WORDS: Liv Williams
I have three children aged between 7 and 10, and like all kids, they arrived on this earth—and have subsequently grown—in different shapes and sizes. They also have different personalities, different strengths and love very different things. One thing they have in common, however, is that each one of them has been on the receiving end of more than one comment about their body at some time or another over the course of their short lives.
Despite the fact that their external packages are all very different from one another, individually they have each had their very different bodies judged and remarked on by both family, friends and strangers. Unfortunately I feel pretty confident that most parents could share similar stories about their own kids. Despite our children’s bodies being the absolute least interesting thing about them, it seems they get commented on an awful lot. And these comments stick.
This is part of the reason internationally recognised body-image advocate Taryn Brumfitt is turning her lens on the issue of kids’ body image. She wants to understand why 70% of Australian school kids consider body image to be their number one concern, and what can be done about it.
I first interviewed Taryn for KIDDO in 2019, post the EMBRACE documentary phenomenon. EMBRACE was a box office hit, screening in over 190 countries and reaching number 1 on iTunes in the US, UK and Australia. To say I left the conversation feeling inspired and with a sense of renewed empowerment over my own body image is an understatement. Just one twenty minute chat with Taryn left me wanting to think kinder thoughts about my body, but also knowing I needed to firmly pump the brakes on this vicious cycle of body dissatisfaction lest it take hold of my own precious little people. I was by no means alone in this.
Following the success of EMBRACE, Taryn was sent thousands of messages asking her to make a follow-up film, but targeted toward younger audiences. Taryn knew her next film had to be EMBRACE: KIDS.
This important film is like that twenty minute conversation I had with Taryn back in 2019 that changed my whole perception of body image, but packaged in rainbow colours, with glitter and sunshine, catchy tunes, a doggo or three and a healthy dose of kid lingo. Taryn talks authentically to school-aged kids and famous friends about body image, bullying, gender identity, advocacy, representation and more. Featuring Taryn’s network of well-known celebrity friends including Celeste Barber, Jameela Jamil, Electric Fields, along with Chico the family dog, EMBRACE: KIDS brings together a vibrant collection of stories and voices to entertain and inspire kids and parents alike, showing us that the first step in changing the world, is changing your own mind.
“EMBRACE: KIDS” is the next step in our Embrace journey.” Taryn says. “Recent studies suggest that body image is the number one issue affecting our children and we want to be part of the solution. It’s alarming and heartbreaking that kids are being held back by how they feel about their bodies. Imagine giving kids the tools to move, nourish, respect and enjoy their bodies instead”.
The film is G rated and absolutely vital viewing for kids, and for their parents. No one is born hating their body, it’s a learned behaviour. We need to unlearn it. It’s time to change the narrative; in fact, that time has been and gone, it’s well overdue. Embrace: KIDS is the first step in a very important journey of change for our children. It starts now… and the responsibility is ours.
Embrace: KIDS is screening from September 1.
The Embrace Kids book
Embrace Kids is the essential body image handbook for parents of children and teens by powerhouse change-maker and body positivity activist Taryn Brumfitt and Dr Zali Yager.
Body image, and the associated issues of weight, food and physical activity, are hot topics in our families. How did we get to this place of constant criticism about our own bodies, and how can we get out of it?
This book will teach you everything you need to know to build your kids’ body image, to wholeheartedly embrace their uniqueness, and to steer them on a path to body confidence that has the power to liberate them for life.
Embrace Kids is published by Penguin Random House
Taryns top tips to encourage kids to Embrace their bodies:
1) Stop saying negative things about your own body. What we say about our bodies matters. Think about whether what you’re saying about your body is what you want them to be saying about theirs
2) Move your body for pleasure, not punishment. Find ways you move your body that you enjoy, and talk about why you like doing it, and how it makes you feel. Hint hint, it’s not ‘going for a run because we ate the chocolate cake’.
3) Nourish and fuel your own body to encourage them to do the same. Focus on how good food makes us feel. We don’t want to be talking about ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods, or ‘junk’ food, we want to talk about listening to our bodies, and trusting what our bodies tell us in terms of being full or hungry.
4) Reconsider media influences. If your kids are on social media, sit down with them and do a bit of a cull. Where you unfollow anyone and anything that makes you feel like you should change your body. If they are too young for Instagram, try reading a lovely body positive children’s picture book with them, or open up a conversation with them about the sorts of bodies they see on the shows they are watching.
5) Start conversations that broaden our ideas about bodies. Point out all of the different flowers in a garden, or different dogs at the park, and celebrate the diversity of the world around us, focus on what our bodies can do rather than what they look like, and show yourself some kindness. All of these things add up over time, and help our kids Embrace their bodies.
For more information on how you can be involved with the Embrace: Kids movement: