Blogger Brooke Birmingham did everything right. She ate well, got plenty of exercise and lost 172 pounds — a success story by any definition. And when Shape magazine found out about it, they were clamoring to feature her as an inspiration to women everywhere.

Until she sent them a photo of herself in a bikini top.

Like anyone who loses massive weight, Brooke doesn’t have a stomach like an ironing board. She still has some excess skin, which is totally natural because skin stretches out with weight gain, and doesn’t just miraculously bounce back once the weight is gone.

So Shape was all set to publish her story online — but only if she sent in a picture with her tummy covered in a shirt. They even made up some BS story about a new policy¬†to only show the women in their Success Stories section fully clothed. Um, right.

Shape may have been ashamed of the jiggle, but Brooke certainly wasn’t. And she chose to kill the story rather than hide her body.

Brooke Birmingham bikini

In Brooke’s words:

If anything, the should want my picture on their site. My body is real, not photoshopped or hidden because I feel like I should be ashamed. This is a body after losing 172 pounds, a body that has done amazing things, and looks AMAZING in a freaking bikini.

Agreed.

If Shape wants to show weight-loss “after” photos, they should be honest with their readers about what the women’s bodies actually look like. As it is, we’re fooled into thinking that with the right diet and some crunches, anyone can have the flat bellies that fill most of the magazine’s pages. And that’s just a lie.

Thank you, Brooke, for having the balls to post the photo, and the integrity to turn down the opportunity for massive exposure. We need people like you to help change the status quo.