Former Victoria's Secret Model Bridget Malcolm Faced Sexual Assault, Weight Loss Pressure by Agencies
Bridget Malcolm is opening up about the struggles she went through as a young model
When former Victoria's Secret model Bridget Malcolm posted a TikTok trying on the exact bra she wore in the 2016 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show to promote healthy body image, it quickly went viral. Since then, the Australian model, 29, started sharing candid stories about her experience in the fashion industry.
In one video posted on TikTok and Instagram, Malcolm explained why she has not "spoken up until now" about the harmful hurdles she faced as a young model.
"By the age of 18, I'd lived in three countries alone. I traveled to all continents except for Antarctica. I'd been groomed by a much older man. I'd been sexually assaulted multiple times," she said, adding that she was "told to do cocaine to lose weight" by someone in her entourage.
Malcolm said that there was "a lot of pressure to lose weight by my agencies" and was urged to "just have lots of sex to lose weight" when she was underage. At that same time, she was "struggling" with her gender identity and developed anorexia, orthorexia (which is defined as a fixation on healthy eating), anxiety, depression and PTSD.
"I couldn't socialize without drinking. I was developing quite the reliance on Xanax and Ambien in order to get me through the night. And that was before I turned 18," she said. Once Malcolm did turn 18, it "didn't get better."
"Eight years later on my 26th birthday I had a nervous breakdown and I couldn't leave my house for a year without panic attacks and severe anxiety. I also had a bout with suicidal ideation which was terrifying. That was four years ago," Malcolm explained.
It took those low points for the model to get the help that she needed, bringing her to the healthy place she is in today. "I am two-plus years sober. I'm four years in recovery from an eating disorder. I'm happy. I'm balanced. I'm strong and I feel the best I've ever felt," she said. "The reality is, I couldn't talk about my experiences before I reached this place because I would have intense PTSD flashbacks. I would have panic attacks and I wouldn't be okay."
As a "strong believer that the fashion industry needs to change," Malcolm hopes that her voice can help make a difference. "I'm one of the lucky models. I was able to make a long career out of the fashion industry. But my job should not include abuse," she said.
Last week Malcolm posted a TikTok video trying on a white lace bra she modeled in the 2016 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show to reveal how her body has changed since landing the lingerie runway gig.
She put on the bra over a bikini top, to show just how ill-fitted it is now, while making a frowny face to the camera. The bra is size 30A. Now, Malcolm says she's "a size 34B which is healthy for me."
In 2017, when Malcolm went to audition for the fashion show again, her bra cup size had increased to a 30B. "I was rejected from the show in 2017 by [former VS CMO] Ed Razek. He said, 'My body did not look good enough,'" Malcolm said.
"Look how big it was on me," she said, pointing out the same bra she was trying on again in the video. "The sadness behind my eyes from the 2016 show breaks my heart."
At the time, Razek did not respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
Today, Malcolm identifies herself as a mental health advocate in her Instagram bio, and co-hosts the podcast, Model Mentality, with psychiatrist Dr. Allie Sharma where they "open up the dialogue around mental health one conversation at a time."
If you or someone you know needs mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.
If you or someone you know is battling an eating disorder, please contact the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) at 1-800-931-2237 or go to NationalEatingDisorders.org.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to rainn.org.