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HomeEntertaintmentNicola Coughlan is The Body Positivity Icon We Need Right Now

Nicola Coughlan is The Body Positivity Icon We Need Right Now

Nicola Coughlan is The Body Positivity Icon We Need Right Now

Nicola Coughlan may hear what the haters have to say, but she’s not having any of it!

As a plus-sized woman myself, it meant a great deal to this author to see such a beautiful, full-figured actress lead a hit Netflix series. And so well at that. Coughlan’s approach to body shaming and trolling, along with her bold personality, makes her an inspiration for women everywhere, especially those who can relate a bit more to Penelope. The “Bridgerton” star, who plays Penelope Featherington and the mysterious Lady Whistledown, doesn’t hold back when it comes to shutting down trolls or even reporters. But much like her character on the show, she does it with utmost grace.

Cortesy of Netflix

“Bridgerton” Season 3 recently aired its final five episodes, showcasing more of Penelope in some steamy scenes. One reason for this was Coughlan’s own request for more nudity and sex scenes for her character. In an interview with Stylist she said she felt confident to be naked, describing it as “the biggest ‘fuck you’” to all the body-related criticism. “I specifically asked for certain lines and moments to be included. It just felt like the biggest ‘fuck you’ to all the conversation surrounding my body, it was amazingly empowering,” she stated. It is bold moves like this that inspired me to write this piece.

Following the season premiere, trolls once again took to the internet to discuss Coughlan’s body, this time spreading lies that her waist is Photoshopped in “Bridgerton”. This led to Coughlan giving us yet another great lesson on how to deal with haters who who wont stop body shaming you. In an interview with People, Coughlan responded saying “I saw some trolls. They were like, ‘They Photoshopped your waist,’ and I was like, ‘No, they did not,’” said Coughlan . “I think if you wear corsetry for long enough, your body really molds to it. Sometimes they come in a fitting for a fashion designer and they put a corset on me and I’m like, ‘Oh, you can go tight,’ and they go, ‘What do you mean?’ I’m like, ‘My body now will go whew.’” This was the latest in a series of body shaming incidents that Coughlan had to deal with during the Bridgerton season 3 press junket.

This incident marked the second time recently that Coughlan responded bravely and tactfully to comments about her body. During a Bridgerton Screening and Q&A in Dublin on the 6th of June, a reporter said Coughlan had to aknowledge she was “very brave” to do nude scenes in Bridgerton. Without hesitation, Coughlan quipped, “You know, it is hard because I think women with my body type — women with perfect breasts — we don’t get to see ourselves onscreen enough. And I’m very proud as a member of the perfect breast community. I hope you enjoy seeing them.” This response garnered a massive cheer from the audience, it showcases her ability to take the negative comments that people say about her and turn into something empowering.

Courtesy of Netflix

In an interview with “Britain’s Stylist Magazine” for their May issue, she discussed the constant negative outlook people have towards her body. “There is so much discourse online about how I look, and I don’t think I could ever express how hard that is,” she revealed. “It’s insulting because I worked hard on this show; a year of fittings and dance lessons and shooting, I barely saw my family, I gave it my absolute all. And then I start doing press and all people want to talk about is my body? It’s so f**king disappointing and reductive.” Must I right it in Lady Whistledown for you to understand? Dearest Gentle Reader…. It’s 2024 and people still beleive that being fat is wrong and being thin is the only thing that is right? This vicious cycle of people constantly commenting on a women’s body when it is none of their business is something needs to change in Hollywood, and for that to change, mindsets do too.
In taking to Instagram to address how people refuse to look beyond someone’s appearance, and continue to post hurtful comments, Coughlan shared a now deleted Instagram post that asked fans to refrain from commenting on her body, both negatively and positively. “Most people are being nice and not trying to be offensive. But I am just one real-life human being and it’s really hard to take the weight of thousands of opinions on how you look being sent directly to you every day.”
In 2021, Coughlan wrote in an instagram post that she had no desire to be a body positivity activist, “Everytime I’m asked about my body in an interview it makes me deeply uncomfortable and so sad I’m not just allowed to just talk about the job I do that I so love.” Another incident that occurred that year was when Coughlan was photographed at the Golden Globes wearing a stunning tulle gown with a black cardigan by Molly Goddard, she was praised for her style. However, one Twitter (now X) user referred to her as “the fat girl from Bridgerton” in a tweet, adding, “No matter how hot and stylish you are, if you’re a fat girl there will always be a black cardigan you think about wearing, then decide against, but ultimately wear (because) you feel like you have to.” Coughlan replied with her head held high, saying, “I thought the cardigan looked ace. Molly Goddard used them on her runway with the dresses. That’s where the idea came from. Also, I have a name.” Because Lady Whistledown does not have time for haters.
Coughlan delivers a brilliant and emotional performance in season 3, reaching depths of her character we didnt know were there. She truly shines as Penelope, and yet all people choose to see is her size. Which is such a shame really, because she is such a terrific actress. Putting aside the trolls online and small minded reporters, you can see how her turn this season has had a huge impact on audiences everywhere. From the bold way she takes on haters, her charming personality, the way she constantly strives to be, nothing more than herself, and as I mentioned, the importance of having her as a leading lady for plus sized women cannot be overstated.
Nicola Coughlan’s journey in Hollywood, from her remarkable performances in shows such as “Derry Girls”, “Harlots” and “Bridgerton” to her unapologetic attitude towards body shaming, has made her a beacon of inspiration. Her resilience in the face of relentless scrutinity and her ability to transform negativity into empowering moments are lessons for us all. Coughlan’s boldness in challenging industry norms and societal expectations, coupled with her undeniable talent, continues to inspire many. As “Bridgerton” Season 3 streams on Netflix, viewers are not only captivated by her character but also motivated by her real-life strength and authenticity. Nicola Coughlan truly is the body positivity icon we need right now.

Courtesy of Getty Images / Netflix X / Shutterstock

Bridgerton Season 3 is now streaming on Netflix, Starring Nicola Coughlan and Luke Newton.

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Fangirl and Writer with a huge passion for entertainment.

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