As a writer and mentor focused on teaching ease and self empowerment to others, I think it is important to share all resources and be willing to talk on many different topics.
I was blessed the other night to attend a screening of EMBRACE.
EMBRACE is a movie that helps create ease in the lives of women.
As I had flicked through a review beforehand and saw it was a documentary about women’s body image, I was only mildly interested, but as it was an event and fundraiser organized by and for our local Women’s Centre which does a wonderful job in our local community, I wanted to go.
I had thought, “Great, a film about fat shaming, eating disorders and media images of women’s bodies”, *yawn*. “It’s not like any of us gets to escape that stuff. I’m not sure what any movie can teach me about this”.
It’s funny how our pre-conceptions can be so wrong and where this film is concerned, I am delighted to say, I was completely so.
Within moments of the opening scene, there was an intensity in the room and I felt very emotional which caught me by surprise. The engaging, vulnerable way in which Aussie Taryn Brumfitt draws you in with her story, is well, powerful. She is warm, so real, bubbly and open and the stark imagery of air brushed models on the billboards, starving stick figures on the catwalk cast against the truth of what she was saying, really hit home for me on a deep level.
I found myself sitting there riveted. And, not just riveted, but entertained, engaged emotionally, energetically and from an interest point of view too. As a woman, I couldn’t help but relate to what I was seeing and hearing.
Boredom was totally OFF the menu.
For the next 90 minutes, I was touched, heartbroken, amused, bemused, stunned, uplifted, enlightened and relieved. I was glad to see someone else’s take on it all, to share their journey, see the thoughtful and beautiful way that the movie was put together and most of all, there was this weird sense of connection to her subjects, the other people seated around me who also appeared deeply engaged and to Taryn herself.
Taryn’s courage in telling her story was impressive, her dedication to helping others apparent and what was awesome to witness, was her inner light that shone out, providing a source of inspiration to everyone else involved.
It all began for her after the birth of her third baby, she was unhappy with the new and altered state of her body, which had changed both functionally and aesthetically. After considering surgery and abandoning that idea because of the message it would send her daughter, Taryn decided to enter a body building competition to create a different body and one that she liked better.
Several months after achieving her ‘goal’ and discovering that having the perfect ‘packaging’ didn’t make her or any of the other competitors any happier. she made a decision to let go of the rigid control and reigime of diet and exercise to get her life back and just focus on a functional, healthy body instead.
One day she popped up a before and after photo of her experiences on Facebook. It wasn’t a post baby body followed by a body building one, it was a body building perfection one, followed by a now one of her natural, post baby, healthy, but slightly altered, natural shape.
Taryn’s before and after photos went viral. What left her gobsmacked were the tens of thousands of replies she received from women around the world thanking her and saying how much they hated, yes HATED their own bodies and were grateful for her post and message.
As a result of the thousands of messages she received, she decided to make a two month trip around the world to talk with key figures, inspirational and successful women and fashion and beauty industry leaders to discover why women hate themselves so much and what could help change it. The result was her movie and for her a journey to an inner calm and happiness with her own body and its image.
This is in stark contrast with many of the hateful and ignorant comments from around the globe that people saw fit to make on Taryn’s post and about a woman’s body and journey into motherhood.
They reeked of abuse, self-hatred, manifesting in contempt of others and unconscious entrainment to an externally imposed ideal that is an illusion.
That illusion is a photo shopped, flawless fantasy, created by magazines and wealthy fashionistas to which we have all subscribed either willingly, reluctantly or even subconsciously to one degree or another.
As the movie commentary said, there is so much pressure on women to be sexy, superwomen, slim, desirable, never look tired, to become yummy mummies and in this sense our worth is always overtly or covertly tied in with our looks. Any time we call a girl or women ‘pretty’ we are teaching her that this is where her value and power lies.
Like every women, I am not immune to this. And it seems I find this very sad.
As the movie unfolded, I cried quite a bit.
I felt devastated, not only personally for the pain I experienced as a younger woman dealing with eating disorders, but for my mother who has experienced eating disorders that have landed her with severe, disabling spinal fractures due to years of self-imposed starvation. This sadness extended to all young women who temper their natural sense of self, expression of joy, self love, enjoyment of food and feelings of worth with self contempt, based on comparison to an ideal of how others tell them they should look.
As many of those interviewed on the film had worked out, you can ascribe to creating your own physical perfection, but ultimately it takes all your time, effort, energy and focus. There is no more miserable place to inhabit, then being an inauthentic version of yourself focused entirely on making your packaging more desirable to others.
What I liked best about EMBRACE was it’s rawness, the vulnerability of participants and the sense of empowerment and genuineness from their interactions. The participants were carefully chosen with their stories woven into the bigger picture with grace, charm, humour and kindness. In doing so, it was able to reach an audience of thousands (hopefully millions) and make a real impact.
Some of the uplifting and positive messages I liked towards the end were that “Real beauty is about choosing to rock what you’ve been given the best way you can”. We also heard “I know that I am beautiful no matter what others say and that makes me feel good”. “I could have decided to lie down and die, but I decided to make the most of the life I have instead”. Their message was backed up by their bravery in choosing to live in accordance with their messages in spite of challenges that others might see as devastating.
One of these women were a former model who had suffered a debilitating brain tumour that paralysed one side of her body, another had devastating burns and there was a stunningly beautiful women with facial hair who had decided to keep it rather than constantly remove it to please others. There was also the quirky and funny German actress who joked upon receiving a bad review of her appearance at an awards ceremony said “Oh no! I wore the wrong make up with the designer’s dress, the world might end” LOL!!
It was refreshing to see how these inspirational woman chose to go about their lives and the inner work they had done to find their peace. There was so much beauty and freedom in their choices. It is a freedom we all have to decide how we see things and how we want to choose for ourselves. Many of us are lucky that we don’t have a worst case scenario to prompt our thinking as some of these women did.
I left with a sense of oneness. That our issues are all so similar despite our individual lives and circumstances. This movie is one that is relevant to all woman and it was great to see a few men at the screening. Somehow I feel that if more men could see this movie, the world would be a much better place.