At the end of last year, when I was 8 months pregnant, I went to a screening of Embrace the documentary. It is based on a movement about positive body image, founded by Taryn Brumfitt. While I have had my share of body image issues, they have been quite mild compared to some. The messages conveyed in this documentary and Taryn’s book of the same name, still struck a cord and moved me to tears. I was left inspired, empowered and deeply loving my body exactly how it is. I am not going to give a play-by-play of the documentary here, as I believe every human being on the planet needs to see it for themselves. I am however, going to share with you what I personally learnt and how I plan on using the empowering messages on myself and with my sons.
My Take Aways
- “The perfect body” is a myth – as someone who competed in a body building competition with other women – women with the type of body other’s want – Taryn reported that the conversations she heard among the other participants were heavily shrouded in self-criticism and hating the way they looked. Meaning even if you have what society deems as “the perfect body,” those that have it aren’t any happier than the rest of us and still want to change the way they look.
- Magazines promote body image issues – Mia Freedman, founder of Mama Mia stated that the women in popular women’s magazine are “aliens;” they aren’t real. Why? They are so extensively photoshopped it is difficult to see the real woman the image originally started as. She also said that designers, makeup artists and photographers do not like putting their name with larger size models or shoots. All this gives an extremely unrealistic view of what a real woman looks like. As a result many of us are consumed by anxiety trying to get “the perfect body,” and when we fail, we fall hard. Sometimes turning to binge eating, no eating, eating and purging, etc just to “fit in.”
These images are also showing us, particularly young men and women, what their body should look like. Not only that it is showing us what we should expect each other to look like. The human body is not meant to look like the photoshopped women on the front of magazines. They are false perceptions. Perceptions that keep us locked in a perpetual and vicious cycle of striving for a perfect body that does not naturally exist.
- Diets cause weight gain – now this is something I have known for a while, when I studied EFT. The third biggest cause of weight gain is dieting. Taryn points out that she doesn’t like any word that starts with “die” and I would have to agree. By depriving our body and calorie counting, we are actually telling our body to store fat instead of burn it because the body thinks it is in survival mode. We become lethargic because we don’t have the energy to do everything. Therefore we sit on our bums instead of exercising and we gain weight instead of lose it. It becomes a perpetual cycle.
Instead of focusing on diets, we need to focus on eating healthy. What am I putting in my body? Natural food will always give us more energy than processed food. Will it fuel my body or deplete it? Fruits, vegetables and nuts will fuel your body’s cells, refined and processed food will deplete the nutrients. Do I feel full? Many of us have beliefs that we need to finish everything on our plate even when we feel full. Put the fork down, back away and tune into your body to determine whether you really need those last few bites.
- Society is more concerned about what a body looks like, instead of whether it is healthy – as a society we are so consumed about what a person looks like, instead of asking; are they healthy? A person who has a thin frame is labelled as skinny and told to eat more; a person who has a solid frame is labelled as fat and told to eat less. You can’t win. Instead of focusing on body shape and size, what we should really concentrate on is whether the person is healthy. You can look “skinny” and be unhealthy, and look “fat” and be healthy; and vice versa. It’s time to lay the image judgment aside and support one another in living a healthy life, instead of trying to live a life striving to look like the fake image on the front of a magazine.
- Happiness comes from within – as I mentioned in the first point, even those with seemingly “perfect bodies” are still unhappy with the way they look. So bottom line is being happy is a state of mind, it comes from within. We are so absorbed with finding our happiness out there by seeking the approval of others, that what we fail to realise is this:
Happiness is a choice we make.
Yep, you read that right. In every given moment you can choose to be happy or choose to be angry, sad and every other emotion under the sun. You have the power to choose to be happy with yourself and how you look. If you let others dictate your happiness and how you should look, you are giving your power away. The next time you look in the mirror be happy with the way you look, you might not think it’s true, but as the saying goes “fake it ‘til you make it.” Start by focusing on the things you love about yourself; your eyes, your hair, your skin.
How I Embraced Myself
As I mentioned above I was 8 months pregnant with my second child when I saw this incredible documentary. I will be the first to admit that it empowered me in such a way, that all my insecurities washed away down the drain when I got home afterwards and had a shower. A lot of pressure is put on Mums post-birth to achieve their pre-pregnancy bodies. The way I see it is once you give birth to a baby your body will never be the same as it was before pregnancy. During pregnancy your body goes through massive changes. Changes that grew another human being, which is in my opinion a very miraculous occurrence. So after enduring 9 months of a changing body, as a tiny little human grows inside you, how can you expect your body to be the same once your beautiful bundle enters the world?
After I had my first son my butt/hips went up a size. After I had my second son my butt went up a size above that. My pre-pregnancy body once existed…almost 5 years ago! Do I wish my body looked like it did then? Nope I don’t because if it did, it would mean I didn’t have 2 beautiful children.
When I look in the mirror I don’t see stretch marks or a bigger arse. I see an amazing body that through the challenges of pregnancy was able to grow and birth 2 healthy children.
Even though I have 2 boys, it doesn’t mean I am not going to teach them about positive body image and loving who you are. Men have physical insecurities too, and as mentioned above the way women are portrayed in magazines gives everyone a false sense of self. The way I am going to teach my sons to love who they are and how they look is by being a role model. By loving and accepting myself. If I start analysing and pointing out my flaws, then they will wonder if they have the same flaws. To me they are beautiful exactly as they are; inside and out. And so am I.
What do you love about yourself and your body? Leave a comment below.
If you haven’t seen Embrace yet click here to find out more.