Earlier this year American blogger Brooke Birmingham, 29, set the internet alight when she said a photo of herself in a bikini after losing 77 kilograms was rejected by Shape magazine for a body transformation special.
"If I couldn’t have the picture of me in my bikini to go along with my story, then it wasn’t MY story. The story I wanted to tell and shout out to the world, not their ideal story. So, if I couldn’t tell it my way, then they weren’t going to be able to tell it at all … 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."
Birmingham has now been announced as a Today.com Voice of the Year and has been featured in a series of photos and essays, for her ballsiness in speaking out about body shaming, body image and what losing a lot of weight really looks like. For Birmingham, the thousands of emails, letters and social media she has received since her photo went viral has been something of a wonderful and wild ride.
"I heard from so many people that they loved seeing a non-Photoshopped image, and seeing that it was okay to love the skin you're in, no matter what," she wrote on Today.com.
"I'm happy that I've given hope to others who may have a lot of weight to lose – hope that they too can live a better quality of life."
Birmingham credits her husband for being her "rock" throughout the experience of becoming an internet sensation, and says that she is back on track with her healthy lifestyle after being temporarily de-railed by the fuss.
"My fitness/health regimen sort of went by the wayside during the whole viral experience," she wrote for Today.com.
"It is tough to stick to your routine when you’re traveling as much as I was in May. I spent much of the summer trying to get back into a routine and never quite got to it. I’m happy to report, though, that I’ve fully committed to getting back to Weight Watchers and an exercise routine this last month and it feels great!"
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