'As a curvy girl, Bridgerton should've made me feel seen. Instead, it confirmed what I've always feared.'

Dear gentle readers, I want to make it clear that this isn't a story about Nicola Coughlan's body.

Well, it is… just not in the way you might think.

Like precisely all of the female population, I tuned in last Thursday to watch the second part of Bridgerton's third season. 

After being left hanging by that carriage scene in episode four, my friends and I were excited to see what would unfold for Polin (that's Penelope Featherington and Colin Bridgerton's couple name, for the uneducated). Within minutes, we practically dissolved into the giggling school girls we once were as we watched Colin lead his future bride into his family's drawing room to announce their engagement.

And — as expected — it was sugary, rom-com period drama perfection.

But what I wasn't saying out loud to my friends — and something I couldn't even quite articulate to myself at the time — was that I knew the much-hyped sex scene between Colin and Penelope was going to mean something to me. 

Yes, yes, I know they're fictitious characters, etc, etc. But as a curvy/mid-size woman, I've never really seen anyone who looks like me having sex on screen (apart from Hannah Horvath in Girls). And I can't really think of anyone who looks like me being desired on screen either.

Watch the trailer for Bridgerton season three. Post continues below. 

Video via Netflix.

Most millennials (and indeed the generations before us) grew up in the era of the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show and movies like Bridget Jones' Diary, where Renee Zelwegger played a 'frumpy, overweight' woman despite being no bigger than a size 12. We also saw Jessica Simpson splashed across magazine covers for daring to put on weight in Hollywood (but still being smaller than the average-sized woman), all of which can result in some pretty serious self-loathing and body issues. 

Let's just say when Taylor Swift sang "sometimes I feel like everybody is a sexy baby and I'm on the monster on the hill", I felt that in my bones.

So I was excited and hopeful at the thought of seeing Penelope (played by Nicola Coughlan) front and centre of a Bridgerton love story and her beauty being appreciated on screen.

It shouldn't have been a big deal. But it was.

In the lead-up to the new season, Coughlan herself even spoke about how she specifically asked for more nude scenes as an up-yours to the people constantly making rude remarks about her body.

"There's one scene where I'm very naked on camera, and that was my idea, my choice," she told Stylist. 

THAT carriage scene. Image: Netflix. 


And let me just say, the much-hyped six-minute sex scene in episode five lived up to the expectation so many fans had set. (Side note: Coughlan was telling straight facts when she said she represented women with perfect breasts, because they were as glorious as her acting!)

Seeing someone who is not a size eight be the object of such affection did heal a little something in me.

Except once that scene was over, that was… kind of it.

Apart from one fleeting intimate scene in the next episode, we mostly just watched the side stories of Benedict Bridgerton having a threesome (go off, Benny!), Cressida's downfall after pretending to be Lady Whistledown, and the Mondrich family's rise to aristocracy. Oh, and they threw in Francesca's love story, too. (There was A LOT going on.)

As each episode played on, I had a sinking feeling. Instead of getting to see Penelope enjoy her moment, we saw her feeling stressed and alone as her husband-to-be was angry at her right up until — and during — their wedding.


Penelope deserved better. She deserved more affection! More romance! More sex! (Come on, you know that's a big reason we're all watching it, let's not pretend.)

My friend perfectly articulated it in the moments after we finished the episodes: "They finally put a woman who isn't stick-thin in a lead role and yet they still missed the mark. It's like they're saying, 'She's incredible and desirable but let's not show her TOO much.'"

It felt like the showrunners didn't understand the power they had, or the deeper meaning this season would represent for so many "normal" women.


Because the glaring lack of intimacy we see for Penelope compared to Daphne Bridgerton and Kate Sharma (both played by straight-sized actresses) in the previous two seasons kind of just reinforces what I've always felt as a bigger woman: that I need to shrink down to be appreciated, to be adored.

And it seems I'm not alone in this sentiment.

Fans in the UK started a petition demanding deleted sex scenes be added back in (yes, really).

The petition, which at last count had more than 56,000 signatures, claimed that various intimate scenes were cut from the final edit. They included: "Colin going home with Penelope after he finds her at the modiste, which leads to an angry kissing scene, Polin laying in bed together talking about publishing Colin's manuscripts, Colin whispering sweet nothings to Pen in front of the mirror, kissing her neck and being playful and a long intimate montage in episode 8 (including a scene in which Colin goes down on Pen)."

There's no denying Coughlan was the standout in this season and is an incredible actress. Which is exactly why we wanted MORE.

Yes, I can practically hear people screaming at me that I should be grateful for the representation at all. And I absolutely am. I just wish the showrunners understood that if you're making such an important step, you might as well leap the whole way.

Otherwise you risk disappointing the exact people you were trying to represent.

Feature Image: Supplied/Netflix.

 Calling all beauty lovers! Take our short survey to go in the running to win a $50 gift voucher!