The last few weeks have brought a lot of plus-size modeling news, including Sports Illustrated‘s feature with size 12 beauty Robyn Lawley and Target’s plans to include plus size pieces in its upcoming collaboration with Lilly Pulitzer. Now, the latest curvy girl everyone’s buzzing about is Tess Holliday. The 29-year-old, 5’5, size 22 Instagram sensation has just became largest woman to be signed to a major modeling company after inking a deal with UK agency, Milk.
Following years of traumatic bullying in school, Tess first took to social media to share her #OOTD photos, beauty routine, and a look inside her life. Quickly she began attracting the attention of Instagram users–today she counts a whopping 475,000 followers—and then the modeling industry followed.
However, within hours of announcing her deal with Milk, Holliday became the target of some seriously nasty backlash. People have been taking to Twitter and Instagram to berate the curvy babe’s body positive message and call her out on promoting—wait for it—an unhealthy image. Oh, the irony.
While negative comments on Holliday’s Instagram are quickly deleted, she did respond publicly to the haters, and her message is kind of perfect—just scan the caption to get an idea of how she retaliated.
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The mass amount of attention I've received the past few days has been astounding.. & the side I've seen of people, women who I thought were "friends".. & supporters has been heartbreaking. You can't fault me for wearing makeup, corsets or for using the term "beauty" in my movement.. Or simply discussing or not discussing "health", Saying I'm not body positive or a feminist for those reasons & criticizing me for my CHOICE to express myself goes against everything feminism is. Why don't I deserve the same support I've shown others? Why are women so mad that I'm talking about being body positive & truly practice what I preach to the best of my ability? Are we really that self consumed that we can stop ourselves from kicking someone when they are down? I have been bullied & beaten my whole life for my appearance & size.. & if you haven't noticed I still am today. I haven't always looked "glamorous" and I have talked about that & shown it in photos. It doesn't make me less deserving of the success I've had and worked hard for because I'm a "pretty fat girl". I'm a professional model, and it's part of my job.. I show all sides of my life & honestly I'm tired of the bullshit. Don't get pissed at someone for doing the best they can. Focus on yourself for the love of kittens. P.s I'm drying my tears & wearing a corset because it's my choice, & this is the last time I'm addressing any of this because again.. It's my CHOICE.
“Why are women so mad that I’m talking about being body positive and truly practice what I preach to the best of my ability? … It doesn’t make me less deserving of the success I’ve had and worked hard for because I’m a ‘pretty fat girl,’ Holliday wrote, adding, “I’m a professional model.”
Holliday spoke about the backlash and bullying on Friday, appearing as a guest on Meredith Viera‘s talk show. Comparing her time being bullied in school to the trolling she experiences now online, the model said that “thousands of people” don’t support what she’s doing, and the bullying is just as harsh now as in school.
“No one tells you that when you get older sometimes you never escape the bullying, it says with you, and now with social media it’s more prevalent.”
“I was trying to live my dream, who would think that someone would criticize me for wanting to be myself. I had no idea that people could be as mean as they are when you’re an adult,” she continued.
To those criticizing Holliday for glamorizing an unhealthy lifestyle, she says health is personal and dependent on the individual, and that her size doesn’t give people a legitimate excuse to abuse her.
“Health is everyone’s personal decision. It’s their choice and I think that should be respected. There are a lot of reasons people are over or underweight. We’re all at different places in our journey,” she said. “I think it’s crap that I can’t do something amazing and be celebrated and have people talk about the changes I’m making instead of focusing on my size. It infuriates me.”