Melissa goes to see Embrace

If you haven’t heard about the Embrace documentary I think you must have been living under a rock. Since its release in the last couple of months I’ve been seeing lots on social media about it so when I saw Meagan from This is Meagan Kerr and Monique from Dressing Up were holding a screening in Auckland I had to go. Taryn Brumfitt created this amazing documentary and body image movement all from a, not quite what you would expect, before and after picture she posted of herself on Facebook.

Taryn was seriously considering cosmetic surgery to ‘fix’ what had happened to her body after having three children but decided against it when she realised the kind of message that would send to her daughter. Instead of surgery she decided to work on her attitude towards her body and this has now extended to a worldwide movement to try and change society’s views and acceptance at large of our own bodies and the diversity and differences between us all.

Unfortunately, the media is a huge cultivator, driver and reinforcer of the messaging we receive surrounding what our bodies should look like and what is acceptable. This is unfortunate because it is a very narrow and prescribed version of beauty we are presented with. They tout and reinforce the notion that thin=healthy and we have research that’s proving this isn’t the case. We should all know by now that body size does not equal health. I love how one of Taryn’s main focusses now is on what she can do with her body and that she celebrates what it can do for her instead of how it looks.

If you do or have ever struggled with your body image I really encourage you to go and see this documentary. Even if you personally haven’t struggled it’s still a really good eye opener about the things we need to be aware of when raising our children in today’s media heavy environment. We need to try not to teach our children that their looks are what is most valuable and important and will define their success. I think most of my readers will totally get this because being overweight, therefore not meeting the current definition of beauty in our society) and discriminated against you already know this isn’t true.

I haven’t ever really struggled with my body image because to be quite honest I’ve never really cared what other people think about my body. Awesome work Mum and Dad in teaching me that my worth is defined by far more than what I look like! It really broke my heart to hear some of the things the ladies in the film said because I hate to think anyone stops themselves doing anything they want to in life because of the way they look or a physical flaw they perceive themselves to have.

What I really related to though was the struggle of trying to bring a child up in this world and somehow stopping the constant messages of what bodies are acceptable getting to them and helping them overcome it. I have some rules I live by that I hope will help my son not place any of his self-worth on his looks. I don’t talk about my body in a negative way in front of him, ever but since seeing embrace I am going to try not to talk about my body as little as possible. I have no idea what goes on in his brain in regards to me but I’m pretty sure he thinks I’m wonderful and it would be a revelation to him if he heard me slate my body in any way.

We also all need to stop talking about and discussing other people’s bodies in front of our children. We need to lead by example and by doing this we are teaching them that bodies are something that can and should be criticised. When we’re talking about things we do for and to maintain our health we need to frame it in terms of how great exercise makes us feel and how fantastic we feel when we eat beautiful, nourishing food. This plays a huge part in how our kids end up thinking about these things for years to come. We need to remember that our kids are sponges and they pay way more attention to us and what we do than we even realise and that demonstrating these healthy habits and attitudes starts at home.

I appreciate my body for what it can do and the journey it’s been on. My body has been through a lot and it shows but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful or worthy of acceptance. When people tell me I’m brave for posting photos of my tummy on Instagram or my Facebook page I really don’t think I am. It’s my body, I’m not ashamed of it and it goes to show how far we have gone in expecting images only of bodily perfection to be shown in public. I encourage all of you to post unfiltered, unedited pictures of yourselves to social media more often to help get more representations of the diverse beauty that there is in the world out there. We have the power with social media to change the stream of perfect images we are presented with and put something out there that’s real and beautiful.

Is body acceptance something you have struggled with in the past? What do you think influenced the acceptance of your own body the most? Have you seen Embrace? Has weight loss surgery changed how you think and feel about your body? Comment below I’d love to know what you think.

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