To the 2023 Australian of the Year critic – yes, it is okay to be ‘a bit fat’

Sam Tench / Photo blogs / / 2 Comments

This Australia Day, tensions have been high with a debate between those calling for a change to the date, those wanting to scrap it altogether, and those wanting to keep it as it is.  The arguments continue.  As Australians celebrated living in this great country, the newly appointed Australian of the Year for 2023, Taryn Brumfitt, was met with a barrage of criticism from those who felt she was not worthy of the honour. Despite Taryn’s work advocating for body positivity, those on the opposing side argued that there were more deserving candidates. While the debate over the future of Australia Day continues to rage, the appointment of Taryn presents an opportunity to recognize her meaningful work and the importance of body positivity.

In recent years, more people have been diagnosed with a range of illnesses, including eating disorders, body dysmorphia, and mental health disorders in general. Organisations such as the Butterfly Foundation and the National Eating Disorders Collaboration have been working hard and fighting for greater support and services for those affected. They provide invaluable resources and support for individuals, families, and carers and help raise awareness of these conditions’ serious and potentially life-threatening nature.

The Australian Government has taken a major step forward by awarding Taryn Brumfitt the Australian of the Year award in 2023. Taryn is an advocate for body positivity and has inspired millions of people. Her relentless work in normalising body diversity and challenging society’s beauty ideals has been important in creating a more inclusive and supportive environment for those with eating disorders and other mental health challenges.

Who is Taryn Brumfitt?

I learned of this year’s recipient as I drove to the supermarket. I was listening to the radio but admittedly not paying much attention. As I pulled into the carpark, I heard the name ‘Taryn’ and thought, I know that name, but where from? Then a moment of clarity. Taryn Brumfitt is an Australian body-positive advocate and founder of the Body Image Movement. Her mission is to inspire people to love their bodies and to spread the message of body positivity. Taryn has been an influential voice in the body acceptance movement and has made a lasting impression on the global conversation about body image.

When Taryn Brumfitt was announced as 2023 Australian of the year, I’m sure many people knew little about this woman and her work. Certainly, in previous years, I’ve absent-mindedly asked the same question. Generally, the Australia Day Award has not caught my attention until this year, 2023.

Discussing body image and the fight against body image disorders is impossible without mentioning Taryn Brumfitt. She is an Australian body image activist who founded the Body Image Movement in 2012. Her mission is to promote body positivity and help people break free from the crushing, unrealistic beauty standards that society dictates.

Taryn’s work has been documented in her powerful documentary, Embrace. In the film, we follow Taryn on her personal journey as she battles against the inner voice that society and the media have programmed into her—the voice that tells her she needs to change her body to be accepted. Through her journey, she learns how to embrace her body exactly as it is and become an advocate for body positivity.

Taryn is an example of someone who has dedicated her life to helping others break free from body image issues. She speaks out about the importance of self-acceptance and encourages people to love their bodies and find joy in them, no matter their size or shape. In addition to her documentary, Taryn has written a book, Embrace Your Body, and travels around the world giving talks to inspire others to love their bodies.

When Taryn Brumfitt set out on her self-healing journey, she had a broader and selfless goal. After struggling with her own body image issues, she wanted to find a way to help others who also faced the same challenge. She wanted to find a proven methodology to help people overcome the same issues she had faced. The documentary Embrace is the result of her journey.

By healing herself, she is better equipped to help others

Embrace is not exclusively about Taryn ‘s story but rather about the stories of those who have faced similar issues. Through this project, Taryn provided an honest and raw look into the daily struggles that many people deal with. The film addresses many issues that are related to body image. It talks about the importance of loving ourselves and embracing our bodies for what they are, regardless of what society tells us. It also looks at how our society has become obsessed with physical appearance, and how this can lead to many issues.

For the critics out there, rest assured that Embrace is a powerful film that has the potential to help people around the world. Through her own struggles and willingness to share her story, Taryn gives us all an opportunity to gain insight and learn from the experiences of others.


A reference to the critics

As a society, we should applaud the decision to recognise body image as a significant and potentially life-threatening issue facing our country today. This issue affects Australians of all ages, genders, backgrounds, and socio-economic levels and deserves our attention and support.

Unfortunately, there are opposing trains of thought, or perhaps no thought, when it comes to this important issue.

Consider this statement from an Australian journalist in reference to Taryn receiving the Australian of the year.  This journalist, adding his well-thought-out and researched opinion, declared the Australian of the Year should not be:

“… someone who makes a buck out of saying it’s ok to be a bit fat.”

Another comment from one of his supporters:

“Aussie of the year all about body image. Very important issue in third world countries. Great leadership from Australia.”

A word from the Butterfly foundation

The Butterfly Foundation CEO Kevin Barrow has previously highlighted that according to research, body dissatisfaction is one of the most disturbing issues in the minds of younger Australians. He says that “People who are dissatisfied with their body image are at higher risk of developing serious mental illness including eating disorders”, and this is something that we should all be aware of.

Eating Disorders have one of the highest death rates of any mental illness. We need to create resources and education for people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds to ensure that they understand the risks associated with body dissatisfaction. We need to work together to create a more inclusive, safe, and supportive environment for Australians.

We need to ensure we support those affected by body image issues. We need to work together to create a more inclusive, safe, and supportive environment for Australians. Body image is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. Let’s support and applaud the decision to honour body image and eating disorders in the Australian of the Year Award in 2023.


Mike Carlton’s shameful twitter response to 2023’s Australian of the Year sparks controversial debate online about body image




  1. Julie Johnson  —  2 February 2023 at 9:38 pm

    Yeah, yes and finally!! This will be a short one Sam as I feel only one thing here, we need to be accepted for who we are other than our weight, appearance and sexual orientation. This was a great Australian of the year role model and our bodies and thoughts regarding all aspects of life continue to change as we grow older, hopefully wiser and more accepting of ourselves. Lots of love Julie, take it on board we are strong women and need to love ourselves for who we are.


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