Many people assume that Victoria's Secret Angels live charmed lives. But behind the scenes, these women face intense pressure to look a certain way in order to fit the brand's standards.
One former angel, Bridget Malcom, has opened up about this pressure in an intimate blog post about her "road to body acceptance." The 26-year-old model wrote that she threw out her scales, measuring tape, and too-small clothes last summer in an attempt to "make peace" with her body image.
"I deleted all the gym selfies from my Instagram, and all of the 'progress' shots from my phone," Malcom wrote. "Basically, I wanted no point of reference any more 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.'"
In the post, Malcom details her quest to unlearn 12 years of "being told to lose weight and 'tone up'" while working as a model. She chose to eat intuitively instead of constant dieting and refused to engage in negative body talk.
"I looked at my life, and I realized through obsessing over my body I was selecting the easy path. I was choosing to focus on externality, and ignoring the larger picture. I was choosing the ego path," she wrote. "Because the fact is, life is way too short to be focused on the exterior. Time spent worrying about your size is time wasted. There are far bigger fish to fry in the world than your thigh size. There are so many better uses for your brain."
Although her post describes a difficult and treacherous journey, Malcom says she is "much freer now" having embraced body positivity — even though she has gained weight, which is often highly criticized in the fashion industry.
"I have gained weight. And I do not give a f--- about it," she wrote. "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."
The blog post was followed by a throwback Instagram of Malcom in a bathing suit. In the caption, Malcom described the self-deprecating thoughts that plagued her when the photo was taken.
"This girl is not fat," she wrote. "I remember around when this photo was taken, I had been told that I needed to lose weight. Not for the first time and not for the last time. Always fun trying to act like you're confident and happy in swimwear when you're at war with your body."
Malcom is no stranger to all forms of body-shaming, whether from herself or from others. In 2015, after walking in her first Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, she was criticized for being too skinny and even labeled anorexic.
At the time, she also used Instagram as a platform to implore people to "change the conversation" about body shapes in the modeling industry.
"I may not be the curviest but I am a woman who has every right to look the way I do," she captioned a sports bra selfie. "Maybe today take a look inside yourself and wonder why you feel the need to shame strangers over the Internet about their bodies."
"[As a model,] normally you are a face of something and no one knows the person behind the picture," she said. "But with social media you really have the chance to be an actual role model."
It's great to see Malcom still embracing her voice and using it to encourage others to be kind to themselves — both mentally and physically.
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