An Illinois woman who lost more than 170 pounds through self-dieting says she was denied the opportunity to appear in a fitness magazine because of how her stomach looked. Brooke Birmingham, 28, from Quad Cities, chronicled her epic journey on a blog, Brooke: Not On A Diet, over the four and a half years it took her to slim down. The blog came to the attention of Shape magazine, who wanted to feature Birmingham as part of their Success Stories series. But when she sent in her ‘after’ photo, in which she was wearing a bikini, Birmingham said the image was rejected by the writer handling the feature.
A Shape magazine representative reached out about doing a “success story” profile on Birmingham to be featured on Shape.com. Birmingham agreed, and provided the photo above to be used in the feature. The Shape writer handling the story thanked her for the photograph, and called Birmingham for an interview; everything seemed fine.
A few days later, she received this email from the writer.
Birmingham was pretty upset at the request to send a covered up photo
She was told to submit a different photo of herself covered up in a t-shirt because it was ‘policy’. Offended, Birmingham asked for a more elaborate explanation, for which she was told it was Shape’s ‘editorial to be fully clothed, simple as that’. However plenty of other Success Story subjects have appeared in the magazine wearing bikinis, according to E! Online.
“I love sharing my story with people, but I want it to be my story,” Birmingham tells Yahoo Shine about her decision to post her original after photo on her blog. “I don’t write my blog for attention; I write it to help and inspire others.”
Birmingham says she didn’t plan to divulge what had happened between her and Shape, but because she’d already alerted friends and Facebook fans to the fact her story was going to be featured on the magazine’s website, people began to ask why it hadn’t been published yet.
A representative from Shape disagrees with Birmingham’s account of what happened. “This is a result of a misunderstanding with a freelance writer,” a spokesperson for the magazine said via an email statement to Yahoo Shine. “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.”
Birmingham says she isn’t looking for an apology from Shape, or an opportunity to appear in the magazine. Instead, she hopes that photos like hers can change the way that our culture talks about weight loss and women’s bodies.
“Am I expecting a response from Shape? No. They’re a business. They have reasons for what they do. But I don’t agree with it,” she says. “Everybody has a right to wear what they want to wear, and if they think they look good that’s all that matters.”