Here’s A Woman Who’s Determined To Show The Reality Of Losing Weight

Brooke Birmingham's image of her bikini body post extreme weight loss has caused an extreme reaction


by Zing Tsjeng |
Published on

Lifestyle blogger Brooke Birmingham was pleased when Shape magazine contacted her to be featured as a 'success story' in their weight loss column. For the last four years, the 28-year-old had blogged about her journey to a healthy weight, which eventually saw her drop 170 pounds. Shape requested before and after photos, and Brooke sent in this picture of herself in a two-piece swimsuit.

A few days later, the writer contacted Brooke again, asking if she could send over a different ‘after’ photo. 'They are looking to include one with a shirt,' the email reads. The only thing that differentiated Brooke from the bikini-clad women in other Shape success stories was the loose skin around her stomach – a common side effect of extreme weight loss.

Brooke was understandably furious. She fired off an email to the writer. 'This is my body after massive weight loss and by refusing to show me (or forcing me to hide it), Shape is giving women a false look at weight loss.'

The Shape writer explained that it was the magazine’s new 'editorial policy' that their reader profiles were fully-clothed. After a few more emails, Birmingham decided to turn down the profile – but she posted her correspondence with Shape on her blog as a way to vent her frustration.

'If anything, they should want my picture on their site,' she wrote. 'My body is real, not Photoshopped or hidden because I feel like I should be ashamed. This is a body after losing 172 pounds, a body that has done amazing things, and looks AMAZING in a freaking bikini.'

Birmingham’s post is now lighting up the internet, with over 400 comments on her blog alone – she’s even appearing on Good Morning America. It’s also inspired other women to post pictures of their own 'imperfect' bikini bodies in solidarity.

Shape now claims that Birmingham’s ordeal was the result of a 'misunderstanding' on the part of their freelance writer. Whether or not that’s true, the real story here isn’t that a fitness magazine was dictating what kind of healthy body was and wasn’t acceptable for its viewers. Brooke’s calling out a wider double standard in society about fitness and health.

Who hasn’t read about celebrity juice cleansesor attempted get-fit-quick regimes like Insanity? Or hate-watched an episode of The Biggest Loser? Society glamourises extreme weight loss without embracing the actual reality: loose skin, stretch marks and all. We might tell ourselves that being fit is its own reward – but admit it, we still associate health with a slim, toned and conventionally attractive body.

So what happens when you shed the weight and you’re not left with the body of Naomi Campbell? You blame yourself. You fall off the exercise wagon, so your fitness suffers. But real health doesn’t look like the women on TV reality shows or the runway. It looks more like Brooke Birmingham. Think about that the next time you feel bad about your stretch marks.

Follow Zing on Twitter @misszing

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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