Plus-Size Model and Fat-Acceptance Activist Comes out as Anorexic

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

A model admits to an eating disorder; call it an unexpected turn.

In 2015, LA-based Tess Holliday announced she’d been signed to a major modeling agency.

At the time, it was big news: the 29-year-old was a plus-size model.

She was hailed in media as a strong woman and defiant of outdated ideas of beauty. celebrated thusly:

Tess has taken full advantage of her 19,000 followers on Twitter and 375,000 followers on Instagram, by spearheading and regularly celebrating the hashtag #effyourbeautystandards (which also have its own Instagram page). Tess often posts images of herself alongside positive messages focused around body image. Underneath a recent snap of her in lingerie she writes, “I hope this makes you realize that it’s okay to be yourself, even if you happen to exist in a fat body.”

“While of course she isn’t the first plus model to be signed ever,” the outlet noted, “she is the shortest to be brought on by a prominent agency – Tess is just 5’5″ and is a size 22.”

“The average plus-size agency model,” MiLK Model Management owner Anna Shillinglaw told the NY Daily News, “stands at five-feet-eight or taller and is in between a size eight to 16 U.S.”

Tess touted triumph on social media:

“Don’t let your size limit you on missing out on the wonders the world has for you. This has ZERO to do with health & all to do with believing in yourself!”

But now, Holliday’s back in the headlines — this time, for something quite different.

On a May 1st, she dropped a bomb:

“I’m anorexic & in recovery.”

Once again, she seized the opportunity to be an icon of empowerment:

“I’m anorexic & in recovery. I’m not ashamed to say it out loud anymore. I’m the result of a culture that celebrates thinness & equates that to worth, but I get to write my own narrative now. I’m finally able to care for a body that I’ve punished my entire life & I am finally free.”

Body image and size have certainly been sizable topics the last few years.

And in some sectors, publishers promoting the female form have taken to a reshaping.

In January, I covered the story of Cosmo’s “This is Healthy!” series of covers.

The magazine championed fuller figures to the tune of controversy:

And in 2019, Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue spotlighted what Fox News called the publication’s “curviest model” ever:

As social activism draws a new landscape, messaging over health, fitness, and the things to which women should aspire continues to evolve.

The same is true concerning issues of mental health.

Back to Tess and her announcement, some tweeters gave the gal an attagirl:

As for the critics, she wasn’t havin’ it:

On Instagram, Tess told followers to stop commenting on her weight.

“Don’t. Comment. … Yes, I’ve lost weight — I’m healing from an eating disorder & feeding my body regularly for the first time in my entire life. When you equate weight loss with ‘health’ & place value & worth on someone’s size, you are basically saying that we are more valuable now because we are smaller & perpetuating diet culture… & that’s corny as hell. NOT here for it. “

It sounds like she’s trying to get things in order. Here’s to hoping she succeeds.



See more pieces from me:

Just in Time for Mother’s Day: The World Gets Its First Nonbinary-Named Insect

Maryland Judge Tells Employees Across the State: No More ‘Thin Blue Line’ Masks

There May Be Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth: Missouri House Approves ‘Rush Limbaugh Day’

Find all my RedState work here.

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