After Brooke Birmingham was told by a Shape magazine freelance writer that they couldn't accept the bikini photo she submitted for their weight-loss success story, she took the story (and the picture) to her blog and it went viral.
"If I couldn't have the picture of me in my bikini to go along with my story, then it wasn't MY story," she wrote. "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."
Now Shape is making sure her story gets told, and they want it told inside the pages of their magazine. Brooke will be featured along with five other "real" women who have incredible tales of losing weight and keep it off.
Shape Editor-at-Large Bahar Takhtehchian and Brooke appeared on Today to talk about the controversy, and she once again insisted the situation was a big misunderstanding and the freelance writer is to blame.
"It was a miscommunication with a freelancer who is not employed by Shape," Bahar explained. "Unfortunately she said there was an editorial policy that simply doesn't exist. So that's where things went awry a little bit."
Shape is currently looking for other women to feature in the magazine and shine a light on the notion that there is "a journey after the weight loss journey."
"We are excited to make this into an impactful discussion about weight loss and the realities," said Takhtehchian. "We want to turn this into something positive."
Brooke has lost more than 170 pounds over the past four-and-half years. In a blog post chronicling the whirlwind coverage surrounding the Shape controversy, Brooke thanked her supporters and had something to say to naysayers:
"I want to say thank you so much for all of your kind words through all of this! The positive response I have received has been overwhelming and I can't even keep up with all the comments, emails, and messages. Thankfully the positive has far outweighed the negative, which is great to see. You guys rock and made this small-town girl feel pretty amazing over the last week. I'm glad to have been the girl who brought this conversation to the mainstream media and to have so much support throughout it all! As for the negative people, sorry that you feel the need to bash people who are doing great things for this world. Nobody has time for that."
Brooke, you are damn right. Nobody has any time for negative folks. Thank you for starting this conversation.
If you have a story like Brooke's that you want to share with the world, you can email Shape magazine at firstname.lastname@example.org.