ANDALUSIA, Illinois (KWQC) – After losing nearly half her body weight, one Illinois woman thought her biggest struggles with weight loss were behind her.
That was until a picture she submitted to a health and fitness magazine was rejected.
Now her attempt to share her “real” self is going viral.
We first met Brooke Birmingham of Andalusia last December when she shared with us her journey of shedding 172 pounds in just a few years. Considered a weight loss success story, the healthy living blogger made it to the January cover of Woman’s Day magazine. So when someone from Shape magazine recently contacted her she happily agreed to be the focus of another feature.
“I sent in my before picture and sent in my after picture which included me in a bikini,” said Birmingham.
The response she got to the post-weight loss picture has many outraged. The magazine instead asked for a photo of her in a T-shirt and when she asked why, Birmingham was told fully-clothed is policy for Shape.
“I emailed her back because I was angry. I didn’t feel I should have to put a shirt on because you get on Shape.com and there’s women in bikinis,” she said.
She decided to pull the interview because, without the picture, she felt her true story wouldn’t be represented.
“I am me. I am proud of who I am. I’ve done something amazing. I’ve never worn a bikini in my life. There’s no reason I can’t wear one now.”
Birmingham says she wrote about the ordeal on her blog because she felt like she needed to explain to her readers why she wouldn’t be appearing in Shape after all. She says the response since has been incredible.
“The comments I’ve gotten have been, ‘I needed to see this picture. I wish I’d see this picture before. I look like this too and it makes me feel not alone,’”
It’s now turned into a viral campaign for “real” bodies. Birmingham feels there are too many misconceptions about major weight loss. She says it’s encouraging to know so many people stand behind her and hopes more will recognize it’s the hard work and determination that really count. She says she’ll continue to bare her body and soul to spread that message.
“It doesn’t matter what your body looks like. If you feel confident and feel beautiful then you should be able to wear what you want to wear,” said Birmingham.
Shape magazine wrote this statement in response to NBC: “This is a result of a misunderstanding with a freelance writer. 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.”