Why, why, why? Let’s Get Real!

The sheer number of people who cross our path here at the Body Image Movement continually blows me away. Just last week we had a reach on social media of over 6.4 million people. That is A LOT of people and whilst the Body Image Movement moves faster than ever – reaching more and more people worldwide – I thought it would be the perfect time to spotlight the tiny team behind the growing Body Image Movement. Yes, we are a tiny team. The round-the-clock social media content, kickass initiatives and programs, and our speedy email responses don’t come from a multi-level building with dozens of people, it comes from a single-room office from a single-digit team.

From the Girls Night In and the Race to Embrace, we are in no short supply of creative initiatives to ensure our messages are heard far and wide in every pocket of the globe. We were especially driven and passionate about releasing Embrace in all its fabulousness, and since January 2017, we have released the documentary in the UK, Ireland, U.S, and, Canada. To say that it doesn’t stop around here is an understatement.

The pace at which we work is not for the faint of heart, but we have an edge—and that is YOU.

YOU: the hundreds of thousands of people that send us loving and supportive messages every single day. Recently, I received a message from a mother who said that Embrace saved her daughter’s life. I can’t put into words how much that means to me. At the beginning of Body image Movement when I was speaking to 12 people at the local community hall about ‘loving their body’, I could never have imagined that years on, someone would be writing to me to say my message saved a life. It makes me tear up even just writing these words. At the heart and soul of everything we do and every decision we make is you: the community. Everything we create exists to inspire you, to help you flick the switch from body loather to body lover, to educate you and we strive to do it in a way that makes you laugh and makes you feel worthy and loved because you are.

We do have our bad days.

Whilst most of what we are surrounded by is fabulous feedback and positive stories, it’s not always rainbows and unicorns. One day, I found myself in a bit of a funk and I want to share with you what happened in the hope it will create more space for patience, understanding, and kindness.

Why, why, why?

It seemed that all in one sitting of reading emails, I got hammered by people demanding more from me, from my team, and the movement. Questions like: “Why is Embrace not available in my school?”, “Why do you charge for speaking?”, “Why is Embrace not playing in a cinema in my hometown?”. Why, why, why? So many why’s! But the pièce de résistance was the email that read: “If you really cared about spreading this message then why are you charging for Embrace?”.

Now if there is one thing I don’t deal with very well, it’s disappointing people. Nothing brings me to my knees like the thought of letting someone down. If I were to lie in bed worrying about something, it wouldn’t be about a TV appearance, or speaking in front of thousands of people or even questioning my capability to lead a global movement, it would be ruminating about someone in the world thinking I’d disappointed them.

Recently, I thought to myself, perhaps people’s perception vs. reality is skewed. Maybe if I can enlighten with some facts it might encourage people to be more patient and kinder. So here are three short answers to some of the questions I receive…

Why is Embrace not available in my country?

Distributing a film all over the world takes time. One of the easiest solutions to distributing Embrace worldwide would have been to upload it online and for people to simply ‘click and buy’. We chose not to because we wanted to honour the film by bringing people together to watch it in cinemas.

We first released in cinemas in Australia, then New Zealand, then onto US, UK, Ireland and Canada. I have travelled to each of those countries over the past 12 months, ‘handing over my baby’ so to speak and standing in front of audiences sharing my vision for the film and the movement. There have now been over 500 screenings of Embrace and each of those screenings has been a beautiful experience. People coming together, people crying together, people laughing together, strangers sharing their personal and heartfelt stories; it has been a beautiful thing. I wouldn’t trade all the money in the world for those experiences; there is nothing more powerful than bringing a room of people together and ‘getting on the same page’. Anyone who has experienced a screening of Embrace will agree there is something really magical about it.

Why do you charge for speaking?

When I am feeling bold and confident my answer to this question is because my time is valuable, and my speaking ability is worth every cent! I’ve spent years honing my skills from speaking to the leadership team at Google in Silicon Valley, to keynote speaking at global conferences in Singapore—I have something valuable to say and my time is as precious as the next person’s. The other reason is, what sort of women’s empowerment leader would I be if I was to disempower myself? Gratefully, every cent that I’ve made speaking about body empowerment has gone back into the Body Image Movement, which further supports my cause and dream of a more embracing world. This leads me to the biggest question…

If you really cared about spreading this message, then why are you charging for Embrace?

I’m going to try my best to be a grown-up when answering this one, but how I’d love to respond to this is, “How the fuck do you think the bills get paid, and DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MUCH MONEY IT COSTS TO MAKE AND PROMOTE A FILM?!”. Although this answer is short and sweet, in order to answer this question as a “grown-up”, it is going to get a little personal.

Let me dispel some movie making myths. Recently the press flippantly stated, “Taryn’s gamble paid off with a pay-check of 1.1 million dollars”. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There are a lot of mouths to feed before the filmmaker receives a cent. Embrace was released in August 2016 and to date, we have not received one single dollar.

I was immensely proud that for nearly five years I stood on my own two feet, with another set of feet standing right by my side—my husband, Mat. We invested over half a million dollars of our own money to cover the costs of running the Body Image Movement and we never compromised our integrity. When a global company wanted me to represent them as a brand ‘ambassador’ I said no. Although it would have been great for my profile and financially rewarding, it would have diluted the message of Body Image Movement.

The Body Image Movement website has a huge volume of traffic and engagement. Do we advertise? No. Could we? Yes, in a heartbeat. Would it take away from the user experience to have to advertise? Yes, so we don’t.

Every decision that we make is made with YOU in mind, even at the sacrifice of our own personal finances. So, when I receive an email saying, “give the film away for free”, it makes me disappointed to think that someone can be so unaware of what the reality is.

I think people would be shocked to know that whilst we raised $331,000 on Kickstarter to make Embrace, the shortfall between money raised vs. actual cost is vastly different. The final film budget for Embrace was just under one million dollars.

And finally, it may be a shock that we are just a team of five, but I’ve never worked with a harder working, committed or driven team—they are simply remarkable. So, when you see us doing what we do, know that’s done with pure love and integrity, from a very busy office, from a bunch of very dedicated people who probably (if passed in the street) deserve a very big hug!

Love and hugs,

Taryn xx

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