A student has claimed she was left at ‘rock bottom’ after body positivity campaigner Taryn Brumfitt ‘sexualised’ and ‘skinny-shamed’ her over a modelling shoot she did as a 16-year-old.
Rhiannon van Zuydam, now 21, from Adelaide says she was ‘happy and healthy’ when she posed as a surfer for a newspaper in 2018.
She wore a swimsuit and posed with a surfboard and said she had been delighted by the opportunity.
However, her photos caught the attention of the newly crowned Australian of the Year Ms Brumfitt, who posted it to her Body Image Movement social media accounts.
‘Pensive. Sad. Sultry. Sexual. Confused. That’s how I would describe the model in these images, NOT a ‘Surfer …’ the post read.
Rhiannon van Zuydam, now 21, from Adelaide says she was ‘happy and healthy’ when she posed as a surfer for a newspaper in 2018
Her photos caught the attention of the newly crowned Australian of the Year Taryn Brumfitt, who posted it to her Body Image Movement social media accounts
Ms van Zuydam said the campaigner’s followers piled onto her with cruel trolling following the post.
‘The people in the comments were saying I was so skinny, someone said, ‘Get that girl a burger, her parents must be starving her’, or, ‘Oh she looks so miserable’,’ she told The Advertiser.
She added that the negative responses to the post shattered her self-confidence and pushed her into depression.
‘I was only 16 at the time, of course I’m going to be skinny – I was training three to four hours a day and eating like a bloody horse, I’d come back for thirds of dinner and things like that.
‘The fact she used words that sexualised me was also a very confronting thing at the time.
‘I was really shut down, I didn’t feel comfortable expressing myself. It took me years to become comfortable in my own skin. That post pushed me back to rock bottom again.’
Ms van Zuydam said the campaigner’s followers piled onto her following her social media post
She added that the negative responses to the post shattered her self-confidence and pushed her into depression
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Ms Brumfitt for comment.
On Thursday, she told The Advertiser that she had shared the post to call out the fashion industry for its portrayal of young women.
‘I voiced my opinion about these images as a plea for fashion editors, magazines and the general media to do a better job when it comes to how we portray and, at times, objectify girls and young women in advertising,’ Ms Brumfitt said.
‘I was devastated by the disgraceful, hurtful and derogatory words that followed my online post. I have never and will never condone this type of online behaviour.’
Ms Brumfitt later removed the posts from Facebook and Instagram but is not believed to have offered an apology.
The post is still available on Body Image Movement’s Twitter account.
Rhiannon’s mother, Sharyn van Zuydam, contacted her before the post was removed.
‘Hope you are feeling wonderful about taking something special that was celebrated and turning it into a horrible situation,’ Sharyn told Ms Brumfitt.
Speaking later, she said she hoped Ms Bumfitt had learned from the situation.
‘Taryn was out there promoting body image, but if you didn’t fit her idea of what that was – we found it did the opposite of what she was trying to achieve,’ Sharyn said.
Ms Brumfitt (pictured Prime Minister Anthony Albanese) with was announced as the Australian of the Year
‘It seemed hypocritical, from someone who was supposedly promoting body image acceptance.’
It is the latest controversy to dog the Australian of the Year.
Two days ago, it was revealed that Ms Brumfitt may have inadvertently caught the eye of the ACCC after appearing to endorse a number of products on Instagram without a disclaimer she was paid to do it.
She has made several posts over the past few years gushing about food, fashion and cars to her Instagram page ‘bodyimagemovement’.
San Remo Pasta, Modibodi underwear and a Mazda dealership are among the companies and products peddled on her social media account.
Some posts include disclaimers of a paid partnership with the companies while others appear to be missing them.
Influencers are required, at minimum, to end posts with #ad or #sponsored or add a kicker at the top that explains it is a paid partnership.
Ms Brumfitt an activist, writer, director and public speaker on a decade-long mission to change how we perceive ourselves.
In 2016 she produced a smash hit documentary called Embrace – which won her international acclaim.
She was crowned the Australian of the Year at a glittering ceremony in Canberra in January.
The Body Image Movement, which she founded in 2012, teaches people – young women in particular – to love and appreciate their bodies and has taken her to a global audience from her humble hometown of Adelaide.
‘Every little girl should grow up seeing her mother naked’
Former bodybuilder Taryn Brumfitt regularly walks around her home naked
Australian of the Year Taryn Brumfitt has revealed how she regularly walks around naked in front of her two sons – Oliver, 11, and Cruz, 9 – and daughter Mikaela, 8.
The former bodybuilder turned activist believes it’s vital for them to know how a woman’s body changes with age and insists they are all comfortable with her nudity.
‘It’s something I do mainly for my daughter’s benefit,’ she says.
‘I know that, as a girl, it’s especially important she sees me unclothed — it facilitates an ongoing dialogue between us about the female body, and the way it changes throughout the course of a woman’s life.
‘In fact, I believe that every little girl should grow up seeing her mother naked on a regular basis.’