Brutal reaction to 2023 Australian of the Year Taryn Brumfitt


Australian commentator Mike Carlton has sparked outrage after posting several inflammatory tweets about new Australian of the Year and body positivity advocate Taryn Brumfitt.

On Wednesday night, Carlton shared a news article about Ms Brumfitt’s honour, with the simple but scathing caption “Who???”

He followed it up shortly after with a more in-depth explanation of why he objected to Ms Brumfitt receiving the accolade.

“My Australian of the Year would be a doctor or nurse working nights in intensive care or the ED, dealing with Covid and daily death. Real, compassionate work. For very little money,” he tweeted.

“NOT someone who makes a buck out of saying it’s OK to be a bit fat. Good night.”

Fellow reporter Paul Bongiorno supported Carlton’s stance, tweeting “indeed” in response.

However, his comments were met with a wave of backlash, with social media users lashing his “belittling”, “disgusting” and “inflammatory” words.

Prominent reporter Andrew P Street was one of countless Aussies to jump to Ms Brumfitt’s defence and point out her crucial work.

“I take your point about health workers, but eating disorders are a huge and underreported health issue and your take both misrepresents and diminishes Taryn Brumfitt’s work and the importance of what she does, especially (but not exclusively) for young women,” he wrote.

Another journalist, Catherine Marshall, posted that “Fat-shaming is going to be the least of Brumfitt’s worries this year. She certainly has her work cut out for her – let’s hope the men (and it’s mainly men) of Twitter listen, learn and pledge to do better”.

And media adviser Jacqui Street also weighed in, writing “Wow. You have clearly never dealt with body image issues that are debilitating for so many. Enormous industries built up on making people feel shit about themselves, destroying themselves in pursuit of an impossible ideal. She speaks truth to a different power”.

The backlash became so intense that Carlton eventually began blocking people who objected to his comments, posting on Thursday morning that he “Must have blocked around sixty morons of one sort or another in the last 24 hours. But it’s a sunny day and I have better things to do”.

Ms Brumfitt, a 45-year-old former bodybuilder and mother of four, gained international fame after sharing a “before and after” shot of herself which showed her carrying more weight in her “after” photo.

The twist on the “before and after photos” went viral, and kicked off her body positivity campaign, which has gained worldwide attention.

She is about to release a third documentary on the crucial topic and has also collaborated with body image expert Dr Zali Yager to create an Embrace Kids companion parenting book.

Together the pair have also created the Embrace Hub – a free, research-based resource for teachers, parents, children and communities on fostering body positivity.

Ms Brumfitt shared an inspiring message as she accepted her award on Wednesday night.

“There is so much despair in this nation for children and adults when it comes to what we think and how we feel about our bodies,” she said.

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

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

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

“And 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.”

In recent years, Mission Australia’s annual National Youth survey has consistently found body image to be among the top concerns troubling young people, with the Butterfly Foundation CEO Kevin Barrow previously stating that there are “serious health ramifications if we do not challenge fundamental belief structures that are translating into nationwide body shape and size stigma”.

“Poor body image can contribute to impaired mental and physical health, lower social functionality and poor lifestyle choices. We need to acknowledge the complexity of the problem and each play our part as individuals, it is more than achievable,” he said.

“We also need to pay equal attention to the increase in concerns for young people when it comes to their mental health.

“People who are dissatisfied with their body image are at higher risk of developing serious mental illness including eating disorders.”



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