Published 2022-02-03
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The World's Biggest Model. Tess Holliday Proves That The More The Merrier?

Ever since generations of women were little girls, they have known that weight and size matter a great deal in the modeling world. The mass media's view of the human body has been changing for some time now, and more and more celebrities are joining the body-positive movement, which opposes unrealistic beauty standards. Models on the catwalks have always been the “ideal” size; slim, slender, and every piece of clothing fit them perfectly. These standards slowly began to change some time ago, and the world's biggest model proves that it's worth believing in yourself and persistently pursuing your dreams. Her case has shown that you don't have to have a perfect wasp waist to make a career in front of the camera. Tess Holliday began to break barriers as an XXL model, took part in many advertising campaigns, appeared on the covers of various magazines, and became an ambassador of curvy women. She calls herself a "body positive activist" and proudly refers to the term plus size. Some time ago she shocked many by admitting to having an eating disorder and speaking out about anorexia. What did she have to say? And how did she manage to make a career out of it even though in the eyes of others she had no chance?

Tess Holliday's Childhood

Tess Holliday was born Ryann Maegen Hoven in the town of Laurel, Mississippi, and was raised there. She did not have an easy childhood. Her mother left her father when Tess was a small child. The model claims that her family moved about 40 times before she turned 10 years old. According to information, Tess's mother was shot twice in the head by her then-fiancé in 1995. The man was charged with attempted murder, and the woman was left paralyzed and disabled. While she was recovering, little Tess and her brother lived with their grandparents for a time. Because of her appearance and family situation, Holliday was bullied at school. She was much heavier than her peers, had pale skin, and a mom with a disability with whom she lived in a trailer under her grandparents' house. Teenage times were difficult for her and other kids were quite unforgiving. Tess' weight being higher than others her age meant that she faced a lot of unpleasantness from immediate family members as well. Holliday confessed that her father repeatedly ridiculed and humiliated her over her size. Fortunately, she could count on a loving and supportive mother who encouraged her to become a model.

Trying to make dreams come true

Tess wanted to become a professional model as early as the age of 15. That's when she started applying for more castings and sending her photos to different agencies. However, her height and weight were a big obstacle. At one casting call for plus-size models in Atlanta, she was even told that she would be really lucky if someone decided to put her picture in ads and catalogs because she was too short and too big. However, the future celebrity knew what she wanted and was not going to give up so easily. She lived in Seattle for a while, where she worked as a makeup artist, hairstylist, and creative director for fashion shows. However, she still had a long way to go before she became popular, although she did get lucky in the end.

Breakthrough moment

At the age of 20, Tess became pregnant, returned to Mississippi, and gave birth to her first son. She lived in the family home for a while. She later moved back to Seattle, and when she took some photos for her then-boyfriend, she decided to post them on Model Mayhem. In 2010, she moved to Los Angeles, where she gained confidence. She got a job as a receptionist in a dental office and in the meantime, she tried to get noticed by agencies. She finally succeeded and became a professional model in 2011. She established cooperation with Torrid agency, which responded to her application and accepted her. Moreover, at the same time, A&E chose her to be the face of the documentary TV series "Heavy", which was dedicated to people with obesity. Not only did she become the face of the TV show, but she also appeared in a commercial, not only broadcast nationwide but also shown on billboards. Her life changed then - more collaborations started flowing to her. And through self-confidence and acceptance of her own body, she gained recognition and many female followers.

Recognition and popularity of Holliday

Tess Holliday, 36, is a professional and sought-after plus-size model. Some time ago she signed a contract with a prestigious agency as the first bigger woman, which so far has only hired skinny ladies. Tess is also one of the most committed "body-positive activists". Years ago she confessed that she accepts the word "fat" without any problems and advocates that people should be able to eat as much as they want without suffering social ostracism. Growing recognition allowed Tess to popularize her own #effyourbeautystandards movement on Instagram in 2013. The model has a specific message for everyone. She says the movement shows women that size, age, skin color, and other characteristics shouldn't affect how they judge themselves. I want women to know that they don't have to be a certain size to love their bodies and that their size should not dictate their fashion choices.

Breaking down barriers in the fashion industry

When professional modeling matters began to take off, Tess gave up her job as a receptionist in 2014 and fully dedicated herself to modeling. She began breaking barriers in the industry with her persona. Although she caused a stir in the fashion world, she was quickly noticed by the editors of Vogue. The magazine recognized her as one of the six "most influential XXL models in the world." In many of the advertising campaigns and agencies she worked with, she was the first woman of such a large size. Weighing about 20st 6lb at 165 cm tall, Tess made a real furor in the fashion world. She managed to appear in such magazines as Vogue Italia, Nylon Magazine, Marie Claire or People, and many others.

Her weight is causing controversy

Of course, along with the popularity, the controversy that Tess Holliday is causing due to her weight has not ended at all. Along with the millions of followers, there have also come many who do not like what they see. Many people are of the opinion that Tess is morbidly obese and her appearance and convincing people to love themselves at any size is promoting obesity. However, the model does her job and continues to prove that a person of a larger size should not be discriminated against. On this and other topics related to her bigger weight, she has drawn attention countless times, speaking out publicly. For example, she touted society's double standards after the dress she wore to the Grammy Awards in January 2020 was met with heckling, and Tess ended up on a list of the worst-dressed celebrities. However, when several slim women later wore the same dress, the creation suddenly became a hit. An excerpt of Tess's words read: "This is a perfect example of the exclusion that plus size and fat people face in the fashion world. We are never seen as trendy or phenomenal or anything like that. People push us away. Why does it take someone with a slim figure for people to start acting like they saw that strawberry dress for the first time? (...) Now, because a couple of skinny people showed it on TikTok, everyone paid attention to it. Bottom line - our society hates fat people, especially when we're winning."

Tess Holliday has revealed that she struggles with an eating disorder

In the first half of 2021, Holliday again addressed self-acceptance and revealed that she struggles with an eating disorder. Weight loss has different faces. Many people make fully conscious and voluntary dietary changes, but others succumb to the pressure of imposed ideals. There are those for whom it is a trap that can lead to mental problems and eating disorders. On her Instagram, she wrote: "I dedicate this post to every chubby child who has never eaten a bite in their life without shame. To every person who has been ridiculed and humiliated for dancing, for exercising, for daring to love and live. Every person who never had the chance to have a healthy relationship with food, because society condemned and closely watched her every step. (...) I dedicate this post to all the people who were starving themselves, overeating, falling into the vicious circle of a destructive diet. To people for whom food, sports, and the concept of health have been hell rather than taking care of themselves as they should be." Tess shared her own thoughts on the subject and admitted her struggle with anorexia. "My illness is a result of a culture that celebrates thinness and makes it a value, but now I'm going to lead the narrative on this topic myself. I am finally able to take care of my body, which I have been punishing my entire life. I am finally free." - The model wrote on her social media. What else did she have to say on the subject?

Tess Holliday on anorexia

In her post, she emphasized that she is present for people like her, for their stories that have been invisible to society for so long. She also directed observers' attention to a post about "atypical anorexia" because although we usually associate anorexia with very skinny people, this is not always the case. Appearance and weight are not related to what is going on in the psyche. As you can read: "It is commonly believed that there is a clear correlation between BMI (body mass index) and severity of anorexia, that the lower the BMI, the worse the anorexia. Such a simplistic concept is dangerous. Research shows that atypical anorexia is just as common. People with atypical anorexia are less likely to receive timely treatment, making them sicker longer, and this makes recovery more difficult." She also appealed to people not to comment on her weight and to keep their comments to themselves. She addressed her followers saying: "To every person who says: 'You look healthy lately' or 'You've lost weight, keep it up! Stop it! Don't comment on my weight, keep it to yourself. Yes, I have lost weight - I am being treated for an eating disorder and I am feeding my body regularly for the first time in my entire life. When you equate "health" and someone's size, it's like you're directly saying that I'm more valuable now because I'm thinner and fit into the prevailing food culture. It's pointless, I'm not here for that." In an effort to make others aware, she also pointed out that people like her are trying to work through the relationship with their bodies and health, hearing comments about weight is very difficult and sets you back in the whole process. She also added " when people are working on themselves, comments like the ones you send me hurt THEM, not just me. I can take it, but they don't need the extra trauma, ok? If you can't tell someone they look nice without adding something about their size, please, honey, you better not say anything at all."

The private life of the XXL model

The 36-year-old Tess, in addition to being a famous XXL model changing standards and being a voice for many people struggling with larger body size privately is a mom of two. As we mentioned earlier, at the age of 20, Holliday gave birth to her son Rylee. She has not publicly confessed who the father of her child is, nor has she revealed under what circumstances they met or how long they were a couple. In one of the interviews, she confessed that she does not maintain any contact with her former partner. In 2012, she met an Australian businessman, photographer, and artist, Nick Holliday, online. Before their first meeting, they exchanged messages via social media for several months. They got engaged in 2014, and a year later, they became married in a ceremony kept secret. Not long after, it was revealed that Tess was pregnant. In June 2016, her second son, Bowie, was born. The model's marriage lasted 5 years, with a divorce in 2020. Her sons, especially the younger Bowie, quite often guest on her Instagram, which currently has more than 2.3 million followers.

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