Body image advocate Taryn Brumfitt, who was announced as Australian of the Year this week, has gone in to bat for Jelena Dokic after the Aussie tennis hero was targeted by body-shamers at the Australian Open. Dokic took to social media this week to call out 'evil' and 'vile' trolls who had been commenting on her weight throughout the grand slam at Melbourne Park.
Dokic received a number of vile comments after a playful post-match interview with Serbian star Novak Djokovic went viral around the world. "The body-shaming in the last 24 hours has been insane. The body-shaming coming out of Serbia has been particularly bad as well as the last picture in my post confirms," she wrote alongside screenshots of a number of messages directed at her.
'TAKE IT OFF': Victoria Azarenka ordered to remove shirt in bizarre scenes
"Disgusting. People should be so ashamed. The most common being 'what happened to her, she is so big?'"
"I will tell you what happened, I am finding a way and surviving and fighting. And it really doesn't matter what I am doing and what happened because size shouldn't matter. Kindness and being a good person matters, which those of that abuse me and others, are clearly not...Weight will change, but evil people will remain evil."
Dokic's post came after she'd earlier called out another troll over a horrific comment referencing her battle with mental health issues. Last year Dokic opened up on her battle and revealed she nearly took her own life. She revealed last week that a troll had written in Serbian: "Now that the Australian Open is starting will Jelena Dokic try to kill herself like she does every year."
On Thursday, Brumfitt spoke out against body-shaming and defended Dokic. She said on The Project on Channel 10: “Bullying is never okay and I think we need to call it out. I think we are getting better in this country at doing that.
“Good on her for the way she responded and I will give her a call this week to have that conversation. I know how it feels to be trolled and how it feels to have those naysayers but if we keep leading with light and love there‘s nothing more powerful than that.”
Taryn Brumfitt wants to change perceptions around body image
After being named Australian of the Year, Brumfitt said she plans to spend the next 12 months teaching children to appreciate the skin they are in. The writer and documentary maker said she wants to try and change the way people think about the way they look.
"We need to get this right for every Australian, especially our children," she said. "The time is now to have a national conversation about how we feel about our bodies, because it's not our life's purpose to be at war with it."
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese commended Brumfitt on her work leading the Body Image Movement and took aim at social media 'cowards'. He said: "Someone who I'm very close to, who indicated to me that when they were young, when they were a teenager, they ended up in the children's hospital due to an eating disorder.
"Someone who was bullied on the basis of their body and their shape and that had a real impact. There are cowards who hide behind social media anonymity, prepared to make judgements. There's so much pressure on people with unrealistic expectations as well. Taryn's message, which is very clear, is just love who you are and love your body, is a message for everyone."
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.