By Tess Holliday
I was the first size-22 model to be signed with a major agency. We still need to see more women of all shapes, sizes, and races reflected in the media — so everyone can recognize their own worth.
always joke that Miss Piggy was my role model growing up — but it’s actually
true. There weren’t many women out there that I could look up to who were
overweight, confident, and unapologetically glamorous the way she was. And for
many women, finding a hero in pop culture who looks like them is still a
struggle: 69% of women
agree that they don’t see themselves reflected in advertisements, movies, or television.
I’m part of one of those under-represented, unseen groups: plus-size women. And I’m incredibly proud to be the first woman of my size (size 22) to be signed to a major modeling agency, and recognize that it was a milestone for an industry that is typically focused on thinness.
But right now, even in the plus-size part
of the modeling world, there isn’t a ton of diversity in body shapes. Most
plus-size models are taller than 5'8”, a size 10 or 12, and have an hourglass
shape. Where are the other bodies with the shape of a blueberry, like mine? And
where are the women with small busts or small butts?
Change will only come, to models and beyond, if women keep demanding it. 74% of women told Dove researchers they believe more needs to be done to change the definition of beauty to be more inclusive, especially of different sizes and shapes.
I agree that this is crucial. When a person who’s struggling with body image issues sees someone who looks like them in a movie, in an advertising campaign, or being celebrated on social media, it’s like they get their own stamp of approval. They start to know their own power and importance. Cathleen Meredith, the woman behind the Fat Girls Dance movement, is one person standing up for proud body diversity: In her video for Real Beauty Productions, she encourages women of all sizes to dance uninhibitedly.
It’s so important to show
plus-size women doing things that we’re told we can’t or shouldn’t do, without
In the meantime, for anyone out there fighting the body image battle, remember that body positivity is not a destination, it’s a journey. I still have days when I look in the mirror and I don’t feel great. My second child is one year old, and as I write in my new book, "The Not So Subtle Art of Being A Fat Girl: Loving the Skin You’re In," I’m still trying to relearn to how to love myself. But I always remind myself — and now, all of you: Everyone deserves to feel loved and beautiful.
Tess Holliday is the plus-size supermodel behind the
#effyourbeautystandards body positivity movement and author of "The Not So Subtle Art
of Being A Fat Girl: Loving the Skin You're In" (Welden Owen), available in September 2017.