Brooke Birmingham, 28, claims that Shape magazine tried to censor her bikini body “after” photo that triumphed her weight loss because of loose skin shown around her stomach.
Birmingham began documenting her weight loss story in 2009, on her blog, Brooke: Not on a Diet. She weighed 327 pounds. She since has shed more than 170 pounds over the past four years by healthy eating and exercise.
The health and fitness magazine reached out last month to showcase the Quad Cities, Illinois resident in their “Success Stories” series, which features before and after images.
After the interview, freelance writer Jessica Girdwain emailed Birmingham to inform her that the editors “were hoping you could send over a different after photo,” even though it isn’t uncommon to see the models and celebrities sporting two-piece bikinis and sports bras on the front cover and across the glossy pages.
One can assume that the magazine did now want to feature the image of a woman with extra skin, which is very common after losing a lot of weight, because it isn’t the industry standard of what fit bodies’ look like.
After the blogger inquired why exactly was she asked to put a shirt on, where she was told it was editorial policy that these specific stories feature fully-clothed people—even though if you look on their website, you will see women in bikinis.
Birmingham decided to unauthorize the use of her story for the magazine and instead, her story went viral across the web. “I am making a fuss about this because I feel like the industry is teaching us to be ashamed of our bodies, even when we’ve done amazing things,” she wrote in a response email to the writer.
“If I couldn’t have the picture of me in my bikini to go along with my story, then it wasn’t MY story,” she wrote on her blog. “The story I wanted to tell and shout out to the world, not their ideal story. So, if I couldn’t tell it my way, then they weren’t going to be able to tell it at all.”
Refusing to put a shirt on showcases not only how brave this blogger is, but also how beautiful (she is inside and out) our bodies are no matter what size or shape. Instead of focusing on picture perfect Photoshopped body images, we should instead applaud our health accomplishments at every size. This is what real people’s bodies look like. These are real fitness stories.
It looks like Birmingham got her success story after all.
This is the second time the magazine has been hit with negative press. In March, a cancer survivor found out that an image of her running in a self-made tutu was made fun of and called “lame” by a staff writer. After this story went viral, editor-in-chief, Lucy Danziger issued an apology.
Do you read Shape magazine, and will you continue to? Do you agree with Brooke’s decision to keep her shirt off and show her amazing weight loss to the world? Comments are always welcome!