The Classification Board Restricts EMBRACE Due To “Protruding Labia” and I’m OUTRAGED!

These images are confronting, yes; but the only way they could be harmful is if they continue to be censored.

After 24 months of travelling, filming and editing I am weeks away from releasing Embrace into the world; a documentary I truly believe has the ability to change the way a generation of body haters feel about themselves.

There is a sequence in the film that discusses the fact that women rarely ever see another woman’s vulva, often leading many women to turn to cosmetic surgery to ‘fix’ what they perceive to be an unsightly part of their bodies. This is followed by a section of images in the film that show a range of women’s vulvas, all of which are different and all of which are normal and healthy.


labia library blog post Embrace

I have now found out that the Australian Classification’s Board has given the film an MA 15+ rating purely based on the inclusion of “protruding labia”. I am shocked and outraged that the Board has deemed Embrace unsuitable for under 15 year olds for showing in an educational and informative context the range of ways a woman’s body can look. The whole point of the classification system is to protect minors from being exposed to harmful content, but what exactly is the board protecting them from? This is not rude or crude, this is natural, this is life.

Embrace Classification Rating
The official rating information as decided by the Australian Classification Board – “strong impact” means a M15+ rating.

If the Board really thinks that young teenagers aren’t going to be exposed to nudity before the age of 15, they are being naive. The nudity that many of them will see is not coming from a place of empowerment or education, it’s coming from pornography where body parts are taken to their most extreme form of aesthetic appeal; natural or not.

Where are children and young adults going to get their information from if films like Embrace are censored? This was the reason behind the very conscious decision to include the collection of vulvas in the film. There is already enough body shaming in the world and here’s another dose of it. From billboards to music videos the staple of our image-based culture is the youthful, sexualised female body.

This classification decision means that the film cannot be seen by an audience that should see it most, from doing research for Embrace I know that 70% of girls are dissatisfied with their body and more than 50% of 5-12 year olds want to lose weight. What message does it send to these girls that the part of their bodies that drives so much of the physical changes in their coming years needs to be restricted and hidden for anyone under the age of 15? By all means give Embrace an M rating, this is a guideline for parents and we encourage families to go together but the Board’s decision to give it a rating that comes with legal restrictions means that Embrace and its important message will also be restricted at a time when it is needed most.

What you can do to help?

Get “Invulved!”

1. Take the 30 second “Get Invulved” Survey below

2. Join the Movement – because to create global change we need to stay connected

3. Share the Official Trailer for Embrace – because the trailer will now only be shown in cinemas before films that have a rating of MA15+ or above.



  • Outraged indeed!I think Embrace should be exempt from classification on the grounds that it is an educational film…

    We need to keep campaigning on this and be heard.

    Keep fighting!

  • Kristin

    Wow, how frustrating! Personally I can see both sides. I totally get and appreciate your position on this issue Taryn and yet when I see the photos I have to admit that my initial reaction is shock, then fascination, then appreciation (with a little lingering shock). As a mom though, I have to say that i would have to think twice about taking my young teen aged daughter to see the movie (which I’m DYING TO SEE by the way) knowing that such grown up and intimate images are included in the film. Maybe I’m just a product of my American culture. Maybe it’s different in different countries? I feel like something a little more tame like illustrations vs. real photos could be more palatable to some people groups and yet accomplish the same thing and communicate your very valid point! Thank you so much for making this movie! It is a really important thing you’re doing and I give you props for standing up and telling the truth! Blessings to you!

  • Vaughan Davies

    I imagine the context is reasonable and essential for the full understanding of nnormal physiology. Why make this difficult?

  • Tanya

    Have you tried getting in touch with Margaret Pomeranz? She has very strong views on censorship and would be on your side! If there is an appeals process she could help you. Good luck xx

  • Maire Garvey

    Hi, Taryn,

    I’m a (rather inactive, I’m afraid!) member of your group on FB, and think what you have done and continue to do is nothing short of amazing! For 7 years I ran an event here in Ireland called Dip in the Nip, where people – mainly women – stripped off and ran into the sea for charity. Now, while we raised a lot of money for cancer charities, the biggest impact, for me, was the difference it made to people’s own body perceptions, mens as well as womens, so when I came across the Body Image Movement I was absolutely thrilled to see somebody take it as far as you are doing.

    However, I found myself conflicted when I read the post on FB and came here for further information, which has me still conflicted. Let me explain, and I hope you won’t want to lynch me afterwards!! :-D

    If Embrace were being shown in a school, college, workplace, wherever – I’d say – Go for it!. The message you are putting out there about what womens bodies are REALLY like has become increasingly important in an increasingly sexualised world, and we all have some understanding of the fact that too many of our young people, boys as well as girls, are growing up with a warped idea of what the human body looks like because of the overwhelming availability of online content, most of it sexualised (I would argue that even photographs in mainstream womens magazines are sexualised, but that’s another days work!)

    However, because it’s been shown in movie theatres, I think the context is different, and that needs to be considered. I can only speak from what I would imagine might happen in the classification office here in Ireland, and I reckon it would be the same (or might even be an 18+ cert). If it was an open cert, then that would mean that anybody could go into the cinema, including unaccompanied children and teenagers. While I believe that it is highly unlikely, I would imagine that the classification board had to take the possibility into consideration – i.e. the possibility of children or teenagers seeing it without a responsible adult with them. And while adults will easily understand the context in which the photographs are being shown, that might not be the case with younger people. And the wording of the classification is ‘strong impact’ – not necessarily that it’s harmful – and it is certainly that. It had a strong impact on me, simply because I had never really considered that fact that every woman’s vulva is different to the extent that they are: I, even in my advance middle years, had always somehow assumed that we were all pretty much the same! So even though the impact is a positive one, and not harmful, it is still a very strong statement, it is strong nudity, and where that statement is made has to be considered.

    Maybe you could persuade the board to revise the cert to a PG? I don’t know what the equivalent is in Australia, but here it means Parental Guidance, and it means that anybody under 15 needs an adult with them).

    When it comes time to get the film released in Ireland, please let me know – I’d love to help out any way I can.


  • Lach

    This will eventually be seen more in the home (as VOD, download, dvd etc) where it can be discussed as it plays, not in an old fashioned movie theater where the run may just be for a week. Most would rather spend $15-20 on watching a Hollywood movie.

  • Jodie

    I wanted to take my daughters to see this. I have a 11yr old who is perfect in every way ( I am biased) but, even in primary school, is already having to deal with other girls going through her (and others) lunchboxes telling them “you will get fat eating that”. I am pretty conscious on what I pack in my daughters lunches. So what I am facing now, is my 11 yr old wanting to diet. I have showed her the trailer, and we are keen to see this together with her best friend and her mum.
    Shame on the classification board, let the parents choose if they want their daughters to see this.

    • Taryn Brumfitt

      Hi Jodie, you can take your 11 year old to see the film – the classification just means that you must accompany your daughter at the cinema :-)

  • Debbie Wood

    I certainly think that a PG rating would be reasonable. It should be up to parents for their young teenagers. I think that schools would shy away knowing that it was MA 15+, except for their senior school. With what our children actually have access to via tv and Foxtel, I find this rating a bit hypocritical. Can’t wait to see the first release on Sunday in Adelaide. Well done Taryn.

  • T G

    That is NOT what I would expect to see in a “PG” rated film and I’d be livid if that was shown to my children without some sort of warning. The rating it has warns parents what sort of content the film contains. If parents really want their children to see that then eventually they will. But there is no way that would (or should) be allowed in a PG film… just no.

    • Taryn Brumfitt

      We weren’t expecting a PG rating, we were hoping for an M (unrestricted rating). :-)

  • TG

    I find it odd that my last comment was posted… and then removed. And here you are “outraged” by censorship? Seems a wee bit hypocritical to me.