A close circling of the arms and pressure to the chest.

More often than not, television is entertaining. Sometimes it’s an engagement with a truth I’ve not particularly wondered about and sometimes it struggles to hit average. But last night I watched a doco on Netflix that in my humble opinion, should be force-fed to every girl from the age of 5. Its called Embrace and started with an Australian woman, Taryn Brumfitt, who decided she’d had enough of trying to control her body. In her opinion, just the fact that it had borne and breast fed three healthy children and was still taking her where she wanted to go, was enough. So she posted a before and after photo on FB. Her before was of her starved and skinny in a bodybuilder competition and her after was tastefully starkers and the way she was now. It went viral. And so did she. The negative body shaming was horrendous. She was told she was fat and ugly and lazy and needed to join a gym and apparently, what was supposed to be the worst insult of all, that the wonderful upright male citizen writing this crap, would never want to have sex with her. But overwhelmingly she received support from every woman who saw it and had experienced less than positive thoughts about her own body. They marvelled at her courage and ability to just get on with life. And they wrote of the agony and hatred they felt for their own bodies. If you chose to see this doco on either Netflix or TVNZ on Demand, you will see she’s not superwoman. Most of the women she spoke to, had strong feelings about their bodies. Only a few were positive. How can that be? Because we were brought up to be attractive above everything else. Attractive came slap bang into conflict with Women’s lib. Men who had previously had huge influence over what women wore and how they acted, saw their kingdoms disintegrating and so designed clothes to be worn by girls pretending to be women and ad campaigns that pushed the impossible. The editors of magazines for women, devoted most of their pages to the attainment of impossible goals. OK – that’s mostly my opinion but all you have to do is listen to a former female editor of Cosmopolitian to hear how difficult it was to get clothes for a size 16 model. It was not that the clothes were unavailable – oh no, they went up to size 22 in many cases, but the designers didn’t want their brand associated with anything ‘overweight.’ Take a look next time at the mannequins in the store windows. All size 8/10. The saddest thing was Tarryn visiting a plastic surgeon whose idea of ‘normal’ was so skewed it was frightening. He thought ‘normal’ was a pair of pert little breasts. Apparently the woman standing in front of him with perfectly acceptable breasts that had done what nature had intended them to do, was not. It was one of the clearest examples of how an opinion, boldly stated can cause irreversible harm. And these opinions are everywhere. I heard the words ‘thigh gap.’ Apparently that’s the unattainable goal now. I had one of those for most of my teenage years and all I wanted was for one leg to snuggle up to the other like everyone else’s did. If you diet, if you worry about how this wonderful body you have been given will be seen by others, if you stop doing things because you are ashamed, watch this programme. But make sure you have all your daughters and granddaughters sitting beside you. Why? Well its in the hope they won’t have to waste time dieting and exercising and denying themselves the fullness of life just to live up to an impossible ideal. Embrace.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISHzzBGyt4g

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