When Brooke Birmingham, the blogger behind Brooke: Not On A Diet, was approached by Shape magazine to be part of what they referred to as a weight loss “success story," she saw it as an opportunity to “reach people.” Birmingham, who recently lost 172 pounds, has committed herself to spreading positivity and encouraging diverse women to embrace and love their bodies; in accordance with her convictions, Birmingham proudly wore a bikini while modeling for the photograph she later submitted to Shape.
A few days later, Birmingham received an email from the writer requesting that she take another photograph… this one with a shirt on. The blogger, seeing numerous bikini shots on the magazine’s website, was understandably offended; on her blog, she writes, “My body is real, not photoshopped or hidden because I feel like I should be ashamed.” She responded to the reporter with a kind but firm email, asserting, “by refusing to show my body (or forcing me to hid it), Shape is giving women a false look at weight loss.”
The writer of the feature explained that it was magazine policy that all featured models be completely clothed, and with that, Birmingham decided not to be a part of the feature. “I feel like the industry is teaching us to be ashamed of our bodies, even when we’ve done amazing things […] because of this, I am going to have to kindly decline to be featured on Shape online.” The writer requested that she reconsider, promising that the exposure would be good for her career. Birmingham stood her ground, explaining, “If I couldn’t have the picture of me in my bikini to go along with my story, then it wasn’t MY story. The story I wanted to tell and shout out to the world, not their ideal story.”
From Shape Online
Birmingham’s actions and writing hope to take the shame and judgment out of the way we view human bodies. The honesty of her self expression refuses to pander to oppressive restrictions of a backwards and disturbing weight-loss industry; “This is a body after losing 172 pounds, a body that has done amazing things, and looks AMAZING in a freaking bikini,” she writes.
Shape has since responded to Brimingham’s blog entry on the incident, suggesting that it was the “result of a misunderstanding with a freelance writer.” The magazine states that it is in no way their policy that women must appear fully clothed, and that they would have loved to run Brooke’s story… with her photograph.
Sometimes, it seems as though our bodies are deemed unacceptable or unattractive for the most arbitrary of reasons; women are told daily that we’re too big, too small, too imperfect. It’s time that stopped, and we applaud Brooke Birmingham for staying true to her beautiful and brave self.
Images via Buzzfeed