A 28-year-old health and fitness blogger was contacted by a major fitness magazine to do a feature on her amazing 172-pound weight loss, but when she gave them pictures of herself in a bikini, they asked that she cover up her belly. Now, the woman is fighting back.
Illinois resident Brooke Birmingham had been chronicling her 172-pound weight loss journey on her blog called “Brooke: Not On A Diet.” In four years, Birmingham lost the massive amount of weight and went on to inspire loads of other people all over the world to get healthy and fit. Birmingham was even featured on the cover of Woman’s Day magazine back in January and told her inspirational story.
When Shape Magazine reached out to Birmingham to do a feature on her story, she was more than excited take part, but when she submitted her before and after pictures on their website, she got a surprising response.
The popular fitness magazine wanted her to “put a shirt on” rather than wear a bikini, like she was in the after picture she sent to them. Birmingham says she was confused by the response because Shape is known for featuring pictures of women in bikinis after losing weight.
Birmingham went back and forth in emails with a Shape employee, questioning why they wanted her to put a shirt on and not others. Shape claimed that it was their policy to have people fully clothed, but Birmingham again pointed out that others in past issues are shown in bikinis or sports bras. Still, the magazine refused to understand, apologizing for insulting her, but insisting it was their policy. In the end, Birmingham turned down the offer from the major magazine.
“A few hours later I received a phone call from the woman who interviewed me. She explained that she was just the ‘in-between’ person between Shape and I, and that she had not meant to offend me in any way,” said Birmingham on her blog. “She then went on to say that this had nothing to do with me and not wanting to celebrate women’s bodies. That they had just stated it was their policy now to include fully clothed photos for the feature. She then asked me to reconsider my choice to no longer be featured, that my story is great and I would get a lot of exposure from it. I told her that the exposure wasn’t worth it to me, that I’m an honest person and I didn’t feel like the story was letting me be honest if I couldn’t share that photo. I told her that if their policy was to have fully clothed people, then they needed to do that with the rest of the site as well. She said she understood and that was that.”
Birmingham says she’s now bringing her story to light because she wants women to know that they don’t have to be ashamed of their bodies or try to live up to specific standards.
“I love sharing my story with people, but I want it to be my story," said Birmingham to Yahoo Shine after posting her bikini on her blog. "I don't write my blog for attention; I write it to help and inspire others."
Shape released a statement in response to the overwhelming criticism they received, and in it, they claim that the writer Birmingham was initially corresponding with had given her incorrect information.
“This is a result of a misunderstanding with a freelance writer," said a Shape Magazine representative in a statement. "This does not represent Shape’s editorial values, and the comments made about Shape’s 'editorial policy' are absolutely untrue. Shape prides itself on empowering and celebrating women like Brooke, and any indication that we would not run the piece with the photo provided was wrong, as we would have been proud to share her inspirational story."