Taryn Brumfitt, a best-selling author, director, and advocate for positive body image, has been selected the Australian of the Year for 2023. The 45-year-old mother of four originally gained notoriety in 2013, when a straightforward “before and after” picture of her physique on Facebook went viral.

Photo: Instagram/@bodyimagemovement

When Brumfitt had her third kid, she was eager to get back to her pre-pregnancy weight and physique. 

She thought about getting plastic surgery but instead started a rigorous fitness and weight-loss programme that led to a period of bodybuilding, which included participation in a bodybuilding competition.

But her rigid obsession with obtaining the supposedly “ideal figure” did nothing but make her unhappy. 

In her book Purposeful, Jennifer Dulski quotes her as saying, “The lifestyle that I lived to have that perfect body felt very restrictive, and it wasn’t really very joyful.”

Brumfitt chose to accept her body instead, which resulted in her first viral moment.

Brumfitt’s entry into the world of body image activism began with a straightforward “before and after” reverse social media post. 

Brumfitt presented her chiseled bodybuilder look in a bikini on stage at a competition in the “before” picture, and in contrast her “after” photo showed her body after she’d given up her strict regime thereby representing her image of self acceptance. It rapidly went viral, garnering millions of views. 

Brumfitt’s book and eventual documentary, Embrace, were both inspired by the countless emails she received after sharing the picture. Since then, she has accumulated a social media following of 500,000 people, and her activism has reportedly touched hundreds of millions of people worldwide, according to her official Australian of the Year biography.

Brumfitt has made it known that she will devote a significant portion of her time as the Australian of the Year to lobbying for more funding to treat young people’s body image problems.

Regarding a “paediatric health emergency” involving youngsters who are struggling with mental health concerns and eating disorders, Brumfitt has previously asked the government to meet with her.

“It’s getting younger and younger, I have to say. I only spoke to a six-year-old recently who was dieting,” she told the ABC on Thursday.

“We really need to help our kids across Australia and the world because the rates of suicide, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, steroid use, all on the increase, related to body dissatisfaction.”