Modeling seems like a dream career for many young men and women. Sadly, those who make their way into the highly competitive industry often come out the other side with terrifying tales.
Model Bridget Malcolm is one model opening up about just that. She’s modeled for big names, including Victoria’s Secret, Ralph Lauren, and Seafolly. A career in an industry that’s so tough on looks took its toll on the 27-year-old. During her career, she was rejected by a big client for gaining just half an inch around her hips.
Bridget has opened up about the experience on her blog. After 14 years as a model, Bridget has seen the good, bad, and ugly of the industry.
At its best, it catapulted her into a figure recognized around the world. At its worst, it nearly cost her her life. Two years into her recovery from anorexia, Bridget discusses how the knowledge that certain numbers can mean huge opportunities or the end of a career has impacted her physically and mentally.
Bridget Malcolm has been a model for 14 years. While that would be largely seen as a success in an industry where people come and go, it brings a lot of mixed feelings to the 27-year-old. She’s opening up about those feelings in a new post on her blog.
Attention came to Bridget’s story recently when she shared photos of herself from before and after her path to anorexia recovery. In a jarring Instagram caption, she discusses the unhealthy standards she was holding herself to for the sake of getting jobs. “This was me, a few weeks after I got rejected from a high profile client,” she begins. “And now. Strong and happy.”
“The reason for my rejection was ‘Bridget’s body does not look good enough,'” she explains. “The girl in these photos hadn’t had a period in months, and needed to sleep 12 hours a night in order to function. The most messed up part of all this though, is that I had been accepted by this client when I was half an inch smaller in previous years.”
The startling revelation is sadly not surprising. Bridget elaborates on it in her blog post. “I am very happy to say that my body has reached its natural set point,” she reports proudly. “For the last year, my weight has not fluctuated significantly. And for the last two years, my weight has not dipped out of its current BMI bracket.”
Bridget also knows that this doesn’t seem like a big deal to those outside of the modeling world. Sadly, their stories need to be spread to keep people interested in the industry aware of its high-pressure and predatory nature and so that those in charge can be held accountable and forced into better practices or extinction.
“I know that for a lot of people, this is not a big deal,” she explains. “But I have spent the last 14 years attempting to get as small as I can, and then dealt with the mental fall out when I would inevitably gain all the weight back, and then some.”
Despite her experiences, Bridget isn’t looking to place blame. She acknowledges all the benefits she’s gotten from this industry. “I have always worked very hard to not blame the modeling industry, or anyone within the industry for my mental struggles,” she writes. “Because it is no one’s fault, it is my burden to bear, and I am proud of myself for showing up to the work.”
“Quite frankly, I am beyond grateful for the industry,” she reflects. “It has given me a life beyond my wildest dreams, and every client has been a gift to work with. But the fact remains, until this year, I was expected to remain a hip size of 35 inches or under. My set point is at least an inch higher than that. It is just the way I am built.”
Despite the fact that being rejected over half an inch of size must have been extremely difficult, she’s thankful that it happened to her. Bridget explains: “I’m thankful that the sheer insanity of being rejected over half an inch of gain (which was not enough to get my periods back, or stop my hair from falling out) was enough to get myself into recovery from my eating disorder. My full health has been a gift beyond my wildest dreams. I never want to lose it again.”
This year marks Bridget’s full-time return to modeling. The difference is that this time, it’s happening on her terms. “This year I made myself an agreement,” she vows. “I would return to full-time modeling work, if, and only if, I was able to maintain my weight. If I was able to be free to eat healthily, work out, and do the job that I love, then I would continue.”
She’s been going to castings, unapologetically a size 4. She’s been welcomed warmly, a gift in itself. “I am extremely excited to say that I have had [the] loveliest year of work thus far into my career,” Bridget notes. “My wonderful agent has made it a point to send me to sets where I am welcome at my healthiest. And these sets have been only loving and kind towards me.”
Bridget is hopeful that the tides are changing in the industry and that both models and their fans will benefit as a result. “This to me shows that part of the fashion industry is truly changing,” she remarks. “The fact that I am welcome on these sets exactly as I am, and I am being rewarded with work for my health, fills me with such hope for the future.”
For Bridget, the change in the industry is an extra reward on top of the joys of her own recovery. “I now am sent on castings where I look around the room and see very few other size four blonde girls,” she concludes. “I see a range of sizes, backgrounds and ages. I see a range of hairstyles and stories accompanying the obligatory portfolio. This has set me free.”
Bridget is very brave for speaking out on her experiences, especially when her own recovery is still a work in progress. Her ability to reenter the world of modeling in a safe place that nurtures what she needs physically and mentally is inspiring for girls who don’t want to lose themselves while pursuing their dreams.