“This body of mine is not an ornament – it’s a vehicle,” says director Taryn Brumfitt in her documentary “Embrace.” The film’s conception came about after Brumfitt, an Austrian photographer and mother of three, posted an unconventional before-and-after image of herself online, celebrating body diversity without trying to make a huge political statement … until it went viral. Brumfitt realized just how many women worldwide hate their bodies, and set out to interview and connect with them all. Her movie questions whether “beautiful” is the most important thing a woman can be (spoiler alert: it isn’t). Durango photographer McCarson Jones, an active participant in the fight for positive body image, is sponsoring a screening of “Embrace” at the Animas City Theatre for two nights (Sept. 25 & 26, both free to the public). We spoke with Jones about how the media contributes to cruel body shaming and what we can learn from this topical doc.
What’s the connection between “Embrace” and your photography work with Red Scarf Shots?My business is associated with a lot of body image and social contact groups. We speak and share and give guidance about the work we do as boudoir photographers and photographing women in general. So many women hate to be in front of the camera because they’re judging themselves. The Body Image Movement is one particular group I’m involved with – and that’s Taryn’s movement. On her Facebook page, she posted about this documentary, and I was like, ‘Our community needs that, the women I work with need that, I need that.’ I contacted the Animas City Theatre and started getting everything organized. Michele Redding is donating the theater the two nights of the screening, since she felt so moved by the film. And I bought the two film screening evenings. No one has to pay to get into the shows on Sunday and Monday, it’s free. We have a pretty proactive community here, so I didn’t think one night was enough.
How does the media objectify women or contribute to unhealthy body image?Oh man. Number one, I’m a photographer who doesn’t use Photoshop. I have Lightroom, where I can adjust some lighting. But I’m not the photographer who will stretch your neck or thighs and lengthen your hair. I don’t believe in it. I’m a naturalist and a truist, and the media is exactly the opposite. There’s some magazines or corporations coming along to embrace natural beauty and not doing the massive editing, and a lot of celebrities standing against having themselves Photoshopped to the degree where it’s not them, and they’re a little offended. But the media bombards both young and old men and women with what they should think, eat, own. It’s really sad, and with all those visuals out there to look at, it triggers people who don’t look like that to have poor body image. It snowballs into a negative dialogue with yourself.
What can people do to combat body shaming? My grandmother used to tell me that if you just mind your own business, you’ll be fine. There are a lot of people who aren’t involved in the body image movement. But I think our society has become so quick to judge and we’re so visual – that’s a big part of the whole body shaming and degrading people. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything.
Why is this an important doc for people to see?One of my tango instructors told me, ‘Your dance is going to become as unique as your face.’ That really rang true for me, as I thought, ‘I don’t want to dance like this or that person.’ I just want to dance. It’s the same with this movie. Everyone will identify with at least one or more of the characters being interviewed, talking about their own body struggles. We as a community can build on supporting people to be their true selves.
Were you always comfortable, confident and positive about yourself? Or did it take you a long time to get there? I’m still not there! I’m happy and comfortable with a lot of things about me and my life. But not a day goes by that I don’t wonder, ‘Gosh, did this fit me quite right?’ I feel like I don’t have to worry about my style, I believe in myself, but I still question, ‘Are people going to think I look funny in this?’ Positivity is a huge part of happiness. I have happiness in many other realms of my life, but I’m not going to lie, I do struggle, just like every other woman, like, ‘Jesus, am I going to be OK today?’ And then there’s some days when you just don’t give a shit.
Anya Jaremko-GreenwoldDGO Staff Writer