Plus-Size Model Tess Holliday on Fat Acceptance, Her First Book, and Her Rape

At this point in her career, it’s fair to say that Tess Holliday isn’t just a plus-size model; she’s a movement. Holliday recently debuted her first book and spoke about how she turned the fat-positive community on its head.

Full disclosure: we’ve pretty much been waiting for Holliday to write a memoir since we first spotted her on Instagram. And now our dreams are finally coming true! Tess is dropping her first book The Not So Subtle Art of Being A Fat Girl and we have a feeling we’re not the only ones who are excited.

Tess pretty much ignited a fire in the body positive movement, starting the viral hashtag #EffYourBeautyStandards, which is now so popular that is has a few more variations. At the time that she started using the hashtag, it was purely out of anger but she soon learned it was so much more than that. She told Refinery29 UK,

“I realized I wasn’t the only person going through what I was, and that I had people in my life who understood. I just thought there must be other people around the world who understand how it feels to want to be who you are and wear what you want in a world that says you have to look a certain way to feel beautiful – how sad and lonely that can feel.”

The hashtag has since launched the eponymous IG handle that has more than 362K followers alone. And of course, there are other individuals who have adopted the term for themselves. A search on Insta will result in nearly 2.5 million results.

She — along with journalist Lindy West — has also been a huge advocate of destigmatizing the word “fat,” a controversial move, to say the least.

“I am fat, it’s just the reality, and I think if we can de-stigmatize that word it will make people feel less uncomfortable. Hopefully, my book reaches a lot of people that identify with it and start to see it’s just an adjective. They don’t have to be ashamed or hide because, if you call yourself curvy and you are still fat, language really doesn’t matter. Some people may never get that, and it’s okay – for me, it’s how I feel most comfortable referring to myself.”

In addition to fat acceptance, Holliday’s new book covers a range of issues including postpartum depression, breastfeeding (she’s even since started the new hashtag #NormalizeBreastfeeding), her childhood, and her rape.

She told Grazia,

“I wanted to include [the rape] to remove the shame and show women rape is never their fault. This guy told me he’d either assault me or kill me, but at the time I didn’t view it as rape because I thought, ‘I let him do it’.”

The Not So Subtle Art of Being A Fat Girl: Loving the Skin You’re In is currently available in the U.K and is coming to the U.S. September 26.


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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.