What someone else's mum taught me about body image.

Whenever I meet someone who doesn’t diet I find myself viewing them as I would an alien species. I want to study them, examine them, follow them around for a few days and observe them.

How do they do it? How have they managed to develop what I deem a “normal” relationship with food when practically everyone I am close to is a chronic dieter.

Including myself.

Sadly for me my work colleagues with whom I share a desk belong to this alien species which means I have absolutely nobody with which to share my self-hatred with, nobody to eat chocolate with and then guiltily and mutually declare we won’t be eating dinner that night.

Until this week I spent most of my time (working) pretending I too had a healthy relationship with food and managed to hold back all of my angst, managing not to review the calories in my calorie counter app until getting on the bus home.

However this week I overheard a conversation between my work colleagues about body image and it became obviously why they were them, and I was me.

Their parents had raised them to have a healthy body image by both giving them good advice, leading by excellent example and not making a big deal about food.

The total opposite of my upbringing which including regular overeating because it is Christmas/Easter/A Birthday/Sunday only to be publicly humiliated by a well-meaning (horrible) relative who loudly announced your weight gain to the room before fixing a look of complete and total disdain on you.


That same relative, upon observing your recent weight loss at the next family function would then loudly announce that you had lost weight and were TOO SKINNY and should eat, eat, eat. Sometimes – and this actually happened several times – they physically tried to feed me, holding bites of cake up to my mouth or scraping food onto my plate.

Now thanks to work colleagues whom I love and admire for many reasons – not just because they eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full, eating anything they want and seeming to be really happy – I have decided their normal food relationship deserves further investigation.

I already know two things:

  1. My work friends owe their healthy relationship with food to one or both parents;
  2. Those with kids are raising their children to have a healthy relationship with food too.

I asked my friends and work colleagues to share with me the best body image advice their parents gave them when they were young and it’s incredible reading. Not only do I feel free of my toxic relationship with food as a result of all of this amazing advice but I now know I can raise my children to be the same.

Taryn Brumfit recently joined Mia Freedman on the No Filter! podcast to discuss her Body Image Movement.