Model Behavior

Model Bridget Malcolm Opens Up About Finally Learning To Love Her Changing Body

"I am setting myself free slowly."

Model Behavior is a series highlighting fashion models promoting body positivity, and working to create inclusivity and diversity within the industry by expanding our definition of conventional beauty.

"This post has been a long time coming," famed model Bridget Malcolm begins in an essay on her blog. "It makes me nervous because in writing this, I am letting a whole part of myself fall away; in cutting out an aspect of identity there is left negative space."

Malcolm, who's modeled for major brands and publications like Victoria's Secret, David Jones, Vogue, and Cosmopolitan, recently opened up about her road to body acceptance. She tells A Plus in an email that after having conversations with her friends about the pressures they've faced as women, and realizing how much time and energy she dedicated to making herself "as small as possible," she finally decided enough was enough. 

"I am sick of the self-hate," she tells A Plus. "Finally, after 12 years of being told to lose weight, I snapped and decided that if there isn't a place for me in the industry after all this, then I don't want to be there. I really hope there is still though — I feel the times are changing and I do love my job!"

In her blog post, Malcolm writes that her road to body acceptance has been a long one, but she started by throwing out her scales and measuring tapes. She tossed the clothes that fit her at her smallest, deleted gym selfies from Instagram, and photos meant to observe her changing body's "progress."

"Basically, I wanted no point of reference anymore of a time when I was smaller, or larger. I just wanted to stop looking in mirrors and telling myself that I was 'too fat,' and 'not doing enough,'" Malcolm writes. "Easy to say, insanely hard to do. I was attempting to undo 12 years of being told to lose weight and 'tone up.' "

And this is something that Malcolm hasn't faced alone — too often, models report that they've been asked to lose weight or change their bodies in order to land a particular job. In February of last year, over 60 models signed a letter to the American fashion industry and petitioned to "prioritize health and celebrate diversity on the runway." Names included Sara Ziff and Iskra Lawrence.  

So, Malcolm writes that she started choosing foods based on health and stopped skipping meals or restricting herself. She stopped dieting and deeming foods "bad" or "good." She made working out something that would make her "stronger, not something to diminish me."

"I was going to give my brain and body a chance to exist on the same page for once," she says. But it wasn't easy. "They did not want to."

But then someone Malcolm's worked with on set, who has known her through various stages of adulthood, called her out: "I was making excuses and trying to say that I will work harder and the next time he saw me I would be smaller. He looked at me, and said, 'You realize that everything you say, you become? In life we have the ego path, the easy, shady path, and the right, harder, harsher way.' It stopped me in my tracks. It makes sense, and I had heard it said before (and believed it cognitively), but at that point in time I was finally completely ready to hear it."

"From that point on, I said no to anything negative and body related," Malcolm writes, adding that she would shut down "body talk" with friends. She turned to books instead of mirrors, ordered what she wanted for meals, and learned how to eat appropriately for her body. 

"The sheer volume of time I spent worrying about my size saddens me," Malcolm tells A Plus. "When I started to eat and be happy, my life opened up, and everything I had to offer outside of my looks expanded hugely. That is why it is important to empower [others]. The free brain space that comes out of this is astounding."

In her blog post, Malcolm concludes: "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."

Since sharing her story, Malcolm tells A Plus that she's received positive feedback and messages from others in the fashion industry, too. 

"I have had so many models message me saying 'thank god!' and thanking me for sharing my story. Along with women all over. This is not an isolated issue, it affects all women (and men, but differently) and needs to be addressed," she says. 

And on Instagram, people have been sharing their kind words too:

"Amazing journey! I can't wait to read more.. thank you for sharing and helping everyone get through our own issues!" writes one commenter.

Finally, Malcolm tells us that she hopes her blog post will inspire women to stop tolerating negativity directed towards their bodies. "If you are happy, healthy, and active, you are enough. There should be no more pressure to get as small as possible."

And for those who are also on a journey towards body acceptance, but perhaps need a little motivation, Malcolm says, "At the end of the day, this is a choice. It is so much easier to buy into everyone else's story about you, but the pay off, in the long run, is not worth it."

"You have to make the decision every single day to be nice to yourself. Because you are 100 percent worth your place in this world. You owe it to the planet to devote your energy to a full life, not one ruled by other people!"

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