Victoria’s Secret model Bridget Malcolm says she was forced to get naked on set for a “high-profile” magazine photo shoot, which left her in tears.
The 26-year-old Australian stunner published a lengthy blog post on Monday where she candidly described the incident, which reportedly occurred a few years ago. Malcolm said she came forward with the story in hopes of shedding light on the challenges other models have to endure to feel confident enough to say no whenever they feel uncomfortable working on set.
“I had been assured that there was no nudity,” recalled Malcolm about the editorial in question. “Upon beginning to shoot, the photographer informed me that whilst there would be no nudity shown, he wanted me to shoot entirely nude — ‘for editing purposes.’ I was intensely uncomfortable and initially showed hesitation. But he pushed and pushed, and the next thing I knew, I was completely naked on a busy set.”
Malcolm said she ultimately stripped down after relentless pressure. However, the nightmare gig only got worse.
“As there were a lot of mirrors in the room, he asked for everyone to leave the set,” she wrote in her blog. “Not because I was naked and uncomfortable with a dozen strangers gawking at me, but so that he could get a clear shot.”
Malcolm also described how the shoot was moved outdoors and the photographer, who remained unnamed, showed little mercy or sympathy.
“Later that evening we were shooting outside,” she explained. “The only thing I was wearing was a fur coat, and I was aware that there were people watching us from the street. He asked me to take the coat off, and I refused. He asked again, and I refused. He asked again, and this time I took it off, feeling completely coerced and unsafe.”
According to Malcolm, a female stylist in attendance noticed she was visibly distressed and attempted to shield her. But Malcolm claimed the photographer did nothing to cut the session short.
“The shot ended with me in tears, needing to take a minute to get my composure back,” she said. “The photographer then came out and apologized, claiming that he didn’t realize we had an audience. I truly would love to believe him.”
Malcolm admitted that over the years, the memory of the photo shoot haunted her. The star described feeling guilty for not speaking up more and keeping firm with her opinion. Malcolm wondered how she could have handled the situation differently.
“Growing up, I was a shy, introverted child,” explained Malcolm. “I had a safe childhood, and never really felt the need to speak up — I was privileged in that way. However, my development was also hindered. As a girl, you are taught that what you are feeling is not as important as your male counterparts, that their urges and experiences are much more intense and ‘out of control’ than yours.”
“… I feel like my family growing up did a good job of trying to keep things balanced between my brother and I,” Malcolm clarified. “But it is hard to mitigate the message that most of us do not realize is being forced down our throats the seconds we leave the womb.”
Malcolm said that none of those nude images made it in the pages of the magazine. However, she had no idea what became of them.
“There is also the awful feeling of knowing that there is a man out there, with questionable morals coupled with a misogynistic approach to women, who has thousands of photos of you naked,” she said. “Even if there was no nudity published in the magazine (thankfully there was no), I have no control over where they end up or who sees them. There was a film crew there that day. Same situation. The control of women’s bodies by men is a tale as old as time.”
“This was the first time in my life that I have felt the power imbalance so tangibly, and it forced me to look at the world in an entirely new light. In a way, I am glad that I had such a traumatic experience — it opened my eyes to the way the world works, forcing me to begin the work of reclaiming the right to my life. But, surely it should not take such exploitation for all women to wake up to their manipulation. I would certainly hope that all my younger female relatives would not be subject to such a rough awakening.”
Malcolm said she relied on the close, loving friendships she shared with other women, especially fellow models who have experienced similar situations on set, to help her cope with the experience. She also described that after telling her story to one model who was asked to strip down for another photographer, she ditched the job and avoided public humiliation.
“Simply through talking, we can protect ourselves and our sisters,” said Malcolm. “Through being open about our struggles (and being open to the struggles) we can begin to make the world a safer place for all women. The world has been defined by men and their belief of their rights. There is no denying that. However we are at an interesting time where we are able to take back our power, and align ourselves with the lives we should have always had the right to live. And this process begins always with conversation.”
Malcolm has carved out a successful career for herself in the no-nonsense modeling industry. At age 14 she was scouted by an agency and after graduating high school, she saw herself living in New York City as she traveled around the world pursuing modeling full time. When not walking down the runway or being photographed, Malcolm runs a blog where she gives advice on body positivity and wellness.
“My personal motto is ‘progress over perfection’ and I believe that little changes amount to an improved quality of life,” she noted.