A simple before and after photo was the catalyst for Taryn Brumfitt being named the 2023 Australian of the Year.

Brumfitt was launched into the spotlight when she shared a before and after image; the before pic showed her in a bikini competing in a bodybuilding competition, and in the after photo, she was pictured without clothes, noticeably curvier and with a smile on her face.

After the photo went viral, Brumfitt attained a platform that let her share body-positive messages with the nation. Since the photo was shared, she’s become an activist, writer, director and public speaker that’s passionate about changing the way Australians perceive themselves physically.

The self-image activist was presented with the Australian of the Year award by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at a ceremony in Canberra last night.

In her acceptance speech, Brumfit addressed the importance of normalising all sorts of sizes and shapes and promoting a healthy body image message.

“Australia, it is not our life’s purpose to be at war with our body,’ she said.

“Collectively we are facing some of the most challenging environmental, humanitarian and social issues of our time.

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“What if, instead of spending our days consumed by hating our bodies, we could invest our time together to solve these challenges?

“What if instead of spending their precious time and energy at war with their bodies our young people were free to become the leaders, big thinkers and game changers the world needs more of right now?

“It is not our bodies that need to change, it is our perspective.’

She told the audience that society has been  “bullied and shamed into thinking our bodies are the problem”.

She continued, “It’s working because 70 per cent of Australian school children consider body image to be their number one concern.”

“We’re facing a paediatric health emergency with rates of suicide, depression, eating disorders, anxiety and steroid use related to body dissatisfaction soaring.”

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