We're borderline obsessed with Tess Holliday - the 29-year old plus size model, body confidence activist, feminist and all-round badass. Say hi to your new beauty icon...
She’s redefining fashion industry standards
As a rule, plus side models tend to be in the size 10-16 range. As a UK size 24, Tess is the first plus size model of her size to be signed by Milk model agency in fact by most of the main modeling agencies. Go team!
She plays by her own rules
Her real name is Ryann Hoven, which she changed to Tess Munster (because she loved the TV show The Munsters) and now she’s Holliday, after taking her fiancé’s name. We wouldn’t care if she was called flibblemcthingywhatsit – we’d still love her.
Life hasn’t been easy for her
She grew up in the southern US, and her family moved about constantly (in a Guardian Weekend interview she estimates it was around 40 times before she was 10). When Tess was nine, her mother was shot twice in the head by her fiancé who subsequently was charged with attempted murder. Tess and her brother had to move into a trailer in her grandparents back garden whilst her mother – who is still paralysed – recovered.
She refuses to be just a number
After various discussions about what ‘size’ she really is (she’s been credited as everything from a 18-26) Tess took to Instagram to post pictures of her clothing labels showing a range of sizes and saying that her size ‘doesn’t define me.’
She speaks without thinking, like the rest of us do
In fact she’s so honest it’s landed her in a spot of bother. In a Guardian Weekend interview she was quoted at saying on set (after being ‘cat called by an older black man’): “I do admit that black men love me. I always forget that, and then I come to a black neighborhood and I remember.” After online criticism, Tess posted an apology on Facebook saying she was sorry for ‘any hurt that my flippant comment has caused.” Job done, let’s leave it there.
She’s cool about the word fat
In fact she’s quoted as saying she embraces it: “To me it’s just a word, but it wasn’t until I discovered the body positive community that I became OK with it. I’ve been called fat my whole life,” she says. “I am fat, so it’s kind of silly to get mad about it.”
To a nine-year-old son called Rilee whom she had with a boyfriend when she was 20 and working in Walmart.
They met online when Nick Holliday (an Australian fan) commented on one of her pictures. Tess has said: “I was like, this guy’s never going to give me a chance in hell because he’s so hot. Because I’ve never really had good-looking boyfriends before. My friends would always tell me, ‘There’s no way you’re going to get a nice guy and a hot guy – you’re fat, you need to settle for one or the other.’ I told them, I deserve both.” We couldn’t agree more.
Tess has appeared in Nylon and was on the cover of People magazine in the US. She’s shot a campaign for Benefit cosmetics, and has something special project coming up with noted photographer David LaChapelle. Pretty decent considering she was working in a dental office last year.
She’s killing it on Instagram
She’s got 876k followers who adore her. And she’s started a social media campaign called #effyourbeautystandards which is aimed at redefining how we see women and beauty. Go Tess, we’re right behind you, and the view is glorious.
Image credit: Tess Holliday Instagram @tessholliday