'Victoria's Secret' model Bridget Malcolm talks about the dangers of unhealthy eating for lean bodies
Body positivity and a more conscious approach to wellness are slowly - but surely - changing the modelling agency for the better. Now, there is much more of a voice and platform for those that don't fall into the archaic idea of what a model looks like. As a result, people don't have to literally kill themselves in order to look good for the camera or runaway.
One advocate of models eating better is Victoria's Secret alumni Bridget Malcolm. After years of unhealthy dieting practices left her with a ruined digestive system and chronic anxiety, the model is on a crusade to demystify the process of achieving sample size.
Speaking to Harpers Bazaar, she explained the hardships of unhealthy dieting. "For two years, I lived off mostly steamed vegetables and protein shakes. I was so underweight that it would take me 10 minutes to climb a flight of stairs. I was tired, often going to sleep at 8 p.m. because I had no energy. My hair was falling out. I felt completely alone and isolated, but I was scared to leave my house."
Malcolm also said she became isolated, perceiving herself as a boring hindrance because she didn't want to eat anything that wasn't made by her. The worst part was that at the time she couldn't see what she was doing to herself. In reality, she was, self-admittedly, battling an eating disorder and chronic anxiety that was ruining her digestive system. "I thought I was doing what I had to do to succeed in the industry that I love."
"Instagram didn’t help. Every photo I posted of myself, people would call me disgusting. There was a small part of me that actually thought, Great! That means I'm skinny enough. But there was a bigger part of me that agreed with them. Having people attack me for being too thin, I was like, 'Yeah, I know. I don't like myself either.' All it did was flame my idea that I didn't deserve to be here. I wouldn't listen to reason, because in the midst of an eating disorder or anxiety, it's really hard to see yourself objectively."
At her worst, she was a size 0-2 which Malcolm agrees was dangerous. This all changed when she went to see a therapist. "I was finally able to realize how unhealthy my lifestyle was, physically and emotionally. From there, I slowly made changes in my life, and luckily, my friends and my now-husband stuck in there, supporting me with patience and love, helping me to see that my anxieties and need to diminish myself were due to the dysmorphic image that I had of myself in my head."
"Now I’m opening the dialog for people who are struggling with what I struggled with. I'm trying to do it in a way that sheds light on my experience, because I still work as a model and continue to love what I do - but only because I’ve taken the steps to heal."
Some people, models as well aren't ready for change - actively seeking out nutritionists that will help them with "eliminate diets." Not everyone is in a place where they feel comfortable talking about it because they're worried about losing work.
The opposite happened with Malcolm. "My agents gave me a massive hug and told me how proud they were: proud that me telling my story is the start of some real changes." They admit though, if she had done this 10 years ago, she would probably have been fired and her career would have been over.
It’s important for people to see other sizes represented in the industry as well otherwise they will do dangerous things with food and their diets to achieve perceived "perfection". For Malcolm personally, it has taken two years for her body to heal. A healthier routine and way of living has helped the anxiety and depression.
She admits it comes back from time to time but overall she's much better. Listen to your body, don't be afraid of fat and talk to people if you're truly suffering. The more we communicate, the easier it becomes for everyone.