Bridgerton’s Nicola Coughlan hits back at journalist who shamed her for nude scene

By Abby Amoakuh

Published Jun 12, 2024 at 12:44 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

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Nicola Coughlan is being praised for her response to a journalist who called her “very brave” for showing her bare body in season 3 of Netflix’s steamy Regency drama Bridgerton.

The 37-year-old actress, who is known for her leading role in the Irish teen sitcom Derry Girls, recently attended a post-screening Q&A session in Dublin with her co-star Luke Newton.

And, when a reporter felt it necessary to comment about her body type and the kinds of scenes she had committed to in the second half of the series, the actor countered the unnecessary remarks with a cheeky response.

“You know, it is hard ’cause I think women with my body type, women with perfect breasts—we do not see ourselves onscreen enough,” Coughlan responded, immediately invoking a ripple of cheers and laughter from the audience. “I am very proud as a member of the perfect-breasts community. I hope you enjoy seeing them,” the actor continued.

Online netizens praised Coughlan for her smart response to a comment which implied that the actress should feel shame or insecurity about having a perfectly normal body.

This couldn’t be further from the truth, because in an interview with Stylist magazine published in May, Coughlan revealed that she explicitly asked to be “very naked” on camera.

“I specifically asked for certain lines and moments to be included,” Coughlan told the publication.

”There’s one scene where I’m very naked on camera, and that was my idea, my choice. It just felt like the biggest ‘f*ck you’ to all the conversation surrounding my body; it was amazingly empowering,” the 37-year-old revealed.

Yet, journalists across the UK didn’t quite agree with her—as evidenced by writer Zoe Strimpel from the conservative magazine Spectator: “And so the unspoken final frontier of oppression is also the most debilitating: not being hot. As the sociologist Catherine Hakim has written, ‘erotic capital’ is a key part of an individual’s ability to progress, impress and make money.”

Strimpel continued “Attractive people, noted Hakim, have easier, more prosperous lives. Love and sex as well as money often come to them more easily than to the plain, old or chubby. (…) The only physical attribute that works against universal erotic capital in almost any context is fat. But into that thorny bramble marches this season of Bridgerton, with podgy Penelope (Nicola Coughlan) as the star, finally attracting the tender gaze of perfect ten Colin Bridgerton, whom she has long loved and supported from a friendly yearning distance,” the writer concluded.

Luckily, netizens online did not only revolt over Coughlan’s characterisation as ‘fat’ but also the notion that there was anything wrong or remotely unusual about being chubbier.

Skinniness is indeed a commodity still widely traded across a fatphobic society, especially in the appearance-focused industry of acting.

However, Coughlan isn’t fat in the same way that Bridget Jones or Martine McCutcheon in Love Actually weren’t. The fact that these women were ever labelled as such is quite frightening.

To continue to perpetuate the idea that women with perfectly normal bodies and admittedly amazing breasts is to uphold an incredibly unhealthy beauty standard that seeks to marginalise a large portion of our society.

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