Former Victoria's Secret Model Reveals Why She Quit Before Becoming an Angel
The model quit working with the brand before receiving her Angel wings.
For Victoria's Secret models, getting their Angel wings was once the pinnacle of success. But after significant controversy surrounding the Victoria's Secret runway program, last month, the company decided to move away from its iconic Angels and launch The VS Collective, "an ever-growing group of accomplished women who share a common passion to drive positive change." The group includes athletes like Megan Rapinoe, professional soccer player and pay equity and LGBTQIA+ activist; Priyanka Chopra Jonas, an actor, producer, and entrepreneur; and Valentina Sampaio, who was Victoria's Secret's first transgender model in 2019. But since the announcement, one former Victoria's Secret model, Bridget Malcolm, has started sharing just how difficult it was to make it to the top of the brand. Malcolm says some demands were so difficult that she quit before becoming an exclusive Victoria's Secret Angel. Read on to learn what she experienced behind the runway.
Bridget Malcolm says she quit Victoria's Secret before becoming an Angel, in part, because of the pressure to lose weight.
Malcolm walked in two Victoria's Secret shows—once in 2015 and again in 2016—but she stopped working with the company before ever receiving her Angel wings. According to the Australian model, she worked with the brand for some time amid promises of becoming one of the coveted Victoria's Secret Angels, but quit because there was a never-ending pressure to lose weight.
"There was this culture that was created that was very like, 'If you just stay, if you just get a little bit skinnier, if you just keep doing what we want you to do, you're going to be an Angel and you're going to be world famous and it's going to be amazing,'" Malcolm explained in a TikTok video posted in mid-June. "I was a kid, I was young … so I believed it."
She added: "I once had one of the top photographers from Victoria's Secret say, 'If you got skinnier, you will become an Angel.'"
The model also said she was rejected from the 2017 Victoria's Secret show when her bra size went up.
Malcolm recently went viral for calling out Victoria's Secret after the company announced it was ending its Angel program to launch the more inclusive VS Collective. Malcolm posted a TikTok on June 26 of her wearing the white lace bra she modeled in the 2016 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, which was a size 30A. Malcolm said that she was rejected from Victoria Secret's 2017 show after being told her body "did not look good enough." She was a size 30B at the time.
Malcolm is now a size 34B, which she said "is healthy for me."
"Victoria's Secret, your performative allyship is a joke," Malcolm said in the TikTok, referencing the VS Collective, which also includes Paloma Elesser, a plus-size model and body advocate.
Malcolm started modeling when she was just 14.
Malcolm was just 14 when she was scouted to model by her first agency Vivien's in the early 2000s, according to the Australian model's official website. Her first modeling job was with Harpers Bazaar Australia and soon thereafter, her career took off. In a TikTok posted on June 30, Malcolm said she had faced "a lot of pressure to lose weight" by her modeling agencies well before she turned 18. "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," she said of the situation coming to a head. "I also had a bout with suicidal ideations, which was terrifying."
Malcolm says that the modeling industry needs to change.
Malcolm says it has taken her time to talk about her experiences, but now that she is "in solid recovery"—she's both sober and has recovered from her eating disorder—she says she feels strong enough to talk about it and is prepared for any backlash. Malcolm says she's a "strong believer that the fashion industry needs to change."
The model said in one of her TikToks that she is now working with "brands who are lovely, who treat women like women" and treat her with "respect on set," noting that wasn't what she experienced with Victoria's Secret.
"I'm one of the lucky models—I was able to make a long career out of the fashion industry," she said. "But my job should not include abuse, and that is why I'm speaking up now."