    It’s not just one sentence. It is a lifetime of being the go to body type for ridicule. It is doctors who hold prejudice against fat people that cause them to face medical mistreatment. The term obesity assumes all fat people are sick, it is a word born of prejudice. I would think someone who truly believes in loving all bodies would know not to use it.

  4. Hi Jackie,

    I think you misunderstand me. I am not being dismissive – rather, I know that Brumfit has a huge body of work on exactly the topic that we should love and accept bodies no matter their size. Just because this particular article is about something different, that doesn’t mean she needs to address that point again here.

    Perhaps you’re right; she could have said it in a different way. But I don’t believe that she meant it the way you think she did, and I think that arguing about that detracts from her actual message.


  5. First off, let me say that I appreciate what Brumfit is trying to say. I think that she has the right message, and unfortunately, any talk whatsoever about fat acceptance in any way, shape or form is immediately misconstrued as “promoting obesity” by all the haters out there. That being said, I understand completely where Jackie is coming from. The fat haters have no problem with stomping all over the feelings of their victims, but we are expected to make nice with them in order to be seen as”reasonable and fair”. She’s right that all too often, our body type is the go to for ridicule and derision, and we need to be able to take a stand against fat hatred without apology. I hope that you will continue to stand with us as we fight for the right to live our lives free from stigma and discrimination. This is a fight that impacts ALL of us, no matter what our body size is.

  6. Denise, thank you for your comment. About-Face is committed to promoting positive body image, no matter what the size or shape of that body. Thanks for recognising that we are on board with that mission. It’s worth noting that Brumfitt absolutely is, as well.

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