Woman Battles Alleged Body Shaming For Excess Skin

By ABC News

May 8, 2014 10:44am

One woman says a magazine made her feel like she should be ashamed of her brand new body.

Brook Birmingham’s 170-pound weight loss was so dramatic it caught the attention of Shape magazine, which wanted to feature her success story after coming across her blog brooknotonadiet.com where she began chronicling her weight loss journey.

“I emailed them back saying I was interested in doing the interview because I would love to share my story with people,” Birmingham, 29, of Andalusia, Illinois, told ABC News.

But when Birmingham sent them an “after” bikini photo that showed excess skin around her midsection, she says Shape magazine asked her to cover up citing “editorial” policy.

“I did not feel they were showing my body respect,” she explained.

Birmingham refused, saying the photo showed the real side of extreme weight loss and that the challenges don’t end after the “after” photo.

“People need to see what a body looks like after a massive weight loss,” Birmingham said.

In a statement released to ABC News, Shape magazine says, “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.​”

Even natural, gradual weight loss can leave extra skin that, in some cases, can only be fixed with surgery.

“While you will be incredibly fit, so much lighter, you might be left with some loose skin,” Chris Powell, host of “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition,” explained.

Powell’s show offers their participants this surgery after meeting a key milestone, but he also says the excess skin’s presence should be considered a mark of accomplishment.

“When we see that excess skin, it is really a badge of courage showing how strong that individual is,” said Powell.

Birmingham, who now works as a Weight Watchers leader, says that although she was initially hurt by Shape’s request, she feels better knowing that her story might inspire others in a similar position.

“This is what this boils down to, is to feel good in your own skin and knowing that you don’t have to look like the picture of the model on the magazine,” she said.

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