Taryn Brumfitt is an internationally recognized keynote speaker and the fiercely passionate thought leader behind The Body Image Movement.
Here is the full text of Taryn Brumfitt’s talk titled “Stop Hating Your Body; Start Living Your Life” at TEDxAdelaide conference.
Taryn Brumfitt – TEDx Talk TRANSCRIPT
You are fat. And you are disgusting. You are ugly. You have too many wrinkles. Your freckles are hideous. It sounds pretty offensive, right?
But these are the messages that have been thrown at us every single day. And many of us are buying into them. I did.
Just a few short years ago, I stood in front of the mirror, and I said to myself, “You are fat, you are disgusting, and you are ugly.” I thought that my self-worth on this planet was determined by how I looked.
So, in a body that I hated, I took myself to the surgeon, and I stripped down to my underwear, and I declared, “Help me, for my body is broken.” And he agreed.
He grabbed my fat down here and said, “I think we should remove that.” He picked up my breasts like they were dirty tissues and said, “They should be up here. Let’s fix them.”
What he didn’t know was that this stomach had housed three children, and these breasts had fed 4,000 meals to those three children. But I was so elated because the body that I thought was broken was going to be fixed.
And what I’ve realized – now, but not back then – it wasn’t my body that needed to change, it was my perspective. So many people, so many human beings across the planet, are being anchored down by this negative and dark passenger inside their heads that says, “You are not good enough.”
And you would agree with me, I’m sure, it’s hard to navigate life with this inner voice.
Now, I’m not here today to shame you or make you feel bad. I’m here to ask you to shift the way that you think. The conversation that people are having with their personal trainers, with their friends, with their hairdressers is one of negativity when it comes to their bodies.
For women, this inner voice is bad enough, but we have to walk down the street where there are billboards that tell us that we should be anything other than what we are. A bus goes past with a hot-looking chick on there. You open up a magazine, there’s more imagery. You turn on the TV, you watch a movie – it’s everywhere.
It’s such a battle for women. It is so hard. And it’s devastating what these messages are doing because we are not putting ourselves forward and using our brilliant minds, because we are being anchored down.
And we are buying into these messages that tell us that we are not good enough, and then if you don’t conform to the ideal shape of a body or what “they” determine as beautiful, your only choice is to spend your life being at war with your body: “Fight the signs of ageing”; “Defy your wrinkles”; “Cover up your trouble areas.”
If you think about a young baby, in your mind, right now, think about a young baby with dimples on its chubby, gorgeous thighs. It’s delicious, right? But if you are 25, and you have dimples on your chubby thighs, it’s a very big problem. And you’ve only got a couple of choices: go to the surgeon and have liposuction, or the very least, get yourself a gym membership.
Or you could do and make the choice that millions are, and that is to take a step back from life and start being small and hidden. Cover up your thighs; never wear shorts. If you have arms like mine, that wobble well after I’ve finished waving, never wear a singlet or a sleeveless dress. If you hate your body in a bikini, then just don’t go to the beach or enjoy that time with your kids at the pool.
Don’t do it. If you really, really hate your body, then you can stop being intimate with the one that you love. These are the choices that people are making every single day. And body-shaming and body-loathing and negativity is a universal problem. We’re all experiencing it.
I believe that we have truly lost our perspective. We have been bullied and shamed into thinking that “this” is a problem. I want to share with you a small clip from the documentary “Embrace” that I’ve just made.
(Video) ♪ You suck me in ♪ I’m hooked on you ♪ I can’t win ♪ No matter what I do ♪ All around me ♪ Everywhere I look ♪ It’s not fair ♪ You’re a snake ♪ Setting traps all over the place ♪ Never showing your face ♪ You’re killing us slowly, sometimes quickly ♪ Don’t you care? ♪ And that’s how you want to live your life ♪ You want me hungry and horny ♪ Crawling after you ♪ And begging for another spoon of it ♪ You want me stupid and lonely ♪
But I think we’ve all had just about enough of it. They’ve got us right where they want us. Hungry and horny. Wanting every product that they say, “Buy me.” We do. But I tell you what. This is not a tragedy. I want to share with you what I think is a tragedy.
This is a tragedy. Girls that went to school for an education and were taken and kidnapped. They were stolen. Many were raped, many were murdered, some came home, but they all didn’t come home. And I can’t fathom, being a mother to three children, the thought of taking my three children to school in the morning, and going to get them at the end of the day.
And they’re not there because they’ve been taken against their will. And I think what might be even worse is the thought that they’re just down the road, but I still can’t bring them home. This is a tragedy. And this is not.
People who have nowhere to go they have no home, they feel so unloved by the world. This is heart-breaking, and this is a tragedy. And this isn’t. Every three seconds on this planet, every three seconds, a child is dying, because they don’t have food.
And I know that when my son has come home from school, and he says to me, “Mum, you didn’t put enough food in my lunchbox today,” I turn into this Italian nonna. No Italian in me. But I sit him down and I want to feed him and I want to nourish him: “Are you full yet?”
So, I can’t even begin to imagine the pain of holding your child who is dying in your arms because you can’t give your child food. This is a tragedy. And this isn’t.
This little box that people stand on to determine their worth and their health: “Am I good, am I bad? What am I going to be today?” This little box that wields so much power. Young girls and women are being forced into prostitution every single day. And yet so many women and people are consumed by things that don’t matter, like a few lines on the side of their body.
No home, no hope, no food, no choice – these things are tragedies. And I’m not saying that body dissatisfaction isn’t.
I have seen and read with my very own eyes some heart-breaking stories of people who are suicidal and have depression and anxiety related to body dissatisfaction. I’m not saying that that isn’t tragic. It is. But what isn’t is the way that my thighs rub together when I walk. Or my stomach that has an overhang over my knickers. Or my breasts that are deflated because I fed the 4,000 meals. Did I mention that?
Or my back fat, or when I go to the shops, and I try on some jeans, and they just don’t fit because my bum’s too big. That is not a tragedy. I have asked thousands of people across the world this question: “When you take your final breath on this earth, what thoughts will be going through your mind? What will you be thinking about?”
And no, one has ever said to me, their big bum, or their cellulite, or their stretch marks. Because those things don’t matter. And if we can come back to the here and now, while we’re living and breathing and capable and able, and have that perspective and have that gratitude, we all have access to a joyous and rich and abundant life.
Today when I removed the blinkers, and looked at this body for the amazing body that it is, I saw life differently, and I came to the realization that everything up until that moment had been a lie, and I had been carrying on like an ungrateful arsehole. It’s true.
And I believe, if I look beyond those lights, that I could maybe find some ungrateful arseholes in this audience as well. And it’s okay because we’re human beings.
We’ve just been taken off course and led down a path that’s not joyful or fun. And we just need to tap into our perspective and come back.
But I would like to set a challenge for each and every one of you here today, and that is to consider the strength of your character and your spirit. It doesn’t need a perfect body, it needs a kind and resilient heart, and when you tap into perspective and look at this body for the amazing body that it is, you will have overflowing gratitude.
Because your body is not an ornament; it is the vehicle to your dreams.