I still remember how I felt the first time I watched Embrace.
To see vox pops of women in the street one after the other describing their bodies as not perfect, disgusting and overall something that they hate, was simultaneously heartbreaking and relatable. But after living a life where you're told your worth is reliant on how you look, how could you not feel like that?
It's been a year, almost to the day, since I saw that film - I know, because halfway through watching it I sent some friends a message encouraging them to watch it. In many ways, the documentary was the beginning of a process of my own reevaluation of how I relate to my body and eventually led to an eating disorder diagnosis.
I thought back to every time someone, in my childhood particularly, had hinted that I was not thin enough. The dance teacher who told me to start taking diet pills, the family member who said unlike other girls, it was inappropriate for me to wear a bikini, and the girls at school who would sit and compare the sizes on our uniforms as if they were golf scores - the lowest number wins.
Things that at the time seemed normal, were problematic looking back. Not just because of the effect it had on me, but because it also shows how those people saw their worth linked with their bodies.
Because that's just it - as much as body image issues feel isolating, as much as this war we wage on our bodies feels personal, there are millions of people waging that same war at the same time.
If you need proof of that, you need only look at Brumfitt's first viral post - a before and after photo. The before saw Brumfitt with a chiselled body in a bodybuilding competition, and the after saw her bare all "cellulite, stretch marks, folds, rolls and all".
The image made international news because it seemed so out of the ordinary for a woman to accept herself without the toned stomach, and the idealised image of "beauty and worth".
And so Brumfitt's mission of encouraging women, men and now, through a specialised program and the 2022 documentary Embrace Kids, children to embrace their bodies, began. A mission that last week led Brumfitt to be named Australian of the Year.
It's a move that not only validates the work Brumfitt does, but also the people who are struggling with body image, and there can be strength and power found in that recognition. Both on a personal level with people feeling as if their issues are being heard, but also on a national level.
The Australian of the Year award puts worthy causes at the forefront of the national conversation. And this really is a conversation that needs to be had by people of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds. It's a layered topic, with so many factors influencing the issue in different ways.
And I hope Australia is ready because it's a conversation that is already overdue.
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