Body positive psychologist Glenn Mackintosh interviews Director of “Embrace” & Founder of the Body Image Movement, Taryn Brumfitt. In Part 1 of this 3 Part Series, Taryn and Glenn discuss:
✔︎ Why EMBRACE has become part of Glenn’s work with clients (it’s a real must see!)
✔︎ That as a society we are over hating our bodies.
✔︎ How health professionals are as ready for change as their clients!
✔︎ Taryn’s surprise when achieving a bikini body actually made her miserable
✔︎ Her “Reverse Before-and-After” shot that went VIRAL & “broke people’s brains”
✔︎ How you can Embrace the miracle of your body…no matter what it looks like
✔︎ What “Embrace” means to Taryn & just how good it feels (hellooo energy!)
✔︎ Why it’s important for us to connect and share our stories
✔︎ Why you shouldn’t allow toxic messages (just because they are on your phone).
✔︎ How we can use our social media for the power of GOOD!
✔︎ Taryn’s favourite people to follow in the body positive community.
Look forward to the next two parts of the series where we:
- Explore the practical “how-tos” of body positivity (Part 2), &
- Deep dive into how body positivity relates to eating, movement, & weight (Part 3)
Links from Video:
Follow Taryn on Instagram
Follow Glenn on Instagram
“If Not Dieting, Then What?” Book
“Health at Every Size” Book
Watch “Embrace” Documentary
Taryn’s Viral “Before & After” Shot
Embrace Yourself Book
Dr Emma Johnston
Welcome to the Glenn Macintosh show where we talk everything psychology of eating physical movement weight and body image and speaking of body image we have the one the only Taryn Brumfitt. Now, Taryn is a best-selling author and director of the social change documentary Embrace. If you haven’t seen it you need to see it. Honestly when I’m doing body image work it does half my therapy for me. Taryn’s global crusade to end body dissatisfaction has seen her recognised by the United Nations Women, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls and the Geena Davis Institute.
Whether it’s motivating the next generation at Google HQ or becoming General Electric’s highest-rated speaker
Taryn’s determination to shift the way the world thinks about themselves and their bodies has the support of high-profile personalities like Rosie O’Donnell Ricki Lake and Ashton Kutcher named alongside Beyonce and Emma Watson in Bridget’s magazines Woman of the Year. Taryn’s powerful message has reached over 100
million people by the likes of The Washington Post The Doctors Good Morning America and the Today Show. Taryn lives in Adelaide with her husband Matthew three children one dog one turtle and ten fish and you can find out all about this if you follows if you follow Taryn’s Instagram account its Body Image Movement. Taryn, I love your Instagram account it is one of the few that every time you have a post I look to it so guys if you if you want to do yourselves a favour check out Taryn’s Instagram it’s so warm such great messages on there but it’s a lot of fun. So without further ado Taryn thank you so much for being with us!
Oh thanks for having me, you’re making me quite nervous with that intro!
Well that’s okay because we are really nervous to have you!
Well and you know the turtle ate three fish so I need to update that, there’s only seven left!
It’s so interesting you should say that because I was actually thinking I wonder in my family if we could actually keep a like a tally on our fish I know that we had some guinea pigs and mum left my twin brother alone with both of them and…
Not so good?
Yeah it wasn’t too good.
But anyway we’re not here to talk about that we’ve just put back my therapy a couple of years! What we are here to talk about is body image and honestly Taryn I can’t think of a better person to talk about than this than you so we’re going to spend some time and we’re going to talk about Taryn’s personal journey because you’ve got a really powerful personal story.
Now you can see a lot about that in Embrace documentary you can read a lot about it and Embrace Yourself your new book but I think it’s important that we talk about it, then what we’re going to do is turns agreed to spend some time with us and really look at some of the how to’s of a positive body image I think that due to the work of Taryn and some other wonderful body positive advocates people are ready to become body positive it’s something we’re becoming familiar with but then we have to ask that question of how do I actually do it and Taryn’s work it has some great how to’s that I really want to take you guys through. Of course you know my guys are really interested in white a lot of the guys I work with live in larger bodies so we’re gonna talk about how does body positivity kind of relate to eating and and physical activity and your weight because I think there’s a lot of barriers around weight and becoming body positive and then we might finish up with… Taryn you through your work have just been exposed to all of these amazing body positive advocates so we might let people know how they can join this community and get the benefits from that and what are some kind of next steps for sure sounds like a plan yeah so alright let’s get into it. We’ll start off with the documentary.
So like I said guys, if you haven’t watched this documentary you really have to so Taryn for me if I’m doing safe I’m doing intuitive eating work with people one of the first go to’s is I recommend Rick Kausman book “If Not Dieting, Then What?” or our friend Linda Bacon’s book “Health At Every Size” and then if I’m doing body image work with any of my clients you are one of the to go to’s so the first thing I do is I ask people to do is a social media declutter get rid of all the stuff that makes them feel kind of ‘less than’ or like they need to change their bodies or all those thin ideal images and then I just ask them to go and see Embrace.
Nice, thank you!
My favourite stat on Embrace which I actually read in your book is that fifty two thousand people watched this in one night in Germany.
Mm-hmm, it was quite unreal actually because I don’t think anyone saw that coming we released it in cinema we were up against… not that I even knew this at the time, I just want people to come and watch Embrace in Germany… but on that same night King Arthur was releasing King Arthur 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy and sure enough Embrace went Number 1 in the box office! But you know what it says I think it just says that we are all so ready to come together to talk about how we’ve felt and look at solutions how we can move forward because we’re just kind of done with hating our bodies and 52,000 people coming to see Embrace and start a fresh conversation that was what that was.
The world is really ready for it and that’s what I see Embrace as. I see it as a turning point in the way that we talk and think and feel and act and interact around our bodies.
Yeah, it’s a conversation starter and I think because of the characters in Embrace who are so open and so vulnerable with their own stories it gives permission for other people to feel the same and share their stories and I think that’s it’s a question that comes up for me a lot in the media is how I feel about the mission of in global change. And you know, do you think that can be done like doesn’t that make you feel stressed, and I’m like maybe it does why are you asking me this question, but you know what? What I know is from traveling to many many countries around the world and speaking to hundreds of thousands of people is that we mostly feel the same way we don’t want to be at war with our body anymore we don’t want to see that some of the things that we see the women being objectified young girl was being sexualized we don’t want to be preyed upon you know the weight loss industry cosmetic industry the diet industry there’s a lot of stuff that’s going on that just doesn’t feel good and we want an alternative.
And I think speaking as a health professional when you say that I think even health like health professional sometimes you could point the finger at us as propagating bias and stigma and discrimination around bodies especially people who live in larger bodies but I think when I talk to health professionals I think we’re ready for it.
I think so too.
This came up in a recent conversation, just going how are we all going to change the world and I’m like I just think we’re almost ready because you’re right more and more health professionals are talking about Health At Every Size that would have been very, very radical ten years ago, but now this is a this is part of the conversation and people are starting to get a little bit curious in the health industry and I think that’s really exciting.
Absolutely exciting, absolutely exciting, and but this all started Taryn with you and your personal experience it’s just amazing that this whole global change started with you.
When did you first realize that being thin and being really fit looking wasn’t your golden ticket to health and happiness and success?
Mm-hmm, so for those people who are listening who don’t know my story basically I hated my body and I wanted to have the perfect bikini body so I set out on a mission to lose the weight and tone up and in 15 weeks lost 15 kilos and I got ‘there’ I got I got into a bikini which I hadn’t done ever in my entire life and it was in the moment that I was… I actually entered a bodybuilding competition, like, a fitness competition… never say never let me say that because I…
You weren’t planning to?
Are you serious? No! Walking on a stage in like a teeny tiny bikini you know, in high heels in front of 900 people. No, not my thing but anyway never say never! But walking across that stage I realized that to have the body – to have that perfect bikini body – was such a battle for me it took so much obsession about food and cutting food up and putting it into tiny plastic containers – like that’s empowering and feels good – it doesn’t!
Because you talk about that in your book it’s like you had tried to pretend like all of that food prep was fun and eating that very kind of limited planned food was fun.
Yeah, no sauce seriously what is food without sauce give me some sauce. Yeah and I think just the obsession about what was going into my body what I weighed on the scales it was just it was no life it was not sustainable actually having that bikini body made me miserable.
It’s really the opposite of the thin ideal.
Yeah I was really surprised to get there and going oh no I want to go back.
So it surprised you?
Yeah of course it did you I thought I would be it would make me really happy you know to have that body that I dreamed about and I’d seen in magazines and on billboards and on TV I got there and I wasn’t happy.
And then you did something really interesting, you posted a very different kind of before and after shot so tell us about that well before photos you always see a woman before and she’s really sad and overweight and then she loses weight and miraculously she becomes happy and just that’s not the case.
And very tanned.
And very very tanned.
And it’s just not the case. So I swapped mine around, the before was on stage in that perfect bikini body the after was naked but you couldn’t see anything but you could certainly see the rolls and the folds and the rest and yeah I posted it on social media and it went crazy.
It went absolutely nuts didn’t it?
It was headline news everywhere, you know, in France in Germany in the U.S. in Japan – everywhere. I mean it was on the in-flight news on Qantas. A friend of mine got off a flight and was like, you were just on the Qantas in-flight news. I’m like, wow!
Pretty much naked.
That’s right this is really broken people’s brains hasn’t it. I mean even that this is how ludicrous – the fact that it went viral, which I’m really grateful for now because it’s given me a platform to speak about this and help people but how crazy to think that a reverse before and after photograph – a woman loving her body after is somehow headline news.
Well that’s the… this seems the ludicrous thing, because you look at that photo and we will post a link to that photo I’m sure you can see it on your website.
We’ll post a link to the photo but you just look I supposed to me like just a normal person and I think for me that’s why this message is so important because the world’s brains just kind of went into a tizz because here was a normal-looking person who didn’t hate her body and that was so unusual and so hard for people to kind of comprehend.
Yeah that’s right yeah. The only way I can describe is that it broke people’s brains.
Yeah it really broke people’s brains, like how’s this normal person…
Because you know we were talking about this before that in psychology… psychologists talk about a normative discontent with the way that you look which means it’s you know it actually doesn’t really matter what shape or size we are we don’t like our bodies you know we’re sitting here in what is my office most of the time and I see people who live in really really large bodies maybe a couple hundred kilos or more who don’t like them and then I see people who live in bodies that are 42 kilos. It’s a real myth that you have to you know becoming thin is the way to feel good about yourself.
Yeah and it’s such a shame because there’s so many wasted lives people are wasting so much time battling against their own miracle. You know, the body is a miracle the things that our bodies you know it can do… It’s a little bit sad… But you know what now we’re having these conversations and now there is an alternative and we have a choice and I think that’s what people are learning. It’s like, oh I don’t have to hate my body and feel this crap I can learn to love and embrace it no matter what it looks like.
And that’s a really really powerful message isn’t it, Taryn because we kind of… I think that for a lot of people and you know I’m a psychologist I work in body image, eating, weight movement and I think that people actually a lot of people they’d love to love their bodies more but they actually don’t think that it’s achievable and what you’re showing people – women especially – is that it’s doable.
So tell us about you know that the documentary is called Embrace the book is Embrace Yourself, what does Embrace mean to you because I read in your book you kind of describe it like getting a golden ticket to life.
Yeah I mean that’s one way I describe it because it just feels so free I think that’s the word really just free and joyous I feel really liberated, life just feels extra sparkly and fun and I just feel light just like just yeah and people often asked me like where do you get all your energy from and I’m and I didn’t used to have this much energy but it’s because you know all of that body hating and all those conversations that used to fill up my head they’re just no longer there.
Because it’s so time-consuming isn’t it? So much energy so many thoughts so many emotions people are fighting against when they’re fighting the body that they’re living in.
Yeah, it’s hard work hating your body and I think you know when we talk about change and wanting to… you know people out there who want to change but don’t know how to change I think there’s a lot of fear around that will like be able to embrace you know this is a question will I ever be able to love my body and I think what’s really important and what’s happening and has been happening over the last few years is more and more people are telling their stories and that’s really inspiring it’s nice to know that you’re not alone and that before-and-after photograph I receive seven thousand emails she doesn’t email that’s a lot of emails do you know someone says to me other day like oh my inbox I like got 50 emails – try seven thousand!
Em who runs the office probably deal with a couple hundred a day at least? It’s like… well seven thousand… that’s another level above.
It was a lot but you know what it said was we all have stories no matter who we are no matter what everybody’s look like no matter what size they are and a lot of us have been struggling behind closed doors about how we feel about our bodies but and I’m really grateful for social media that it’s enabled us to connect with strangers around the world and share this is important to talk about it.
It’s absolutely powerful because we sort of I suppose that you know we live in a society where it’s not so friendly to people who don’t look like that perfect thin ideal and so it’s so important for people to connect with like a subculture it’s growing that kind of embraces the fact that we don’t all look the same and we’re not all supposed to look the same.
That’s right and I always talk about the row of babies – a friend of mine Dr. Emma Johnson talks about this that if we lined up a row of six-month-old babies like here – you’d hear this, they’re really noisy, but look at the diversity in all those babies! You know some have got these chunky thighs that you just love and want to squig and you know some are smaller some are larger, some are brown, some are black, some ware white… all this rich diversity! What happens when we grow up that what we have to all conform to the same.
Look at that diversity then. It doesn’t change. We need to embrace that.
And that’s one of what we need to be seeing then… like you say in social media is so good for people to be seeing and if you look at the people that you recommend that people connect with in the book what you’re seeing is a diversity of shapes and sizes just like we see in real life.
Absolutely and attitudes towards their bodies like I love my social media feed I love my Instagram in the people that I follow because I never know what I’m gonna get. And it’s exciting to see you know BodyPosiPanda over in the UK posting a jiggle dance that she does like it just brings joy to my life yeah and I guess that’s why I have such a positive relationship with social media because like what you were saying earlier about a declutter?
Yeah, decluttering or spring cleaning.
I love that, so we encourage people to follow/unfollow. Who are you gonna unfollow who can you follow. And it’s amazing how many people allow toxic messages and toxic people and ideals into their life and they think it’s okay because it’s on their phone. You would never let that happen in real life you’d never let a friend into your circle your girl gang or your boy going who’s mean and nasty but or says things that doesn’t feel good or doesn’t serve you so why do we allow this on our phones.
Yeah it’s an amazing thing isn’t it that we sort of – we’re so used to the media and now social media sending us these messages that are really toxic and harmful that sometimes we just kind of brush it off. So give it to us then Taryn who are some people that that are people that we should follow in the body-positive space because what I’ve done is I’m almost finished your book I have just gone through your book and in the book one of the things I love is you actually have like little mini chapters from some of these people that are just beautiful yeah and I think that you know body positivity is kind of like learning a new language you need different teachers you need waves of similar information said in lots of different ways and that’s part of what I think the books so great but I’ve just literally gone through and just followed everyone on there I knew quite a few of them.
Louise Greene who’s in there yeah she actually was the first person on the Glenn Macintosh show.
Amazing I think I did see that somewhere that you had connected with her.
She’s great we met in Vancouver a few years ago.
I just love what she brings to this space. So yeah look Louise Green, BodyPosiPanda, Jade Beall, Renee Airya, Style Me Sunday, Michaela Skilney… There’s small hand full.
There’s a few for you and we will provide some links to those guys so you can get all connected and then join that community.
Well Taryn thank you so much for talking about your personal journey and we know that the world is ready for it and I just think it’s absolutely amazing that from your personal journey you’ve sparked a worldwide change. Now I know that that everyone listening is gonna want this golden ticket, so let’s get on to some of the how to’s and some of the barriers that people are going to face in this journey to really authentically embracing.