If we could just change the world with good intentions...
The change in season is here; I stepped out yesterday morning and noticed that plum blossoms have burst their delicate beauty upon our garden. A little like daughters, really - we can nurture and anticipate, but they choose their own timing.
But just like trees in a garden or a forest, young people are affected by what happens around them. What people say, or don't say. What they see often, and what they never see.
I'm no perfect Earth Mother - I love a good movie as much as anyone. I like losing myself in a story, or being taken on an entertaining learning journey.
My kids love movies, too. And any other media they're allowed, just like their friends. My work is based on getting young people and women to know, love and take care of their body and themselves - but when we're constantly exposed to an 'ideal' female body look, how can we get comfortable in our own skin?
I've had my own journey with accepting my body; at 24 I was trapped in a housefire and had 65% of my body receive 'full thickness burns' as the medical staff say. For the first 50 days it was touch and go whether I would live.Thankfully, though, after 2 months in intensive care and half a year in hospital all told, I got out of the wheelchair to live a full and glorious life. My arms, legs, feet, back and hands are all scarred.
I had been a feminist since my early teens, staunchly defending my right to be known as a Ms, and snorting with derision at men who thought they had the right to rate my looks or body, hotly debating women's rights. I remember trying dieting around Year 10, but I just couldn't keep up the effort. I liked food too much! Still, the niggling voice wanting to be 'beautiful' persisted.
My earliest heroes - Jane Eyre and Elizabeth Bennett in Pride & Prej, were feisty and spoke their own mind. I don't recall them being featured as beautiful. Books gave me one perspective, but every movie or TV show I saw, every billboard or ad, showed women with flawless skin and a relentlessly similar body type.
Well, burns, nearly dying and being fed through the nose are a cheap way to lose weight. I dropped around 15kg and had skinny legs for the one and only time in my life. It wasn't a source of satisfaction, though; I was itching to get to uni, back to my friends and dancing - back to life. I had lovers who cherished me and my body, and I fell in love with a wonderful man who is now my husband, who said I had warrior goddess scars.
I kept my body covered from the sun to avoid skin cancer, but there was no reason for long sleeves on a hot night other than hiding my scars. I didn't realize how I was holding myself back until one hot New Year's Eve a few years after the fire, I realized I could dance at a humid Queensland music festival in a singlet top just like anyone else - and no-one cared if I had scars. They were doing their own thing. So I got on with doing mine. And I realized I can love my body, just the way it is.
A few days ago I saw Taryn Brumfitt's movie Embrace, and I would like EVERYONE I know to see it.
It started with her challenging the status quo - she posted an 'After' shot where she's happy with her generous post-3-babies body. It went viral; she had over 2 million views, and thousands of comments.
you So many women wrote things along the lines of 'I think my body's disgusting... Please help me.'
So she set out to find out why so many women hate their bodies and what we can do about it.
She did research, and went travelling, and over the course of her journey and the movie, we meet many different characters, often leaving a powerful effect. Some that stood out for me:
If you prefer websites to movies, Taryn Brumfitt has created the Body Image Movement, and on it are articles like:
I'm now taking bookings:
A Celebration Day for Girls 1.5 day workshop
for 10-12 year old girls and their mother/female carer
Step into Womanhood Mother Daughter Bali Retreat July 2017 for 11-13 year old girls and their mother/female carer. 2 places already booked for 2017 - it's selling out earlier each year!
Fathers Celebrating Daughters workshop with Janoel Liddy for fathers of tween and teen girls to prepare for a positive transition to puberty and growing up.
Enquiries/Bookings: Janoel Liddy on ph: 0408 664 919 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
-Janoel Liddy is passionate about girls and women recognizing and acting on their needs to lead a satisfying life. She teaches puberty and wellbeing to girls and boys in schools, facilitates workshops and retreats and works with groups in TAFE, university and community organisations in training and events. She is a mother of two with her partner of over two decades and dances, cooks, reads and writes when she can and must.