Size 22 Model Tess Holliday: “I want to challenge society’s perception of “beauty””

288C5D8C00000578-3076396-The_29_year_old_said_There_is_no_one_way_to_be_a_woman_or_to_be_-a-2_1431338506233 - Size 22 Model Tess Holliday: "I want to challenge society's perception of "beauty""

Social media personality Tess Holliday (Tess Munster), who describes herself as a ‘body positive activist’ is famous for her pin-up style photos and fir her Instagram movement called #effyourbeautystandards – and recently, Tess (who is a size 22 US at 5’4”) became the largest plus-size model to be signed by a modeling agency (MiLK).

Here are a few quotes from Tess:

On beauty diversity:

‘I think if someone doesn’t look at an image and feel something, you haven’t done your job. Whether it’s a negative or positive, it should evoke something in them. That’s what I’ve always done with my work, I want to challenge society’s perception of “beauty” and what’s acceptable in our industry and the world. There is no one way to be a woman, or to be beautiful. We all deserve a place.’

On becoming a model at her size:

I went to a casting when I was 15 but I was told I was too short and too big. I was a US size 16 (UK 18/20) and I’m 5ft 4in. It was a little discouraging – I stopped trying to pursue modelling and it was only when I retrained as a makeup artist, working at fashion shows, that I started getting interested again. The truth is, I didn’t want to do anything else. I was never tempted to lose weight. Everyone around me was on Weight Watchers, but it never appealed to me. I have never been one for changing yourself to make someone happy. Everyone said I had a pretty face, so it seemed possible. I just didn’t know there was such a thing as a plus-size model. It was only when I saw a picture of Mia Tyler [one of the first plus-size models in the 1990s] that I realized I could. I am lucky that I have a supportive family, partner and friends. That I got signed? Well, the reaction has been overwhelming.

On being heavily criticized:

I got a lot of comments on Twitter, Instagram, even some letters. Some people were excited, some people called me fat and said I was too big to be a model. I spent a long time fielding through the reactions. Ultimately, in my eyes, my being signed is changing an industry that needed to be changed.

See many more!

288C5D7300000578-3076396-Tess_shows_off_her_intricate_body_art_in_this_arty_black_and_whi-a-3_1431338508849 - Size 22 Model Tess Holliday: "I want to challenge society's perception of "beauty"" 288C5DE200000578-0-image-a-10_1431335050224 - Size 22 Model Tess Holliday: "I want to challenge society's perception of "beauty"" 288C5DEE00000578-0-image-a-21_1431335347661 - Size 22 Model Tess Holliday: "I want to challenge society's perception of "beauty"" 288C5DF200000578-0-image-a-11_1431335115763 - Size 22 Model Tess Holliday: "I want to challenge society's perception of "beauty"" tess-13 - Size 22 Model Tess Holliday: "I want to challenge society's perception of "beauty"" rs_634x950-150303105750-634-2tess-holiday - Size 22 Model Tess Holliday: "I want to challenge society's perception of "beauty""

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66 thoughts on “Size 22 Model Tess Holliday: “I want to challenge society’s perception of “beauty”””

  1. She has an attractive face true, but her trying to force acceptance of very large women would be the same as forcing people to accept extremely thin anorexic women. Two things, the scale on both ends of what is an acceptable weight for ‘thin’ women and ‘large’ women is ridiculously skewed now. For some reason women that 10-20 years were considered too thin are now acceptable. Conversely women who were considered fat a number of years ago are now ‘normal.’ We are living in a world that thrives off of total opposite ends of the spectrum and somehow celebrates it. We need to move back to more realistic definitions of normal again. A size 14 should not be a normal size nor should we try to celebrate women aspiring to be a size zero. It almost seems like the world has forgotten about 6-8 women healthy but certainly not skinny. To make a long story short her facial beauty is undeniable but her body make-up should in no way be celebrated.

      • But remember Tess has a big social media following, which offers an excellent potential client base (and ready-made promotion) for the companies she’d work with. She would be hired for her ‘celebrity’ status, not because of her size.

      • So true, unless you happen to go into acting some truly beautiful women in the 4-6-8 range can’t get into modeling. They are ‘too big’ for standard modeling and ‘too small’ for plus size modeling. I think the up and coming niche is fitness modeling where a lot of the women are in that range, but of course they tend to have athletic bodies not fit soft and curvy bodies.

    • Agree, I don’t like either extreme looks. A size 2-4 is my ideal, curvy yet think and healthy. Or whatever is natural to someone. But being obese is certainly not natural, that is just an excuse. I can sorta understand how someone can get a little overweight, but never this big.

  2. You can challenge society’s perception of beauty, but you have to be conscious that you can’t challenge society’s perception of health.

    • True. Her statements sound more like a performance artist to me– trying to evoke a feeling and a reaction. In that sense, I understand it more, that she’s performing, than that she’s modeling clothing. I could see her as a beauty model, though.

      I agree with you that you can’t challenge health perceptions, I wonder if she’ll ever make any statements on health. She hasn’t claimed to be healthy here. Maybe she doesn’t care.

      • Yes, you’re completely right. But I think that even if she hasn’t claimed to be healthy, she is a public person and she thinks at herself as a “body positive activist”. Being morbidly obese has nothing to do with beauty, but only with health.

        • to her credit, her son (she has pictures of him on her instagram) looks like he’s a healthy, normal-weight kid. i think it’s a good indicator that, no matter what she preaches, she realizes that it’s healthier to be at a normal weight

  3. I’m sure she has a lot of emotional, self esteem, and health issues. I wonder if countries like France would ban a model like her? She obviously has an eating disorder and needs serious help. But will she be treated as unfairly as slightly underweight healthy and fit models who don’t have eating disorders? Or women who have slimness in ther genetics?

  4. Well, i’m sorry to say this but her “image” is certainly not promoting an healthy lifestyle…… She has a nice face but her body screams morbid obesity to me.

    There is nothing to blame on the modeling industry, they provide what most of the public wants : slander figures. Look at the Hadid sisters, Kendall Jenner etc… these girls are not skinny but muscular and healthy. The industry is changing BECAUSE women want it to.

    This “model” here is purely and simply obese.

    • I wouldn’t say Kendall is muscular. She seems like your typical skinny teen. Doutzen is what I’d call muscular.

      • I’d call Doutzen toned and lean… But I’d call Pink (when she was touring last) muscular and lean… It’s funny how prone see the same person’s body differently.

    • Agreed. Which makes it ridiculous to hear certain posters here claim that Kate Upton is also ‘morbidly obese’ because she happens to be apple shaped.

  5. every fat girl with a pretty face considers she can be a model.
    Yes i guess they can model for plus size clothes and also be a face model but they should stop wanting us the rest of the world consider that being fat is good. All fat people are fat because they have an addiction: food. They should admit it.

    • I guess you are the type of person that considers people with BMI around 25 as “fat”? Sorry mate, but there are people who are a little overweight despite their healthy lifestyle, and they are because of hypothyreosis. Even with medication, eating low carb (Logi), watching calory intake (below 2000 or 1500 calories a day) and normal activity, a lot of hashimoto sufferers have slight overweight. You can´t just go on a 1000 calory diet with hypothyreosis and do a lot of endurance sports, because this would lower your free thyroid hormones drastically. This condition changes completely one’s metabolism and medication is often insufficient. And another example, with Cushings syndrome you can be morbidly obese with eating les than 1000 calories a day. Admittedly, this condition is rare, but hypothyreosis is very common.

      • Hmm most of American society is all of a sudden going to be fat in the future..ahem I mean, most of Americans will have glandular conditions not because we overeat and under-exercises and make poor choices. This woman’s body will be more and more normal instead of the outlier. and so we should celebrate it because of this. And oh genetics. Don’t forget genetics. It’s all glandular conditions and genetics. Because science.

    • That is such an ignorant pigheaded thing to say. Maybe if you did your research you would know that Genetics play a large role in someones size.Just because someone is bigger than you does not mean that they have an eating disorder. Some bigger people might develop an eating disorder because of people like You who can’t learn to try to accept someone for who they are. Maybe they want to lose weight but it’s not like they can pop their head off and switch bodies with someone like a Lego character. And finally, Just because there are plus sized women in this world who model does NOT mean that they want everyone to glorify fat and fatty foods like Mcdonalds. You should really do more thinking and research about what you’re going to say before you say it.

  6. There’s nothing ‘beautiful’ about what she’s doing to her own body. Yes, humans come in all different shapes and sizes and that’s beautiful, but this is clearly not anyone’s natural shape. It is a product of self inflicted factors like really bad eating habits and lack of exercise.

    People like her need to realise eating unconsciously and constantly can become almost as harmful as excessive use of drugs and alcohol to one’s body and there’s no glory in promoting that to anyone.

    • Mmhmm. If you put on weight easily, that’s your struggle in life, everyone has one. Better to accept the struggle rather than the weight and try to be healthy…

      • I agree completely, and I’m not implying by any means that every person can maintain a similar shape and size, nor should they have to. But she can’t really convince me that the pressure of that extra weight on her joints and bones is not harder than the struggle to keep within a healthy range of weight.

  7. She has a pretty face, but this is too much. You can be beautiful regardless of the weight, but is that really the most important thing? I think health goes first and she is just so morbidly obese that she has to have a significant risk to catch an illness from the metabolic group. I think this size is where I draw the line – there are people this size and caliber, but this doesn’t need to be in anyway glorified. I think it’s too much to whine about some size 14 model encouraging obesity, but a size 22 is too much. It is a fact that you need to love yourself in order to make permanent changes in your lifestyle, but to say that “you’re beautiful the way you are” is not an “excuse”. Let’s be real, many people think that she is too big and fat, nothing attracting there, she may like herself the way she is, that is okay, and her man/men may like how she looks, but seriously. No need for this imo.

  8. im sorry but no. her legs are so fat and amorphous that in the first picture, it looks like the front of her legs are the back of her legs. that is bizarre.

  9. She is morbidly obese, she looks sick, but that’s not the reason why I dislike her. I’ve seen stuff about her before, and from what I can tell she’s a hypocritical body shamer. Tess, you can scream F your beauty standards a million times, but in the end health standards won’t change and your size is just not healthy.

  10. Well, what even is a model? It’s getting confusing. People always seem to bring up the “models shouldn’t be ordinary”, “models should work hard to fit to an extra-ordinary beauty ideal” or “models should be health role models/healthy” arguments.
    But according to Wikipedia, a model is simply:
    “[…] a person in a role to promote, display, or advertise commercial
    products or to serve as a visual aide for people who are creating works
    of art”.
    So, as long as there is someone who thinks you can help them sell their products, or someone who thinks you fit their creative vision, you cannot be “too big to be a model”.
    Obviously Tess doesn’t fit into the “fit and slim” beauty norm, let alone into the fashion industry’s “childlike, androgynous and sickly looking” beauty norm, but noone said she had too. I can imagine the kind of hate she’s getting under the guise of concern – about her health or the bad example she’s setting. The truth is, her health is nobody’s business. If you want to bash obese people for being unhealthy, you can just about bash anyone with a health condition and demand they stop working in a job that makes them visible, because they make being ill seem okay. That is stigmatizing and not cool. Tess is working in a niche where having a fit, healthy, slim figure is not a requirement and as long as she’s able to get up and go to shoots it’s nobody’s place to tell her she shouldn’t model.
    Beside I think her face is rather beautiful. Reminds me slightly of Ebba Zingmark.

    • Her health is everyone’s business if she’s trying to push it on us as ideal. This isn’t some regular job where people will simply see her, this is modelling, where she is actively trying to get people to accept morbd obesity so your comparison makes no sense. She is not healthy, plain and simple. If people want to use her to sell products, that’s fine but people should still know this is not ok. Kind of like selling packs of cigarettes with cancer warnings all over them. A lot of people are sadly impressionable.

    • She also doesn’t fit the plus size model mold. She fits no model mold. I don’t even understand the marketing jnvolved– how many people at 5’4″ size 22 are out walking around looking at clothing advertisements?

  11. There’s a difference between society’s standards of beauty and innate standards. Obese women can campaign for a million years and they won’t be seen as beautiful or ideal. Now whether somebody thinks Beyoncé or gisele is more beatiful that’s up to society’s influence. Certain things change like the ideal skin color, and even the ideal body type. But it always ranges from skinny to normal weight and curvy. Never huge. Marilyn Monroe was slim and curvy.

  12. And one more thing: I don’t know about this woman’s attitude , but speaking for myself, I don’t think plus-size modeling is so much about making people change their views on what is beautiful and healthy (not going to happen anytime soon), but more so about cherishing the idea of acceptance. I feel the problem our society has is not that fat people aren’t an aesthetic ideal, but that their bodies are an absolute taboo. There’s a big difference between acknowledging that someone’s figure is not healthy or aesthetically pleasing (to most) and declaring their figure inacceptable. This is what is happening. I feel that although large parts of the population are overweight, obesity is one of the biggest no-goes. Woe to those who dare to make an obese person feel like their bodies are acceptable in the state their in. I think this is so disturbing and not helping eating disorders at either end of the spectrum AT ALL.

  13. I have a sister who’s wearing a size 22 and she is a lot skinnier than this model.
    So I highly doubt her size.

    As long as she doesnt promote herself as healthy, I dont see a problem.
    I think its totally fine if she likes herself the way she is, but I think she should tell about the risks of a weight like that now and then.
    This weight shouldnt be the “goal” of anyone.
    And if you have fatrolls on your knees, its not your natural/healthy body anymore.
    I’m not judging her or anyone this size, but they should be honest to themselfes.

  14. I don’t care for her modelling, it doesn’t bother me. I just think that behind this is pure laziness and pure lack of self-control.

  15. Welllll people her size also wear clothes and would like to see them on a model I’m sure. It’s not like people are going to look at her and try to get fat on purpose. C’mon people.

  16. Seriously though, I can’t imagine what being that big must feel like. Doesn’t she have trouble with basic movements like sitting and getting up? Doesn’t she get tired walking very quickly? Isn’t any movement you do generally more uncomfortable and phlegmatic?
    Why does it seem like you can be a model these days if you are a size 0-2 or 22 but not if you are a size 6 or 8?
    Also, don’t people like her understand that you can’t just CHANGE people’s perception of beauty because they are somewhat linked biologically to the idea of health? You should find against discrimination, sure, but you can’t MAKE people find beautiful extremes that are very much likely to be unhealthy (and no, I am not her doctor).

  17. She has a beautiful face but this isn’t HEALTHY!
    Being too thin or obese are 2 extremes that SHOULD NOT be symbols of beauty or health…This is ridiculous.

    • Why should models be “symbols of beauty or health”? Shouldn’t they just be showing us what clothing looks like?

  18. On the positive side, it’s good to see someone shorter (and not those girls classed as ‘model-short’ but really 5″7) getting attention for modelling. It’s not like she’ll be going down the runway, so why not show more diversity in height in editorials?

    She does have a beautiful face, lovely hair and relatively smooth skin for her size. I think her personality also really shines in photos.

    That said, stats say that 1/3 of US adults are obese (source: http://stateofobesity.org/obesity-rates-trends-overview/). The majority of people in the country are overweight or obese, so it’s not surprising that we’re seeing so many more plus-sized models (Ashley Graham et al).

  19. Well, I’m not sure why the height matters so much for non-runway modelling. The Internet is opening up a lot of things and we may see more shorter girls modelling in successful blogs in future, if not in ‘mainstream’ fashion. Tess is an Internet personality of sorts, not a regular Jane. It’s similar to Scarlett Johannson or Megan Fox (both 5″4) modelling – it’s more about their celebrity than their heights.

  20. Twiggy was only 5″4, so it has happened. Also Kate Moss was only 5″6…

    Modelling isn’t very lucrative unless you’re a big star. For every Kloss there’s ten thousand other tall girls not making enough to survive on it full time.

  21. The funny thing is she says she wants to challenge “beauty perceptions” however she conforms every single norm except for weight. She has nice hair, make up, and clothes on in every photo I’ve seen of her. So her quote about that sounds pretty phony to me. I don’t have a problem with diversity in the fashion world, but Tess is just plain unhealthy.

    • Yes, I understand that. Clearly, people do have strong reactions to this, so she’s achieved her goal. I just mean that I personally don’t get it. I don’t see the point in being scandalized by something that doesn’t affect me at all. Her body, her business.

      IMO, well-adjusted people don’t get riled up about things like this.

  22. But all this ”its ok, its the world that has to accept the aestethic!” is pure simple crazy MADNESS.

    Ohhhhhhh AMENN

  23. Beautiful? Sure. Unhealthy? Absolutely. Who would want to be this unhealthy? I bet she’d try to feed me that she eats healthy and leads a fit life. That would be a lie.

  24. Well.. Just as anorexia and purposely being underweight shouldn’t be promoted, neither should obesity.. It’s just dumb..

  25. She looks like a bad photoshop job.. I know its horrible to say but it just looks so unnatural- like her face and her body don’t belong together

  26. Surely the whole idea of a model is to encapsulate what the average woman considers to be an idealised version of herself. Most women want to be them but 10 pounds lighter, younger, tanner, smarter etc. How will she appeal/ connect with people? Even the morbidly obese surely do not WANT to be morbidly obese and would be much more likely to buy clothes modelled on a healthier looking plus size model

  27. If she’s so proud of her size, why does she wear high-heels? I thought women wore those so that they could appear thinner. Well, the whole thing is ridiculous.

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