STOP. Don't skip past this intro. What was the first word that came into your mind when you read that headline? Got it? OK. Let's continue.
"Disgusting," that was the overwhelming response Taryn Brumfitt received when she posed the question to 100 women on the streets of Australia. She filmed their answers for a Kickstarter campaign to make a documentary about the global epidemic of body shaming and hating.
I'm happy to report that Brumfitt exceeded her goal and will wrap filming this October. The plan: Stop more women ("and some men, too") on streets all over the world and ask them to describe their bodies with one word.
"It’s about a representation of all types of bodies and races and cultures or ethnicities," she told me over Skype. “This body shaming and body hating epidemic is very global and it’s important for me to be able to demonstrate that with the documentary.”
So far she's been to Canada, the U.S., and the Dominican Republic. Next she's headed to Germany, U.K., parts of Asia, and South America. She'll also be interviewing high profile women whose bodies have been used as a media playthings. “I have a couple of people I’ve been trying to get to, like [Patricia Arquette], Lady Gaga and Pink, Christina Aguilera as well, because those women have opinions on body image ... and also they’ve been under fire about their body shapes and they’ve really pushed back and said, ‘No, I’m not going to listen to you. I’m going to do it my way.'"
“Whether you engage in it or not, it gets in,” Brumfitt says of the media. “There’s always this conversation about diets or getting your body back, which I think is completely absurd. Why would we go back? We have to move forward, right? Our bodies are evolving ... We must embrace our bodies at every stage and every age, and never fight or defy what is happening.”
Brumfitt's passion for the film--and for promoting global body positivity--is palpable. Had it not been for the time difference (she's in Australia) and our schedules we could have talked for hours. Basically, she IS the project, and her own struggles serve as the preface. "I’ve had the perfect body not so long ago and I can actually say it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and I much prefer my body now."
Asked how one person, or one film, can get the world's women out from under the burden of body hating, Brumfitt had this to say.
“There’s more diets on the market than ever. There’s more transformations. There’s more pills, lotions, and potions to fix us, but we’re more miserable than ever. So I think it needs to come from a different place, and that’s what this is all about ... It’s about getting [people] to appreciate their body and all the things that their body can do ... It’s not having this value system that’s based on looks ... The currency of how we value human beings can’t be [superficial] beauty.”
OK, open thread time. I want to hear from you.
What was your word? Mine was the standard "fat," a word that I'm actually at peace with, for whatever reason. You don't have to share your word if you don't want to. We can talk about whatever you like, although I'd love to hear about the women or influences that inspire you to love your bodies and look at them for more than what they are in comparison to someone else's.
P.S. Though the film won't be out for a while, Brumfitt's debut book, Embrace: My Story from Body Loather to Body Lover, will be available this June.