Brooke Birmingham Shares Bikini Photo of 172-Pound Weight Loss

A 28-year-old Illinois woman has an amazing weight loss story — and Shape magazine refuses to tell it with honesty.

Brooke Birmingham, the blogger at Brooke: Not on a Diet, says the fitness mag is hiding the realities of extreme weight loss by asking her to cover up.


Over the past four years, Brooke has shed more than 170 pounds. And she’s managed to keep it off for the past year.

So that’s an inspirational story worth telling, right!?

Shape magazine thought so and contacted her to be a part of its “Success Stories” — a series that chronicles weight loss stories.

But when Brooke submitted the following “after” photo of herself in a bikini, the mag insisted she send in another shot of herself covered up in a T-shirt.


Admitting she was “furious” at this request, Brooke sent off the following email to Shape:

“I would like to know why your editors are asking for a photo of me with my shirt on. It is my understanding that Shape is known for posting photos of women in bikinis or even sports bras. This is my body after massive weight loss and by refusing to show my body (or forcing me to hide it), Shape is giving women a false look at weight loss.”

The Shape writer replied: “lt’s just their editorial to be fully clothed, simple as that.”

So Brooke refused to tell her story to Shape — without the “after” photo, her story is incomplete.

“My body is real, not photoshopped or hidden because I feel like I should be ashamed,” she says. “This is a body after losing 172 pounds, a body that has done amazing things, and looks AMAZING in a freaking bikini.”

“This is the type of body they should have featured because it can give people hope. Hope that they can lose weight healthfully and even if they don’t end up with airbrushed abs of steel, they’re gorgeous and shouldn’t be ashamed of whatever imperfection they believe they have.”

She goes on to talk about the unrealistic images of the “ideal body” that are forced on women in today’s society.

“Women today are exposed SO MUCH to what society sees as the ideal body,” she says. “The perfect hourglass shape with no arm flab, a thigh gap, full lips, perfect breasts, and a flat tummy. We believe from the time we are little girls that to be beautiful we must have these things. If we’re not the ideal beautiful, then we should be ashamed and not feel like we are good enough.”

“I spent MANY years hating and hiding a body I was ashamed of because it wasn’t society’s ideal of beautiful. Being asked to send a photo of myself with a shirt on made me feel like I again should be ashamed of my body. That since I have the loose skin, I shouldn’t be in a bikini.”

So what does Shape have to say? The mag says it’s all been a big misunderstanding.

“This is a result of a misunderstanding with a freelance writer,” Shape says in a statement. “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.​”

Three cheers to Brooke for (a) being brave enough to share her “after” photo and showing the world what 170-pound weight loss actually looks like, and (b) standing up for herself — and women everywhere.

It’s one thing to lose those last 10-20 pounds to get toned for bikini season. But extreme weight loss often leaves the body with loose skin, stretch marks, and many other signs that the body has gone through a huge transformation. Brooke’s story shares that reality with pride, not shame.

Here’s hoping Brooke’s story will inspire many more people than Shape ever could.

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