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She was hailed in media as a strong woman and defiant of outdated ideas of beauty.
Brit.com 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.”
— BuzzReads (@BuzzReads) May 15, 2015
— MSN UK Lifestyle (@msnuklifestyle) April 16, 2015
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!”
— REglam_ME (@REglam_ME) December 26, 2015
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.”
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
— Tess H🍒lliday (@Tess_Holliday) May 1, 2021
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:
This is Healthy? Cosmo Rings in the New Year by Promoting Obesity https://t.co/BxXsbaHNC9
— Not the Bee (@Not_the_Bee) January 4, 2021
‘By what measurement are you healthy?’ @DrHilaryJones
‘I do not expect to be on the cover of Men’s Health as a vision of health.’ @piersmorgan
‘It’s saying if you exercise, that is healthy.’ @susannareid100
The debate over Cosmo’s cover heats up this morning. pic.twitter.com/dT6ksIsL9O
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) January 12, 2021
— Sports Illustrated Swimsuit (@SI_Swimsuit) May 8, 2019
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:
You are gorgeous. It’s a shame our entire culture is so sick, but statements like this and people like you are making a difference, so thank you 💪
— Christina (@christinawrites) May 3, 2021
Thank you SO MUCH for your vulnerability in saying this out loud. I’m in recovery from binge eating disorder, and stand beside you in calling out a culture that blatantly celebrates thinness over health. It’s utter bullshit (with *highly* racist roots), and has damaged so much.
— Jamie Barton (@jbartonmezzo) May 1, 2021
Thank you for speaking out about this. It’s so important that people know that anyone of any shape or size can have anorexia. I hope you’re getting lots of support ♥️
— Mel Ciavucco (@melciavucco) May 1, 2021
As for the critics, she wasn’t havin’ it:
Not the “but your fat how are you anorexic” comments. Y’all don’t know how science & body works huh. My technical diagnosis is anorexia nervosa & yes, I’m still not ashamed. I’m too damn happy for y’all to even come close to dimming my shine.
— Tess H🍒lliday (@Tess_Holliday) May 2, 2021
To everyone saying that I can’t possibly love myself and have an eating disorder, that is the actual definition of loving myself. Being able to prioritize myself & to be in recovery. I’m more self aware than any of my critics but you know, y’all go off.
— Tess H🍒lliday (@Tess_Holliday) May 2, 2021
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.
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