Swimsuit model Bridget Malcolm opens up about how body shaming is rampant in fashion
Malcolm is now on the path to recovery and is hoping that her truth inspires others to shun dieting and weighing-scales.
Behind the dazzle and oomph of ramp walks, lies a sinister truth that everybody knows but chooses to ignore — modeling and body-shaming go hand-in-hand.
But Victoria's Secret model Bridget Malcolm, 26, is one among the few models, to have acknowledged the truth in public, after she wrote about the prejudices that afflict the modeling world, giving insight into the struggles she had encountered pertaining to her size and weight in the glamour biz.
Hypocritical politics of the fashion industry
In her 12-year-long journey in the industry, it is the first time that Australian swimsuit model Bridget Malcolm went all guns blazing against the rampant body-shaming culture that rots the fashion industry from the inside. The stunner told her story in a blog post dated March 19, expressing her discomfiture at about how "women have enough sh*t to put up with" and that they "should be celebrating each other instead of being judged for their size."
She recounted an incident about an unidentified shoot for a client who had seen photos of her when she had 33-inch hips. Malcolm described her bad working experience as she was given a cold-shoulder by many of the crew members on the set, with one woman deftly ignoring her, and another who didn't even acknowledge her presence at all. "Another lady asked me to please make my ribs show more whilst shooting, suck in my gut, and tied a sarong around my hips, to 'hide them,'" she disclosed.
Despite fitting into all of the sample sizes that were available on set (size between 2 and 4), the crew continued with their abhorrent behavior. The deplorable attitude of her colleagues took a toll on Malcolm's attitude towards self, as she revealed how she had been "feeling pretty good" about her body and by lunchtime, she was "hating myself, wishing I was somebody else" so much so that she even refused to eat lunch as she felt "humiliated, fat, and ugly." Although her co-workers did come by to check on her, Malcolm described their concern as "fake."
I wish I’d had the strength to say to them, 'What’s going on? Am I not what you wanted? Because if not, let's not put me and you through this. Just send me home. You don’t want me here, and I don’t want to be here,'" the model wrote. "I wish I had done that instead of struggling through the day, to leave set and burst into tears," she rued.
The incident compelled Malcolm to acknowledge the grim reality— the rampant body-policing culture that exists in the modeling world that compels women to be a certain size. Instead of embracing women of all sizes, there exist innumerable people who will make you feel 'ashamed' of your size.
"There is a massive grey zone in the fashion industry," she noted. "We see ‘straight size’ girls from sizes 0-2 maybe a 4 if the girl is well known or has boobs. Then nothing, until we hit ‘plus size’ girls at around size 14. Never mind the fact that the vast majority of women in the western world fall in this size bracket. Until a woman can open a magazine and see her body shape represented, how can women stop comparing themselves to an impossible standard?" she rued.
The triumph of self-love over body-shaming
But Malcolm learned her lesson and refused to let the negativity take control of herself. Instead, she decided to live a healthy, fit life without falling for unethical standards that affect her line of work.
"In August last year, I made myself a promise," she wrote, "It was time to make peace with my body," Malcolm added further.
"I threw away my scales, my measuring tape, and my body checking. I threw away all my clothes from when I was at my smallest."
Malcolm explained how she had managed to dump the weighing scales, with the aim of letting self-love seep into her life, without letting body size affect how she felt about herself.
She also revealed how she had followed up on her promise by first deleting a series of gym selfies from her Instagram account, which she had used as cornerstones of the 'progress' she was making. "I deleted all the gym selfies from my Instagram, and all of the 'progress' shots from my phone," she explained.
"Basically, I wanted no point of reference any more of a time when I was smaller, or larger," she added.
"I just wanted to stop looking in mirrors and telling myself that I was ‘too fat’, and ‘not doing enough’."
Her post concluded with a note-worthy reminder for self: "I want societal expectations to evaporate. We should be celebrated for our accomplishments, and leave our bodies out of it. No more comments on who lost weight and how. I finally got the memo. Now I want more people out there to feel this liberation."
"I never realized how much time and energy I would spend on dieting. I am much freer now, and it is a fantastic feeling," she further wrote.
"I wish I had discovered it sooner—but late is better than never. I have gained weight. And I do not give a f*** about it. My life is so much more than my jean size."
"And every day when that voice in my head tries to tell me I am worthless, it gets a little easier to shut it down. I am setting myself free slowly."
Malcolm's candid message isn't casting light on a brand new problem—according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the United States. The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) reported how girls start to be worried about their size and weight, at the tender age of six.
Hopefully, Malcolm's experiences open the gate for several other models to speak about the existing problem in quick succession.
If you have any views or stories that you would like to share with us, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org