Body Positive Activist/Model Tess Holliday: 'I Will Continue to Live Unapologetically'

In a sea of body positivity, model Tess Holliday is certainly the star.

The plus-size model, a size 22 to be exact, has always been one of the most upbeat and confident in her body, an attitude that’s only recently become popular. When everyone else when drooling over the body of Cara Delevingne, Tess was busy starting the “Eff Your Beauty Standard” movement, which encourages women to celebrate their bodies how they are. There’s even a whole IG account dedicated to the mission, in addition to the hashtag.

Tess, who’s been featured by People Magazine and Vogue Italia, hasn’t had an easy road to success, needless to say. She’s currently signed to Milk management, a decision, she says, that changed her life. Since being represented by the agency, she’s appeared in campaigns for H&M, Addition ELLE, Torrid, Benefit Cosmetics, and more.

milk makeup

Unlike some others who resent the plus-size label, Tess is grateful to represent big girls.

She told The Cut,

“I don’t understand why it’s not okay to be plus-size. I don’t know why people hate that phrase. Many models have built their careers as plus-size women and then suddenly don’t want to be called that anymore. But you’re still cashing checks from plus-size designers.”

She added,

“Also, when young girls Google the term model, the first women that pop up are Gigi and Kendall. I think it’s really important for all young girls to see themselves represented in fashion so they don’t feel alone in the world.”

Though she’s been in fashion industry for over two years now, her career hasn’t gotten any easier. She stills receiving criticism, not to mention all the backlash on social media. She gave birth to her second child recently and used her pregnancy as an opportunity to celebrate her body, often posting topless selfies as a big “fuck you” to her haters.

She recently posted to Instagram,

“I will continue to live unapologetically, to thrive in this body, prove the naysayers wrong & laugh at the ignorance.”

She even received hate for the size of her pregnant body, which is, of course, nobody’s business.

When ‘celebrities’ are pregnant in the press, they look glamorous, toned & are eager to talk about how they are going to get the baby weight off. While I’ve done my best to look as put together as possible, that’s not real life, & it’s not for most women.”

Even worse, she said that people think it’s ok to comment on her body TO HER FACE telling her things like “you don’t look pregnant”, “you must be having quadruplets”, and “you are putting your baby at risk.”

What is happening in this world?

But the attention certainly isn’t all bad. She’s received plenty of support from her loyal fans and has over 1.4M followers on Instagram alone to prove it.

“I think that I have a career because I never gave up. I had to fight for everything. I was always in a position where I had to figure things out on my own. So when people told me that I couldn’t model, I just remember thinking that it was ridiculous. I felt like I had already been through the impossible.”


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Lena Finkel
Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, Tiger Beat, and Sesame Workshop (aka Sesame Street). She loves all things Real Housewives and Vanderpump Rules. When she's not busy binge-watching TV, you can find her hanging out with her tuxedo cat Tom.