So if you see my Facebook posts or read anything I post here then you will know that I have been impressed, inspired and become passionate about the Body Image Movement via Taryn Brumfitt’s wonderful feature length documentary on body image issues, “Embrace”.
I’ve been asked a lot how come I’m interested and why I want to help others embrace so here goes!
I stumbled on the Embrace Trailer on Facebook but I’m not sure through who or how! I showed it to my 11 year old daughter and said I thought it was something we should see together. She agreed. I think it sparked something in me that lay dormant and unnoticed by even me until that moment. I believe it was the deep rooted knowledge and hope that there was a better way. That it was infused with so much positivity and enthusiasm only made the joy bigger!
I had to wait a few months to for Embrace to arrive in Ireland. I watched eagerly and was delighted to see it appearing in Dublin in January. So off I toddled online to Demand film and reserved two seats. And off we went on the 23rd January to see it. There was a Q&A with Taryn afterwards. We had no questions. I know I had none because I got it. Straight away. It felt like I’d always known it. But she was a beautifully positive breath of fresh aussie air and sunshine on that cold January night!
We chatted all the way home about bodies and how amazing they are and how we need to fill them up with more love and tender loving care. We talked about how we could embrace – no negative body talk, no jumping on the scales, celebrating our bods with good food and fun movement. We reinstated boogie time in the mornings too! I also decided that I would never set foot in another weight loss club/group again. EVER! We didn’t get home till 10. I couldn’t sleep until well into the night that night I was so energised.
And so began a time of looking inwards and thinking about my connection with this message of total acceptance and love. A friend commented when I told her about this amazing film that she didn’t realise I had “issues”. My gut reaction was, “well I don’t, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be interested!” Thing is I think most of us (women especially) have at some stage struggled with weight, diet and body image. It’s so common to hear people comment on their own losses or gains, where they want to be, what they want to cut out, eating too much chocolate/cakes/treats etc., in passing and so naturally that you’d have to wonder exactly how ingrained it is in our minds to be unhappy in our own bodies.
But gosh, did I have issues? Did I realise that? And why did this matter to me so much? I searched long and hard through the past. I remembered a concerned adult asking my mother (she must have figured I was hard of hearing as well as skinny!) when I was really young if she was feeding me enough because I was so miserably thin. I remember coming home from Irish College and having to have my bridesmaid dress taken in more to fit after two weeks of inedible food! I remember my mother trying to “fatten me up” that summer and being oh-so pleased when I put on some weight. Not for me – but for everyone else, for all those commenters and folks who said I needed to fatten up.
None of these things traumatised me or upset me greatly, but they impacted enough that remember them as an adult many years later. I guess that’s when it started. I was skinny me. I went through my teens and well into my mid-twenties that way. I started to gain weight in my late twenties and even had one work colleague comment (again at a wedding!) that I looked much better with a bit of meat on me! Seriously. Then I had kids and started to find it more difficult to lose weight. I think then I really began to fly my way through all the fad diets. I’m sure I didn’t but it felt like I’d done most of them! I even went on one of those “shake only” things that leaves you dropping pounds like leaves off a tree in autumn. It transpired I started gaining just like a tree in springtime too. Then the girls got old enough to ask why I wasn’t eating real food. Never again. I think I started to question my motives and sanity then!
My forties have been a massive rollercoaster in so many ways, but one that has seen me grow more than I ever have before – and in a good way! Health wise I have not been great and the last few years have brought depression, weight gain and eventually a diagnosis of hypothyroidism. I do believe all those years of punishing my poor bod with yoyo dieting probably didn’t do it any favours either.
From the point of that diagnosis things begin to change slowly. I started to question more. I started to do some research and find out more about my own health. I began to realise that I had the power to improve how I felt just by treating myself a little better. I started to make small changes that brought big benefits. I started to practice self-care. I realised that health had to come first, and the rest would follow. I knew that the feeling good, motivated and energetic had to come before anything else and that could only come from taking care of myself.
I’ve been pinpointing what it is I need every day. It’s the obvious stuff – but looked at differently! I need nourishing food to fuel me. I need to walk every day and get a lot of fresh air preferably in good company but sometimes solo! I need my family and a very small few close friends who I can be myself with warts and all. I am lucky to have these people. I need music, words, colour and something to create when the mood takes me. I need animals to love too! I need my home to feel like the haven we all need from the world at large. Again – I have all these things. I began to realise I have crafted a life richer than I could have imagined or dared to dream of as a young girl. I wanted to embrace me just like my friends and family and dogs do with constant support, love, honesty and good humour! I wanted to find out who I am now as opposed to who I feel I should be and how it measures up to anyone’s idea of me apart from my own. I didn’t know how to shake off the shackles of my scales and my calorie, point and syn counting years. I didn’t know how to shake off the feeling that I had to be lighter, fitter, slimmer, better – constantly! I knew it would come, but I didn’t know how or when. Then I found that trailer!
So here I am. I am feeling much happier in my own skin than I ever have. I enjoy my meals and think about how they will nourish or please me rather than where they’ll go or how much I’d have to exercise to burn them off. Most days I wake up really energised and eager to embrace the day – this is new, and I still have days I want to stay in the bed and ignore the world too but the good far outweighs the bad and it’s exactly where I knew I needed to be for a long time. I think the message to embrace has reached way into many aspects of my life and become about so much more than my very wonderful body! For me personally, it’s been an awakening and the way to really live my life fully engaged and present. It started because it made sense to me right now when I was meant to find it.
Everyone should see this film. Whether you believe you personally have issues or not – go see this please! We live in such a fickle, image-conscious world that sells us all we need to look the way we are told we should. We live in a world where people make themselves ill and starve themselves for someone else’s idea of how they should look. We live in a world that says, buy this and this and this, it will make you look good and therefore feel better (oh and yes, it will make someone richer!). We need to live in a world that accepts that feeling better is the first step for many and that is the most important thing. We need to work from a place of self-love and self-gratitude if we want to live fulfilled, rich, wonderful lives at optimum health. As women we need to join together in that acceptance and become each others support rather than each others critics. That’s the world I want my girls to grow up in.
I want my beautiful children to remember me happy. I want them to remember me having fun,
laughing, living to the full and I want them to know that no matter what, I loved myself and was happy in my own skin. I want them to see me as a good example of how you should treat yourself. I want them to never own a scales but to be in tune and at one with their wonderful bodies and to treat themselves and their bodies with the respect and love and care that they know they deserve. I want them to be free to enjoy a healthy life unencumbered by pressure to be a certain shape or size or weight because someone else wants them to think so. I want them to embrace their bodies, themselves and their lives bravely and fully with love and wonder.
This is just my little patch of heaven so that’s what I can work on for now but I would love to see others grab a little of the magic that is embracing all of who you are and treating your amazing body like your cherished best friend.