Ashey Bines VERSUS Taryn Brumfitt
Several people messaged me about the Channel 7 expose that pitted Ashey Bines against Taryn Brumfitt. Which is just as well, because I am not a creature that naturally tunes in to channel 7. But certainly the topic grabbed my attention. Taryn was our Key Note speaker at our very first Women’s Health and Fitness Summit and I loved attending (with my 16 year old daughter) and connecting with Taryn again, at the opening of her movie Embrace.
The Self Improvement Cause Corner
First up was Ashey Bines of the Ashey Bines Bikini Body Challege championing the cause for self -improvement. Now for those who do not know who Ashey Bines is… she has made a name for herself as a Personal Trainer running bootcamps coupled with diet plans. Originally starting in Queensland, ABBBC has now spread all over Australia and has a HUGE social media following. Using the power of Before and After shots Ashey has influenced thousands of women to diet and work out, get into their bikini and document the journey to a better you!
Over the last couple of years Ashey Bines has documented her pregnancy and birth of her first child via social media and quickly returned to having the poster girl body which has successfully taken her business to new heights.
The Self Acceptance Cause Corner
In complete contrast is Taryn Brumfitt of the Body Image Movement, championing the cause for self-acceptance. Taryn became an internet sensation when she posted a reverse Before and After photo. Taryn undertook a fitness and diet challenge and competed in a female body building competition. Complete with hooker heels and spray tan. Taryn discovered achieving the bikini body did not automatically meant she felt better about herself and her body. And neither did the other women on stage with her. They all had the bodies that comes from extreme dedication and hard work, yet all they could see were their personal (so called) flaws.
Taryn came to the conclusion that to maintain the look that social media totes as fit and healthy – long, lean with very little body fat took away far too much from her family, her own time and from her mental health. For Taryn, as for many other women, having the ideal bikini body is not necessarily a pre-cursor to happiness.
Channel 7 were wanting us, their audience, to choose who has it right? – Ashey or Taryn? Self-improvement versus self-acceptance.
Who is Right? Who is Wrong?
Because isn’t that what we do – base judgements on women predominately on how they look? And then on how they behave?
I think there are 3 important factors that we need to consider before weighing into the who is better that who mentality.
Different strokes for different folks.
I know that when I was younger I went to enormous lengths to maintain how my body looked. It was of the utmost important that my weight was under a magical number. It meant that I went to bed most nights with a tummy grumbling from hunger (which I felt quite pleased of myself for being in control). I would keep a daily count in my head (and on paper if I felt that I was going off the rails and losing “control”) of my calories consumed.
My exercise routine was more based around what burnt the most calories, rather than enjoying movement for movement sakes!
When I had my first baby, my focus was to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I was determined not to be one of those women who let themselves go.
Because I placed an enormous value on how my body looked, the self-improvement regime made me feel good.
So had Ashey Bines been around then for me, chances are she would have got my attention and my spend, to get the body she promised me.
However, I got the feeling from the report that now Ashey Bines is a mum, she has much more empathy towards other mothers. Which reminded me of another famous fitness power house and first time mum: Michelle Bridges – known for her “no excuses” motto regarding putting your training and diet first. Last month my friend, Emma Issacs, did a brilliant job of interviewing Michelle in Melbourne’s 9 To Thrive and there was a very obvious softening to her pre-baby “no excuses” stance.
The reality is that until you experience being a new mum NOTHING can prepare you for the sleep deprivation that you are likely to experience. Or for the reality of caring for your own child (or 3) and the impact that each and every pregnancy and birth has on your body.
(The other Mish in the business – Michelle Bridges – she is on left… obviously we are constantly being confused in the fitness Industry!)
Which leads me to my second point:
Each and every pregnancy is different.
And your age and genetics have a lot to do with everything. I had my first baby before I turned 30 and my body did bounce back fairly quickly. I also had the good fortune of making LOTS of milk, which saw the extra kilo’s drop fairly easily. Apart from one stretch mark, that soon faded to silver my body soon looked much like it did before I got pregnant.
My second baby was born when I was inching toward my mid thirties and the difference was enormous. It seemed from the moment I saw the second line on the wee stick my belly protruded and expanded. And it expanded in a way that I felt my skin stretch to points that I knew it would not go back post baby! And it is true, no matter how thin I have been and how little body fat I have, I have a pouch that is my pregnancy souvenir and here to stay. The changes were also internally different – where I felt strength return to my pelvic floor post first birth, after the second I never seemed to be able to improve it. (All good now, but like any post-natal woman I carry the 50% risk factor for prolapse, so am forever mindful of how I treat it).
I dare say that had I had more pregnancies, labours and births this trend would continue down to the negative side of town.
It was also much more difficult to control my eating and my exercise with a baby and a toddler. Many meals were had standing at the counter or just mindlessly hovering up the remains of my children’s meals.
A full night’s sleep was wishful thinking and some days it was a struggle to get through to the end.
I have seen, many times over, the above scenario played out with the hundreds of women I have worked with.
One child does make an impact on your body. Without a doubt. But the second and third and on-going pregnancies and births leaves a much greater mark. And some of these marks can not be reversed with diet or exercise, so then we need to appreciate that our body is designed to change with age.
Trolls belong under the Bridge
The single thing that linked all of the stories of the women were the comments that each of these women (and Michelle Bridges is not without her fair share) received. Nasty comments made to all of the women while they were posting photos of pregnancy, or in Taryn’s case – challenging the perception that we more than how our body looks – in her words “our bodies are not an ornament, they are vehicles to doing great things”.
Cowards who thought nothing of wishing the most horrible of outcomes for these women and their unborn children, feeling that they had the right to judge these women and their bodies. For Ashey, she reported most of the trolling came from women and for Taryn – from men.
The world is a diverse place, because we are diverse.
Just like snakes, we periodically shed skins because they no longer serve us. Over time our experiences influence how we view the world. And over time our views change. And that is ok. But what is not ok, is making absolute judgements. Because you never know when they just might bite you on the bum.
I don’t believe we need to have Ashy versus Taryn situation. Because competition of this nature does not build us up, it depletes us. We may find that in the future Ashy and her band of followers may have a Taryn epiphany and bring more focus to self acceptance instead of self improvement. And then again, they may not.
But that is not up to us to judge…and perhaps your mother taught you the same as me… If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!
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