The modelling industry can be a sinister, soul-sucking place, but the internet is helping shed light on the outrageous requests models face. There are Insta accounts and model-run blogs and websites that give a voice to the perfect looking faces us average folks stack ourselves up against on the daily.
Former Victoria Secret angel Bridget Malcolm, 26, is the latest talent to take action, sharing some of the horrors of working as a model in the fashion industry. In a blog post published to her official website on March 19, the Australian-native opens up about being body-shamed during a bikini photo shoot. It was an event that the young woman categorizes as the third worst thing that has ever happened to her — the first two being sexual assault.
Malcolm says the casting agent for the unnamed bikini brand that hired her had seen an old digital photo from when she had 33-inch hips. While Malcolm no longer had 33-inch hips, she was still a size four, which meant she fit the sample sizes.
When the Australian beauty showed up to set, ready for work, things turned from awkward to cruel, fast.
“Whilst shooting, I had one lady refuse to look me in the eye, choosing instead to address my stomach with a sneer. I addressed her, smiled, and she didn’t even look away from my stomach, let alone respond to me beyond mono syllables,” Malcolm writes. “Another lady asked me to please make my ribs show more whilst shooting, suck in my gut, and tied a sarong around my hips, to ‘hide them.’ I got a high school level bitchy up and down when I came out of the changing room, and another woman just didn’t even register my presence.”
It’s hard to imagine what it would feel like to arrive to work, meet a group of strangers and then have your appearance scrutinized by them for hours. If a size four — FOUR! — Vic Sec model can be body shamed, then it feels like nobody is safe.
“They had a false idea about what I looked like – something that could have easily been avoided,” Malcolm continues, noting the importance of a client seeing up-to-date images of the models they plan to book.
But this goes beyond client expectations. No one should be degraded or treated like a lesser human when showing up to a job or anywhere. Malcolm is the first to admit that if she wasn’t what the casting agent had wanted, they should have just politely sent her home, rather than making her feel “humiliated, fat and ugly.”
The model has had time to reflect since the incident first took place, and has a message for her peers involved:
“To the ladies on set that day, I say I hope you find your peace here. I don’t know how hard it must be to exist in a world where you treat another young woman as badly as you treated me. You must be in so much pain. The pain must be strong enough to make you look at a twenty something young woman, who is fit and healthy, and set out to make her feel fat and useless. It truly must be awful to exist in a state of constant cognitive dissonance. I hope you find your peace. And I thank you. You helped to set me on the road to mine.”
This photo was taken a few days before my first anxiety attack, and a few months before the story told in my blog post today. I was terrified I was gaining weight in this picture. I thought my arms were fat. But it was that first anxiety attack that woke me up, and forced me to start my journey towards health. Out of the problem precipitates the solution. The story today (link in bio) set me back a couple of months in my recovery. I truly hope that the women involved in my story find their peace. I can’t imagine how much pain you must be in to set out to hurt and shame another young person like that. You never know the story behind someone’s eyes. So we should always love and respect. #idictatemyroad