Weight loss blogger wins bikini battle

Last updated 12:23 12/05/2014
Brooke Birmingham

AN INSPIRATION: The bikini shot Brooke Birmingham sent in to Shape magazine to accompany her incredible weight loss story.

Brooke Birmingham
BEFORE: Brooke back in 2009 before she began her weight loss journey.
Brooke Birmingham
AFTER: Five years and 77 kilograms later Brooke is healthier and much happier.

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Brooke Birmingham, a 28-year-old blogger from Chicago in Illinois set the Internet alight last week when she claimed that her bikini-clad 'after' shot following her 77 kilogram weight loss was rejected from Shape magazine for their "success stories" section on their website.

But she has come out victorious, with the magazine deciding to publish her photo after all. 

An editor of Shape, Bahar Takhtehchian, and Birmingham appeared on the Today show in the US over the weekend where Takhtehchian said that the magazine would use the bikini photo, and that they wanted to use the incident as a way of sparking a deeper conversation around significant weight loss and body image.

"We want to start a larger discussion about what happens after you lose a significant amount of weight," Takhtehchian told host Savannah Guthrie. "Because truly, there is a journey after the weight-loss journey, and those are the questions and the issues that we want to talk to Brooke and the other ladies about."

The controversy began after the magazine contacted Birmingham because they wanted to profile her.

The interview went well but when Birmingham sent in pictures of herself at the magazine's request to be used, including one of her in a bikini with some loose skin showing (the result of such a substantial weight loss, and what a body looks like after losing that kind of weight), Birmingham claims that the journalist asked her to send in a fully clothed photo instead as part of Shape magazine's "editorial policy."

It was a request that upset Birmingham, because as she wrote on her blog, she felt like her body wasn't good enough to be shown in the magazine.

Birmingham then published the ensuing emails between her and the journalist as well as her reasons behind taking a stance against Shape magazine on her blog.

"If I couldn't have the picture of me in my bikini to go along with my story, then it wasn't MY story," Birmingham wrote. 

"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."

Following the outrage that followed Birmingham's post, with most of the internet siding with the blogger, Shape then released a statement saying that it had all been a terrible misunderstanding, which as The Gloss points out, seemed a little fishy.

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However, the magazine has obviously seen the error of its ways (and the wrath of the internet) and will publish Birmingham's story, and bikini photo.

It's an important win in the endless battle against body standards for women, and worthy of (another) fist pump Birmingham's way.

As she wrote on her blog when the controversy first began,

"My body is real, not Photoshopped or hidden because I feel like I should be ashamed."

"I spent MANY years hating and hiding a body I was ashamed of because it wasn't society's ideal of beautiful. Being asked to send a photo of myself with a shirt on made me feel like I again should be ashamed of my body. That since I have the loose skin, I shouldn't be in a bikini."

- Daily Life


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