INTERVIEW: Taryn Brumfitt, author, film director & mother on embracing your body, setting a positive example, & having your best family holiday yet

We all know kids learn by example. They pick up social, emotional, and vocal queues from their parents at a scary rate which can then go onto form life-long attitudes and values.

When it comes to holidays, especially beach-side ones, the thought of standing bikini-clad on a beach has many scrambling for a few vigorous last-minute workouts in hopes of being “bikini body ready”. But what is this teaching our children?

Well, after spotting her on a beautiful family getaway to Club Med Bintan Island in Indonesia, we spoke directly with a woman who is dedicating her life to making sure the ones leading by example (that’s you folks, the parents!) are understanding what this is not only teaching ourselves, but teaching our children too.

Taryn Brumfitt is an Australian-born, internationally-loved, author and director of the social-change documentary, Embrace. After creating her award-winning documentary encouraging women worldwide to embrace their bodies, Taryn identified the need to also ensure we’re learning this important value from a much younger age. Ever since, Taryn has been running marathons, writing books, and much, much more, all to raise money for her next big project: the Embrace Kids documentary. Did we mention she’s also a mum of three?

So, what’s Taryn’s secret to staying so positive with so many life and societal pressures? Here’s what we found out:

You’ve had quite a busy start to the year! Tell us a little bit about what’s been happening in your world over the past few months.

As I write this I scratch my head and think ‘What HAVEN’T we been doing!”. One of the missions of the Body Image Movement is to create content and products that inspire people to embrace their bodies, so we’ve been flat out creating and launching earrings, necklaces, yoga mats, embrace warrior woman prints, we’ve really had our creative on! The best thing about all of our products is that 100% of proceeds goes towards the next film we are currently financing – Embrace Kids documentary. We also wrote and recorded a kid’s song (https://abcmusic.lnk.to/Embrace) I’m writing my third and fourth book simultaneously (don’t ask me why!) and we’ve taken over 1000 women on the journey to embrace through the online program – Embrace You. I also ran a marathon, which was crazy and hard but we raised over $50,000 for Embrace Kids so it was worth the pain!

2    Wow, you have achieved so much AND managed to fit in a family holiday to Club Med between it all! Knowing you had so much going on, why did you feel this was the moment to take a holiday?

 I am sure any parent reading this agrees with me when I say life with kids is so fast-paced, there’s always something to make, somewhere to go, a present to buy, sport, sport, sport. SO. MANY. DEMANDS!!  So, I actually think ANY moment is a good moment to sneak away!

3    A recent study* found that a staggering 40% of shared ‘family time’ is spent checking smart devices, and parents are looking towards holidays as a chance to spend quality time with their loved ones. Is that one of your major travel motivators? Did this holiday allow you to spend quality time with your family?

 My children are 13, 11 and 9, they have grown up with screens so this figure whilst staggering actually doesn’t surprise me. I think it’s a constant battle for a lot of parents to manage screen time, it’s also quite frankly exhausting! Our Bintan holiday helped us to reconnect with one another through quality time in the pool, in the ocean and playing lots of soccer! I think the holiday reminded the kids of how much fun there is to experience off the games and screens!

 4    Did you notice any changes in your family on holiday? Did you bring home any healthy habits or learnings from your holiday that you’ve integrated into your family home life?

 I really noticed how connected the kids were with each other.  I remember lying by the pool one afternoon watching them play harmoniously together for over an hour – this never happens at home! They were laughing, having conversations and using their imaginations by making up games, it was actually really beautiful to watch.

 One thing that we did bring home is the importance of eating together. My boys have soccer training 4 nights during the week so it’s rare that we can all sit down together for a family meal. Our holiday in Bintan reminded me of how much I missed this time, so now we eat together as often as we can however we can, it might be brekky or lunch on the weekend, sometimes it’s afternoon tea!

5    The mark of a successful holiday is one that caters for every member of the family, allowing you to spend time together, but also to have precious time with yourself and partner. Did Club Med tick all these boxes for you?

 I call it the holiday trifecta, time for me, time for us as a family and time for my husband and I. Yes, a mighty big tick in all of the boxes!

 To be honest I usually find family holidays quite exhausting, this trip to Club Med was the first time I’ve EVER come home from a holiday not needing a holiday.

 What I loved most about Club Med is that we didn’t have to think about mealtime, the enormous buffet with several choices of cuisine meant that everyone’s needs were catered for.  Best of all - you don’t have to wait, you arrive at the restaurant and a minute later you’re eating, this is key (for peace and harmony) when you have kids who are starving because they’ve been on the go all day.

6    Holidays are a great opportunity for some screen-free downtime however, it’s easy to be inspired by your beautiful surroundings and share each minute of your holiday on social media. Do you have any holiday rules for screen time on holiday?

 Yes, we did, rules are essential when it comes to screen time! We had roughly half an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening. We would take photos throughout the day only on my phone (for our own keepsake) but sharing was kept to a minimum, maybe one or two images a day.

 I think it’s really important to acknowledge how easily it is to become wrapped up in sharing every single moment of our lives but what I try to do for myself (and teach my kids) is to experience the beauty of a moment through the lens of your eyes, not always through your camera.

7    You’re a big believer in being your true, authentic self on social media. Why is this so important and how do you approach this with your own family?

 If you are not being yourself, who are you being? If you are pretending to be something that you’re not, what does that say about you? There is a great quote from a guy called Steve Furtick, he says “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else's highlight reel.” Oh so true, and even more so on social media. I have over half a million followers across a number of social media channels and I thinks its my responsibility in a sea of photoshopped ‘picture-perfect’ images to show some of the messiness of life. I think people appreciate and feel comforted by seeing someone else’s wheels fall off occasionally!

8    You’ve dedicated your life to encouraging people of all ages to embrace themselves and concentrate on feeling their best, not simply looking their best. What are your tips for feeling confident on holiday?

 Practicing gratitude is key. Every morning on your holiday, before the day starts, take a couple of minutes to be still and grounded and reflect on how fortunate you are to be on holidays - no work, no washing, no cooking, no stress! What a privilege! If you have a tendency to be self conscious about what you look like on holidays (hello bikini for a lot of women), create a mantra to help set the intention for the day, it might be something like this:

 “Today I am going to enjoy my body and seek out adventures. My body is not an ornament; it is the vehicle to my dreams.”

 Worrying about your body on holiday can rob you of the whole entire beautiful experience of being on holiday. Remember that no one actually cares if you have a bit of cellulite on your thighs or some extra jiggle on your butt. NO ONE CARES and nor should you. It is NOT the soul purpose of your life to be at war with your body, especially when you’re on a beach with a mojito in your hand! 

9    Did you feel that Club Med enables people to be their ‘best self’ while on holiday?

Absolutely! You don’t need to think about a thing, I’ve never been more relaxed. What I love most about Club Med is how it’s all inclusive, there’s no stress about the cost of 5 burgers for lunch or a round of cocktails by the pool. A couple of years ago, on holiday at a resort I ordered 3 milkshakes by the pool for the kids, when I got the bill I nearly died, it cost $21. These kinds of expenses put pressure on families, Club Med takes all of that worry away.

Another example of how the ‘all-inclusive’ structure helps people connect with their best self is if you enjoy doing an activity you can do it again and again and again, with no charges. Snorkeling was our ‘again and again’ activity, we did it as a family every day. The kids loved cruising in the ocean on a boat and they had so much fun with the instructors. Usually on holidays these kinds of activities would be a once off, not at Club Med, we were serial snorkelers!

10   What is your message to anyone feeling like they need to get ‘bikini body ready’ before a jetting off on a beach-side holiday?

Try not to get too caught up with how you are going to look on your holiday, rather spend more time on how you want to feel on your holiday. I hear so many stories of people who get sick on holidays and I’m pretty certain it’s because they are so focused on punishing their bodies in the lead up to a holiday to look a certain way. Smashing their bodies to get toned, dieting to lose kilos, obsessing over calories and engaging in dysfunctional eating. I’m sure these people start their holidays and their bodies are simply exhausted. Getting ready for a holiday is stressful enough – where will the dog go, who will housesit, finishing off the work to-do list, we DON’T need another pressure added to the list!

11   You speak about finding ‘Sparkle Moments’ in life. Did you experience any on your holiday?

 Yes, lots! I am always seeking out adventure. I was 3 weeks away from running my second marathon whilst in Bintan so I had to keep my training schedule up in between the Pina Coladas! One morning I went for a run through the jungle, what made it a sparkle moment was that I had a bum bag full of mini bananas and the jungle was full of monkeys! Every time I heard a noise in the bushes I imagined a monkey jumping out and attacking me!

My biggest sparkle moment in Bintan was going for a skinny dip in the ocean! I strangely woke up at 5am (strange because I like my bed in the morning!) and with the family asleep I decided to go meditate on the beach. The beach was so peaceful, the water was so warm and there wasn’t a single soul in sight. I got the urge to swim, so ungracefully and in a panicked state I undressed, threw my clothes on a rock and dove in. It was pure bliss and felt very sparkly! 

12  Tell us about your upcoming project, EMBRACE Kids.

 I am currently financing Embrace Kids, it’s a documentary on body image for 8-12 year olds. My first film Embrace was seen by millions of people around the world and had a profound impact on how people felt about their bodies. The feedback I received over and over was “If only I had seen Embrace when I was a child”. We know that negative body image is the number concern of children, we also have the data that proves the ‘cut through’ of education through film.

No child should spend their life at war with their body like so many of us have, the cycle has to end now. We need to encourage our children to know that their bodies are not ornaments in life but rather the vehicles to their dreams.

 Embrace Kids doco will have the same heart and soul as Embrace, just without the f-bombs and vulva scene!

 This film is so important; once made we will give it away to schools across the globe as a FREE resource.

 How can we get involved?

We need to finance this film, so far we’ve raised just over $150,000 towards our $500K target, so lots of work to be done but there are many ways everyBODY can be involved…  

Firstly, make sure you sign up to Body Image Movement at www.bodyimagemovement.com and connect with us on socials. Then go check out the GoFund me page  https://au.gofundme.com/f/embrace-kids-documentary and make a contribution, even just a fiver will help! If you are a business and would like to make a tax deductible donation, head here: https://documentaryaustralia.com.au/project/embrace-kids/  If you want to partake in some guilt-free shopping with 100% of proceeds going to Embrace Kids, check out our products  here: https://bodyimagemovement.com/shop/

And one tip for any parent reading this, know that in the eyes of your child you are Kings and Queens, they are looking to you to model positive body image behavior, they are sponges, they are taking it all in. So nourish your body with food for energy, move your body for pleasure and not punishment and always, always speak positively about your incredible and magical body.