Taryn Brumfitt, Ricky Lake, Mia Freedman, Amanda De Cadenet
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Embrace is very important viewing for, literally, everyone.
Mothers: take your daughters to see this film. You won’t be sorry you did. Embrace is the little doco that could. It’s a social impact documentary, exploring the issue of body image with photographer, wife, and mother of three, Taryn Brumfitt. The inspiration for Embrace came about when Taryn posted an unconventional before-and-after image on the internet in 2013 that sparked a media frenzy. The image, which embraces body diversity, was seen by over 100 million people worldwide, and led to hundreds of interviews and articles. But she soon realised how restrictive 4-minute TV interviews, 800 word articles, and 140 characters on Twitter can be. And after receiving more than 7,000 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. So the idea of creating the documentary was born.
Embrace is told from the point of view of Taryn as she traverses the globe talking to experts, women in the street, and well-known personalities about the alarming rates of body image issues that are seen in people of all body types. In her affable and effervescent style, Taryn bares all (literally) to explore the factors contributing to this problem, and seeks to find solutions. After 24 months of travelling, interviewing, production and post-production, Taryn and her team have created a film that is relevant, relatable, and highly-engaging – but above all, life changing.
Any woman today would recall the same old “body image” seminars and videos that you’re forced to watch, generally in high school – where the theatre troupe or video host tells you that “you’re beautiful, everyone is different, and isn’t it great!” without actually addressing just what we are all up against. And that’s what really makes Embrace a standout. It is just oozing with substance, and not only raises but seeks to answer so many questions around why we hate our bodies from both an academic and real life point of view. Importantly, the film is not just about weight! Hallelujah, right?! Embrace, cleverly, identifies body image as a hugely feminist issue not just from the perspective of weight, but disability, gender identity, ethnicity, and age. It is incredibly refreshing to see a film in this category that hasn’t restricted itself to the narrow boarders of “fat or thin.”
Though focusing more on the systems of judgement placed on modern women, men will get just as much out of this film, if not more. Embrace dives into how the body image of women affects their men, their marriages, their family life, and their sexuality directly from experiences of men and women of differing circumstances around the world.
The technical aspects of the film aren’t awe-inspiring – and nor do they need to be. While some of the execution is a little cheesy, it’s far more about the content than the package that it’s wrapped up in, which perhaps is yet another thematic device used to further bring home the message.
Embrace is groundbreaking, not just because it disrupts what media in all its forms tells us about how we should look, but because it actually cuts through the noise of the “we’re all great” rhetoric, and manages to strike a chord, intelligently and with meaning. Embrace will give you critical perspective and inspire you to stop hating on yourself so much, to stop being so self-obsessed, and to just live your damn life. It will also have you craving a double cheese burger really badly. Embrace is very important viewing for, literally, everyone.