Australian writer and film director Taryn Brumfitt has been on a mission to get more people to love their skin.
“This is something the world has taught us. Body-shaming is a universal problem and we’ve been bullied and shamed into thinking our bodies are the problem,” she said Wednesday night.
“It is not our purpose in life to be at war with our bodies.”
Brumfitt used her 2016 documentary, Embraceto explore why people — especially women — hate their bodies, as well as her own journey of acceptance.
Her work has since been seen in nearly 200 countries and watched by millions on Netflix.
While many documentary filmmakers are looking for their next subject, Brumfitt’s efforts to encourage body positivity didn’t stop when the cameras stopped rolling.
She has since released an accompanying documentary, Embrace childrenwhich focuses on children between nine and fourteen years old.
Brumfitt has also teamed up with experts to create a parenting companion book and free research center.
Brumfitt accepted the award at a ceremony in Canberra, saying it is critical to addressing body image issues among young people.
“We are facing a pediatric health emergency, with rates of suicide, depression, eating disorders, anxiety and steroid use associated with body dissatisfaction soaring,” she said.
“It’s not our bodies that need to change, it’s our perspective.”
The director said she was optimistic that growing kids could learn to grow without the shame of their bodies.
“This isn’t about encouraging obesity, this isn’t what I do, and this issue isn’t just about weight or size, it’s about the way we think about ourselves,” she said.
“When you take your last breath on this earth, what thoughts will go through your mind? What are you going to think about? And no one has ever told me how big their buttocks are.”
The director’s work on body positivity has led to her earning her highest award to date: Australian of the Year for 2023.
Danielle Roche, chair of the National Australia Day Council, said Brumfitt’s work has brought about powerful change on a personal level for many Australians and people around the world.
“Taryn has inspired millions of women around the world to feel good about themselves,” said Ms. Roche.
Brumfitt received the honor at a ceremony in Canberra on Wednesday night.
Indigenous human rights advocate Tom Calma was named Senior Australian of the Year, while Socceroos star and refugee lawyer Awer Mabil was announced Young Australian of the Year.
Local Hero for 2023 went to Turbans 4 Australia founder Amar Singh.
“Taryn, Tom, Awer and Amar are all brilliant and share a common bond – using their life experience as a force for good, helping others around them and making the world a better place,” said Ms Roche.
“This is an extraordinary group of Australians of whom we can all be incredibly proud.”