Brooke Birmingham refused to put a shirt on for Shape magazine -- and now she won't have to.
Birmingham, who lost 172 pounds over four years, chronicled her weight loss journey on her healthy living blog, "Brooke: Not On A Diet." In early May, a representative from Shape magazine reached out to her about featuring her success story on the publication's website -- but things went south when the magazine allegedly refused to post an image of Birmingham in a bikini top, citing an editorial policy.
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Birmingham took to her blog to voice her frustration and disappointment at Shape's decision. "If anything, they should want my picture on their site," she wrote. "My body is real, not photoshopped or hidden because I feel like I should be ashamed. This is a body after losing 172 pounds, a body that has done amazing things, and looks AMAZING in a freaking bikini."
The story went viral, and Birmingham was invited to share her story on "Good Morning America," "HLN" and "The Today Show" in Australia. Representatives for Shape magazine claimed that the editorial policy requiring Birmingham to wear a shirt does not exist, and that the whole situation stemmed from a misunderstanding on the part of a freelance writer.
"I never thought that when I posted about me deciding to pull out from a story with Shape that it would go completely viral on the internet," Birmingham wrote in a May 12 blog post. "I just felt like I owed my readers an explanation and wanted to start a conversation."
Birmingham's mission to have her body accepted was finally accomplished when she appeared with Shape editor Bahar Takhtehchian on "The Today Show" on May 9 -- and Takhtehchian revealed that Birmingham and five other "real" women will be featured in the print magazine, with nothing to hide.
“We want to start a larger discussion about what happens after you lose a significant amount of weight,” Takhtehchian said. “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.”
In her most recent blog post, Birmingham reports being pleased with Shape's decision, and writes that she and looks forward to inspiring other women:
When I posted the blog post, I wanted a conversation to happen and wanted to spark a change in magazines today. That is exactly what happened. I’m excited to now be working with Shape to feature women who have gone through an extreme weight loss and showing their readers what can happen not only physically, but also mentally when doing just that.
We're thrilled that Brooke stood her ground, and that Shape magazine is committing to presenting women's bodies just as they are -- no cover-ups required.