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Nicola Coughlan attends the ERDEM show during London Fashion Week February 2024 at The British Museum on February 17, 2024 in London, England.© Jeff Spicer

Nicola Coughlan's decision to be 'very naked' in Bridgerton is a lesson on loving your body

Dear reader, please stop discussing women's bodies

Georgia Brown
Senior Lifestyle & Fashion Writer
June 14, 2024
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The cast of Bridgerton brought glittering scenes and gilded glamour to Leicester Square at a special screening for part two of the corset-ripping drama's third season on Wednesday night. 

Shining amongst her co-stars was Nicola Coughlan, Bridgerton's current leading lady, who exuded diamond of the season sophistication in a blush Rodarte gown and billowing bridal veil. 

Nicola Coughlan at the premiere of Bridgerton in a crystal-lined dress© Lia Toby
Nicola Coughlan plays Bridgerton's leading lady, Penelope Featherington

You would think that in 2024, conversations about the size of womens' bodies would no longer be the fuel for online vitriol. Yet as Penelope Featherington's unbearably lusty romance with Colin Bridgerton brings increasingly steamy scenes to our screens, Nicola's non-thin body and its attractiveness has viciously been put up for debate. One columnist declared Nicola as "not hot" in response to her size. Seriously?

After watching the first, palpitation-inducing episode of part two at Bridgerton's special screening, I witnessed an audience erupt in excited whoops and cheers at Nicola's full-frontal nudity. Unsurprisingly, I found myself squealing along with them.

Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington© Netflix
Nicola Coughlan has said it has been "amazingly empowering" to play Penelope Featherington

Having grown up in the rom-com era of the nineties, too often have I seen intimacy portrayed as a squeaky clean polished performance in which female pleasure is ignored and the showing of non-thin nude bodies is out of the question. Nicola's middle finger to the status quo is more than empowering, it's revolutionary for the depiction of female bodies that should never have not been the 'norm'. 

"I specifically asked for certain lines and moments to be included," the Irish actress confirmed in an interview with Stylist

"There’s one scene where I’m very naked on camera, and that was my idea, my choice. It just felt like the biggest '[expletive] you' to all the conversation surrounding my body; it was amazingly empowering."

Nicola Coughlan attends The 2022 Met Gala Celebrating "In America: An Anthology of Fashion" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 02, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)© Getty
Nicola rose to fame after landing a role in Derry Girls in 2018

In a time where the prospect of taking Ozempic for weight loss has become as normal as looking up the train timetable, I found it remarkably refreshing to watch a woman proudly display her body exactly as it is; embracing her curves and natural folds that every one of us has. 

The Irish actress added that she felt empowered and beautiful during the intimate scenes alongside her co-star Luke Newton, and wanted to be able to "look back on this and remember how [expletive] hot" she looked.

Nicola's choices were praised by her co-stars as they gushed about the portrayal of intimacy on the red carpet at Wednesday's premiere. Speaking to press in London, Golda Roshuevel, who plays Queen Charlotte, said: "The representation that Nicola has given us is something to be celebrated." 

Luke Newton and Nicola Coughlan attend the "Bridgerton" Season 3 Part Two special screening at the Odeon Luxe Leicester Square on June 12, 2024 in London, England© Karwai Tang
Luke Newton and Nicola Coughlan at the "Bridgerton" Season 3 Part Two special screening in London on 12 June 2024

Luke, who plays Penelope's love interest Colin Bridgerton, described the pair's on screen intimacy as "honest" and "beautiful" when quizzed about the progression of their romance.

"It felt really just true and honest to their love story. Jess Brownell and her team have really honoured that," he said of the inclusion of sex scenes. "It felt like a natural progression to be honest, it never felt like it was a big jump between scenes - they feel so authentic and honest. 

Colin and Penelope's romance blossoms in Season Three© Neil Mockford
Colin and Penelope's romance blossoms in Season Three

"[The mirror scene] is probably the steamiest scene that we shot, but I just think it's so beautifully done," he added.

Ultimately, there should be no debate on the size or appeal of a woman's body - ever - and Nicola is not "brave" for choosing to do what hundreds of actors have done before her just because of her weight.

Nicola Coughlan attends the Emilia Wickstead show during London Fashion Week September 2023 at the Royal Academy of Arts on September 18, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Joe Maher/BFC/Getty Images)© Getty
Bridgerton season three welcomes some of the series steamiest scenes

In response to a journalist branding the actress just that, Nicola replied just as we would expect a woman of Lady Whistledown's level-of-unbotheredness to reply. 

"You know, it is hard 'cause I think women with my body type, women with perfect breasts - we do not see ourselves onscreen enough. I am very proud as a member of the perfect-breasts community. I hope you enjoy seeing them," she quipped. Thanks Nicola, we very much did.

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