At home in Adelaide, Australia, Taryn Brumfitt is a wife and mother of three. But internationally, she is a recognised body image activist whose message has reached over 100 million people worldwide via traditional and social media. After receiving more than 7000 emails and messages from people all over the world, Taryn realised that there was a global body-hating epidemic and felt compelled to find answers.
Review by Louise Keller:
Our body is not an ornament but a vehicle, says Taryn Brumffit, whose life-endorsing documentary is a surprisingly moving experience. Surprising because the film canvasses issues far beyond the superficial stories about Photoshop, skinny supermodels and unattainable beauty. In her debut film, Bruffit, who garnered attention with arresting before and after photographs of herself posted on social media, has created an inspiring work in which the different ideals of beauty are explored.
Beyond addressing issues of self-image, plastic surgery and weight issues, Bruffit's film shines the light much further, introducing us to a handful of inspiring individuals with poignant stories to tell. There's a bearded lady, an oversize model, a burns victim and a brain surgery survivor to name but a few. A plastic surgeon prods at flabby flesh; female genitals are under scrutiny; the tragedy of anorexia is observed. Ultimately, it is the personal nature of the film and the compelling, ebullient nature of Bruffit herself that provides the winning formula.
Vulnerability is the hook that grabs us immediately when the film begins. We see Bruffit at her most vulnerable as her body goes through major changes after the birth of her three children. Stating her dismay at her 'jelly belly mess' after the births, we partake her emotional journey as she decides against cosmetic surgery and realises the importance of loving herself as she really is. Bruffit is a shining example of good health and positivity; her down to earth manner and charismatic screen presence is the film's driver. She talks to women in the street as well as women with a profile, like Cosmopolitan editor Mia Freedman, US theatre star Ricki Lake and Canadian photographer Jade Beall. Everyone has something to contribute. The conversation is varied and stimulating.
I got a lump in my throat when Turia Pitt, the marathon race participant who suffered burns to 60 percent of her body recounts her story. But hers is not the only story to affect us. The attitude of the woman with one breast who we meet at Sydney Skinny, when bodies of all shapes and sizes dive into the water without clothes is inspirational. We accompany Bruffit to Sydney, LA, Canada, Dominican Republic, London, Vienna and New York to discover first hand that beauty is what we make of it.
Positivity simply leaps from the screen through this inspiring and liberating film as it puts our physical attributes into perspective and allows us to realise we can take control of our own sense of worth. To accept and embrace ourselves is Bruffit's mantra. Everyone should see this film - it just may enrich and change your perception about your body.
After the film, it felt just right to head home and tuck into a hearty bowl of spaghetti, washed down by a good glass of red.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Every body is beautiful in its own way, is the primary message, and women should stop tormenting themselves with body image issues. Accepting what shape you are is empowering, as Taryn Brumfitt's doco shows, talking to people around the world (mostly women) as part of a crusade to stop the thin craze. The women featured come in all colours, all shapes and sizes; yet even the supermodels stress over their perceived imperfections. It would be amusing if it weren't so sad.
At first, she saw her post-birth girth as an ugliness. It drove her half mad and it does so to other women around the world. Well, the first world, largely. That's not to dismiss the value of this film as an eye opener for the women suffering from poor self image because their body is not like a 20 year old supermodel digitally fantasised for fashion shoots. And it's not men who are misogynistic in this business, it's the uber-bitchy women who run women's magazines (not referring to interview subject Mia Freedman here), carping at the fat cells of celebrities. Just pick up any of their editions ....
Her mission to spread 'embrace' as a concept began when she was inundated with social media responses to her facebook post showing her before and after photos - except the photos were in reverse to what we would expect. She had struck a chord.
Brumfiit and her team (on a crowdfunded filming mission) do a terrific job of digging under the surface of the self loathing that so many women endure in search of what they think is the ideal shape and size. That self-disgust is what makes them unhappy, says Brumfitt, not their shape.
Embrace is an uplifting and engaging film with plenty of guts, setting out the social parameters that constrain women of almost all ages by impossible, self imposed criteria. Good on her.
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CAST: Documentary featuring Taryn Brumfitt, Mia Freedman, Ricki Lake, Amanda De Cadenet, Turia Pitt, Stefania Ferrario
PRODUCER: Taryn Brumfitt, Anna Vincent
DIRECTOR: Taryn Brumfitt
SCRIPT: Taryn Brumfitt
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Hugh Fenton
EDITOR: Lindi Harrison, Bryan Mason
MUSIC: Benjamin Speed
RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Transmission
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 4, 2016