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Writer, speaker and free spirit, Taryn is an internationally recognised positive body image activist rubbing shoulders with the likes of Beyoncé and Kate Moss in Brigette magazine’s acclaimed ‘Women of The Year’ awards and with her powerful message reaching over 100 million people worldwide via social media.
Taryn is most passionate about creating a generation of empowered women through delivering her seminar Developing Daughters and Supporting Sons and her online program Unstoppable.
Taryn has been interviewed by Good Morning America, NBC TODAY, and The Huffington Post and featured on the cover of Women’s Health and Fitness, her latest project, Embrace the Documentary, has been supported by the likes of Rosie O’Donnell, Zooey Deschanel, Ashton Kutcher, and Ricki Lake after a whopping 15 million viewers were moved by its compelling trailer.
She enjoys dancing like no one is watching (even when people are), sipping on green smoothies, kicking butt at karate and reading books in a hammock from her hometown of Adelaide, Australia … oh, and famously rockin’ a pair of pink and orange glasses! Enjoy her exclusive Business Heroine interview. . .
BH: Your personal story is so moving. Tell us about what sparked the Body Image Movement.
Taryn: It’s been the most organic and not-planned part of my life. I was a photographer, I was a mom of three, and after the birth of my first child, the relationship that I had with my body changed.
I didn’t like what happened to my boobs and what happened to my tummy, and it just got worse and worse after my second and third child.
After my third, I decided I was going to have surgery. I went to the surgeon and said “fix my body!” and a few weeks after the initial surgeon appointment, I was sitting watching my daughter thinking, “how am I going to go head with this surgery, and what message would that give to her?” Would that set her up for a life of body-loathing and wanting to change parts of her body? Because I think she’s perfect just the way she is!
So I decided against having my surgery. But then of course I was left in this body that I didn’t like – in fact, I loathed this body. I was at the gym one day and told my trainer that I decided against the surgery, and I wondered what it felt like to have that perfect body.
My trainer said to me, “Why don’t you train and enter a body-building competition?”
Before I knew it, I was at the gym, I was training, and in 15 weeks I lost 15 kilos, and my body completely changed. I got into a bikini, and I guess I achieved the body I had wanted for so long.
It was in that moment, standing on stage and prancing around in a bikini, that I realized, it’s just not worth it. It was when I discovered that this body of mine isn’t an ornament – it’s a vehicle in my life. And I could no longer obsess about how it looks, but focus on how it feels.
Having learned that lesson and learned all the things my body can do and how it can feel – I felt like I had won the golden ticket, and I just simply wanted to share that with as many people as I could.
So I posted my nontraditional before and after photographs on social media, in which my before had the “perfect bikini body” and the after was me sitting there naked. It went super viral, and it broke people’s brains to think a woman could love her body more in the after photo.
BH: It’s easy to fall into this illusion that some external thing is going to give us the internal feeling that we really want. How did the real internal shift happen for you? How did you actually fall in love with your body?
Taryn: I think it was just through the process. It started from appreciating what it could do and the strength that it had. I guess what I learned is that health isn’t just physical. Health is emotional and spiritual too. And while I’d achieved that body and felt physically fit, I wasn’t a rounded or balanced person emotionally or spiritually.
I discovered that it wasn’t just about one element – and my body, my weight, my cellulite, the way things jiggled – whatever it was, didn’t define the person that I was. It didn’t happen overnight, it was a process. I realized that when I can think differently about this, nothing that happens physically determines how I feel mentally.
And I guess it’s like growing a muscle! You start slow and be kind to yourself. The best thing about this is that everyone has access to feel this great.
BH: Your personal story has really catalyzed a whole movement. What have people shared about what YOU loving your own body has done for THEM?
Taryn: There have been some really beautiful, emotional and moving stories.
I actually received over 7,000 emails, and they were mostly from women sharing their stories of disdain and heartbreak about their relationship with their body. I guess seeing some diversity and hearing some true stories gives permission to have hope to feel good.
There was one story of a woman who was sexually abused as a child, and she said she had eaten her way through life to survive. She said, “Now I’m fat, and I know that I’m fat, but I’m doing the best that I can do, and I’ve never shared that with anyone.”
I really believe that this is a global epidemic of body-shaming. I’ve seen it with my own eyes and travelled all around the world, and in every country I’ve been to, women really hate their bodies. It’s such a great crime for so many brilliant minds, and half the population, to be at war with something they shouldn’t be at war with and trying to defy its natural evolution.
And as much as it’s a global epidemic, I have felt the rumblings of women that we want change, and I really hope the documentary that got 22 months of my life might just be the springboard that we can open up the conversation around living differently than how we are.
BH: If women everywhere truly started loving their bodies NOW, how would that change the world?
Taryn: This is the stuff I go to bed thinking about most nights! I know that just as myself, as an individual who’s changed my relationship with MY body, I know the impact that it’s had on my three children and my family unit and my friends.
I’ve witnessed my daughter’s relationship with her body, the way she talks about her body and the way she does things. She’s not anchored down by these thoughts, and there’s a real freedom and liberation in that.
I was recently saying to her that in this lifetime, it’s up to you and it’s up to me to support and help those people who can’t help themselves. And I know with her un-anchored-down mind, she’s able to give more to others.
On a global scale, all empaths know the tragedies that require our brilliant minds, but we’re just not there because we’re so worried about ourselves.
There are people who can’t eat or don’t have food while there are women obsessing over a bit of cellulite or extra kilos, and we need to get on with this.
I often say when I’m speaking, if you lined up a very long row of six-month old babies, and look at the diversity of those babies at six months old, what happens when we grow up to make us think we have to conform to an ideal of how we should look? We celebrate baby thighs and chubby cheeks, but when you’re an adult you can only look “a certain way.”
But so many of our sisters are not having a positive relationship with their body, therefore, they’re not able to contribute as much as they can in this life. I get so excited to think that we can all rally together to create a global movement of positive change.
When I came up with this idea, the Body Image Movement, a few years ago, I didn’t understand its enormity back then. Now having spoken to tens of thousands of women, and the yearning of where we want to be, and the conversations, I know that in my lifetime this movement will be created.
BH: Tell us about Embrace, the documentary that we have to look forward to!
Taryn: A couple years ago, after the before-and-after photo went viral, I did lots of media interviews all around the world, but it just wasn’t feeling like enough.
I thought, how do I have time to sit with millions of people and convey this message to share – not only my story, but many inspiring stories from women around the world? As a photographer I thought maybe I could take some photos, but I wanted the world to see moving imagery, and that’s the motivation for making the documentary.
I’m not a documentary filmmaker, but 22 months later I feel like I’ve lived this project, and it’s not just my story! It’s stories from inspiring women around the world who have overcome great adversity to learn to love their bodies.
It’s been my heart and my soul, and it’s going to hit cinemas in June!
It’s like my fourth child, it’s the project that I’ve done that I’m most proud of.
BH: How can the Business Heroine community get involved to support this movement?
Taryn: We have an ambassador program for the Body Image Movement of about 500 women across the world, who are giving up an hour of their time every week. It’s about injecting positivity back into the world by sharing messages of the movement.
I would just love for the Business Heroine community to come and join the ambassador program to work with like-minded women across the world to make a little bit of difference every single week.
And of course, when the documentary comes out, I encourage everyone to go and see it, and just start the conversation.
That’s really what’s going to create the change.
Join the Body Image Movement!
Join the Body Image Movement Global Ambassador Program here, and make sure to catch Embrace The Documentary in June!