One Victoria’s Secret Angel is tired of Instagram trolls commenting on her body, and she’s speaking up. “Whether it’s fat- or skinny-shaming, it’s such a superfluous thing to do to someone,” 25-year-old Bridget Malcolm told Stellar magazine. “It’s so irrelevant to who they are as a person.”
Instead of letting the comments bring her down, though, Malcolm is intent on being a positive role model for her followers. She runs a blog with advice on everything from relationships to body image. “Looking up to models is cool and all, but I’ve never really understood it,” she said. “I guess that’s what has made me want to prove I’m someone worth looking up to.”
Malcolm responds to her followers’ questions with encouraging tips for body positivity. “I find that doing things every day that I can control and leave me feeling strong was a huge help for confidence — aka, working out and eating right,” Malcolm wrote of how she boosted her own self-esteem. “By acknowledging your body and the amazing things it does every day for you via working out you are empowering yourself hugely for the future.”
As for the skinny-shaming, she’s equally intent on being inclusive of all diets. “Nobody should tell you how to eat,” she wrote. “I share what works for me, but I am not here to point fingers at non-vegans out there. Some people work better on plants, others meat — we should all be respectful of each other’s needs and desires.”
Malcolm’s strong constitution helped her come away unscathed after she was body-shamed last year. Shortly after the Victoria’s Secret 2015 fashion show, the model posted on Instagram about receiving nasty comments on many of her photos. “Can we STOP with the skinny shaming please? I am extremely fit and healthy and am not in the slightest way anorexic,” Malcolm wrote. “I have worked hard to look like this and am proud of my body. I may not be the curviest but I am a woman who has every right to look the way I do.” She called on her followers to assess what stirs up this resentment toward her body. “Maybe today take a look inside yourself and wonder why you feel the need to shame strangers over the Internet about their bodies. Peace and love to you all — let’s change the conversation.”
As a Victoria’s Secret model, Malcolm has a body that is highly coveted and crafted. She fronts a multibillion-dollar company that plays into a single-minded beauty ideal, each model having a nearly identical body. While Malcolm’s body-inclusive intentions are noble, they are minimized by Victoria’s Secret’s unhealthy and unattainable standards of beauty that Malcolm herself subscribes to. Although Malcolm may not be unhealthily thin, the measures that it takes to get Victoria’s Secret catwalk-ready are. The models prepare for the show with no-carb diets and extreme exercise, with only 1,300 calories a day for fuel. “No-carb diets are not meant for long-term use,” Victoria’s Secret nutritionist Charles Passler admitted to Poppy Cross. “The potential long-term negative effects are nutrient deficiencies and an imbalance of normal flora bacteria, the bacteria plays a large role in your immune system, ability to process nutrients, mental and emotional wellbeing and the ability to maintain weight.”
Still, Victoria’s Secret models don’t rely solely on superstrict diets and genetics, as many of Malcolm’s trolls suggest. “Genetics plays a large role in what each individual has to work with as a foundation,” said Passler. “The rest is hard work, dedication, and talent. I see potential models who have been discovered and seek me out to get model fit and are amazed at the amount of work and effort it requires.”
Regardless, all forms of body-shaming can be damaging, and Malcolm’s Angel status doesn’t make her impervious to hateful comments left on her photos.