Body Image Activist Taryn Brumfitt Is Our New Australian Of The Year And Her Speech Was 10/10

taryn brumfitt

Body image campaigner Taryn Brumfitt was named the 2023 Australian of the Year on Wednesday night at the annual awards ceremony held in Canberra.

Brumfitt first rose to prominence back in 2013 when she posted a before and after pic to Facebook that went bonkers viral.

The images showed how much the former bodybuilder’s physique had changed, and the post was all about self-acceptance.

Taryn Brumfitt
The incredibly honest image that went viral around the world. Credit: Taryn Brumfitt / Facebook

Since then, Taryn Brumfitt has gone on to write four books and direct two docos (2016’s Embrace and 2022’s Embrace: Kids) all about the journey to loving and appreciating your own body.

According to the ABC, Brumfitt’s message has reached 200 million people worldwide. Can’t think of a better person to take Dylan Alcott‘s AOTY crown, tbh.

Upon accepting the Australian of the Year honour from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Taryn Brumfitt made a powerful speech about body image.

She pointed out that it’s an insidious issue that we as a society can help to turn around — but we need to act now.

You can see Taryn Brumfitt’s speech HERE or read it in full below:

“We weren’t born into the world hating our bodies. This is something the world has taught us.

“Body shaming is a universal problem and we have been bullied and shamed into thinking our bodies are the problem.

“It is working because 70 per cent of Australian school children consider body image to be their number one concern.

“We’re facing a paediatric health emergency with rates of suicide, depression, eating disorders, anxiety and steroid use — related to body dissatisfaction — soaring.

“We now know that young people with poor body image are 24 times more likely to be depressed and suffer from anxiety.

“There is so much despair in this nation for children and adults when it comes to what we think and how we feel about our bodies.

“Australia, it is not our life’s purpose to be at war with our body.

“Collectively we are facing some of the most challenging environmental, humanitarian and social issues of our time.

“What if instead of spending our days consumed by hating our bodies, we could invest our time together to solve these challenges? And what if instead of spending their precious time and energy at war with their bodies our young people were free to become the leaders, big thinkers and game changers the world needs more of right now?

“It is not our bodies that need to change, it is our perspective.

Taryn Brumfitt Australian Of The Year
Anthony Albanese presented Taryn Brumfitt with the Australian of the Year honour in Canberra on Wednesday night. Credit: Getty / Martin Ollman

“Every adult is a role model to a child and I’m not here to shame you or make you feel bad, I’m here to ask you to shift the way you think.

“Little Aussies describe their bodies as strong and energetic and powerful and they have genuine love for all the things their bodies can do.

“This gives me hope that we can get in early and block the shame and despair, create body image-safe environments for them to learn, live and play in and let them live their lives as teens and adults with the freedom that comes from embracing your body, not the illnesses that come with hating them.

“And we know that kids and adolescents who have a high appreciation of their bodies and their body image are less likely to smoke, drink or struggle with other addictions.

“This is not about encouraging obesity, this is not what I do, and this issue is not simply about weight or size, it’s about the way that we feel about all of ourselves — our skin colour, our height, our age, our gender, our unique selves — and it is learning to move, nourish, respect and enjoy our bodies, because you can’t look after something you don’t love.”

“I often say that body image is a complex puzzle just like a Rubik’s Cube. I’m not sure if you’ve done one lately but they are really tough to do.

“This year we have the Embrace Kids classroom program curriculum for Australian schools and a game-changing documentary, Embrace Kids, which we are providing every school as a free resource. It is the most important film that you and your kids will see this year.

“Our mission is to reach 1 million school children over the next three years.

“Australia, we have 28,000 days on the planet if we’re really lucky and we’re not meant to spend them at war with our bodies.

“When you take your final breath on this earth, what thoughts will be going through your mind?

“What will you be thinking about?

“No one has ever said to me: the size of their bum.

“If we can embrace that perspective now while we are capable, breathing and able, and have the gratitude for our bodies we can all access a more joyous, rich and abundant life.

“There is a lot of work to do and it starts early and it starts with us being role models for our kids by creating empowering environments where they can thrive.

“We’re tired of just talking about it, we are tired of the misery and pain of hating our bodies. My goodness Australia, we are ready for change, for ourselves and the generations to come.”

For more on Taryn Brumfitt and her amazing work in the body image space, follow her on Instagram HERE.