I wrote this article two years ago, in anticipation of seeing the documentary Embrace. It came up as a memory today on Facebook and reminded me of how drastically things can change in a short time. Two years ago I was still at war with my body and trying desperately to find a way to make peace with it. Now I am comfortable in my own skin and proudly helping others find a way to feel the same. I am a Global Ambassador for the Body Image Movement. I’ve been asked to be a part of the Cossie Confidence Crew for Sequins and Sand – stayed tuned for my swimwear modelling debut! Also, this month, I will be travelling with the woman who started this all for me – Taryn Brumfitt – on her Embrace You book tour.
‘If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change’ – Wayne Dyer
So here is how I was feeling about it all two years ago…
I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited about a movie premiere. Is this what it is like to be a Star Wars fanatic, counting down the days like a big kid? 14 more sleeps until I see Taryn Brumfitt’s new documentary – Embrace.
Twelve months ago I made a decision to improve my health, having steadily put on weight for a decade. I joined a gym, hired a personal trainer and overhauled my diet. I lost 15 kilos and for a while felt much better. Then the weight loss plateaued and my old eating and drinking habits started up again. I felt like I was failing yet again and the inner dialogue began – I hate this body. Weeks earlier I’d been bordering on conceit as I marvelled at how strong I was getting, admiring my newly emerging muscles. Yet it evaporated in a moment as the number on my scales went up instead of down. The dress I’d bought last month, which was a touch tight (but was going to look great once I dropped another few kilos) was now unwearable. I sat on my wardrobe floor and cried. I hate this body.From the moment I saw the trailer for this film, it spoke to me in a way I couldn’t ignore. I obsessively researched the film-maker and followed all the social media sites. I knew it was going to be exactly the message I need right now.
I saw the trailer for Embrace and two lines affected me deeply. “My body isn’t an ornament, it is a vehicle.” Oh how I want to believe this. Logically I do know it, but emotionally I still haven’t embraced it. I try to tell myself to think of my body as ‘capable’ because it has always done everything I asked it to do. Carried two beautiful babies, loved my husband, ran, jumped, wrestled, swam and danced. If I couldn’t do those things, I’d be devastated. So why can’t I just appreciate my body for that at least?
The other line that moved me was as Taryn addressed her young daughter and said “Darling girl, don’t waste a second of your life being at war with your body.” Tears sprang to my eyes, just as they are now, typing the words. I wanted to hug my fifteen year old daughter and apologise for every moment she saw me hate my body, for every time she witnessed me criticise my fat thighs or bemoan how bad an outfit looked on me. I spent so much time as she grew up, telling her she is perfect exactly the way she is, that I forgot about the mirror I was holding up to her as a role model. I felt a huge burden of guilt for the times I’d seen her critique her body. I remembered all the negative comments my mother had made about her body, and mine too at times, and how I’d internalised that to shape my views. And I knew that the only way to prevent the cycle repeating, was to finally embrace myself.
I like to state regularly, I live with no regrets. But it is a lie. I regret lots of choices I made over the years. Every time I chose to sit on the beach, rather than playing in the surf with my kids, all because the walk from the safety of my tightly wrapped sarong to the water’s edge would be too embarrassing. Every time I sat sweating beside the pool saying “Nah – I’m really not that hot at all” because I didn’t want my friends to see my thighs rubbing together. All the times I said no to my husband because I couldn’t possibly believe it when he said I was sexy. God, I wish I could relive those moments now. I regret those choices because I didn’t learn anything good from them – I just perpetuated my ongoing hatred for my body. What a ridiculous waste of precious time. I have made a lot of mistakes in my life, yet I absolutely refuse to regret any of them, as I know they taught me things and took me in directions I may never have travelled. Now keep in mind, I was a teenager of the 80’s – so you’d think I’d at least have a few fashion choices to regret. Yet, I don’t regret that permed, big hair mullet, the bubble skirt and hyper-colour t-shirt, double denim or even the hours I spent lined up to meet Brian Canham, lead singer of Pseudo Echo. No – I proudly own all of it!
So, with two weeks to go until I see ‘Embrace’, I am ready to change my thoughts. I’m ready to make a commitment to loving my body in all its imperfection. I am ready be a catalyst for positive change in my life and my impressionable daughters. I’m not there yet, but I’m closer than I was yesterday.
by Tatia Power