Tess Holliday Speaks Out About Her Eating Disorder

Tess Holliday made history as the first plus-size model signed by a major modeling agency (via Deadline). She also started the body positivity campaign #effyourbeautystandards (EYBS) on her Instagram in 2013, per People. But as confident and secure as one may seem on social media, that doesn’t always translate to confidence behind the scenes. In May 2021, the model opened up with candid vulnerability about her eating disorder.

Holliday tweeted, “I’m anorexic & in recovery. I’m not ashamed to say it out loud anymore. I’m the result of a culture that celebrates thinness & equates that to worth, but I get to write my own narrative now. I’m finally able to care for a body that I’ve punished my entire life & I am finally free.”

In an ideal world, it would go without saying, but she had to remind people to avoid commenting on others’ size, particularly hers. In a post on Instagram, she wrote, “To everyone that keeps saying ‘you’re looking healthy lately’ or ‘You are losing weight, keep it up!’ Stop. Don’t. Comment. On. My. Weight. Or. Perceived. Health. Keep. It. To. Yourself. Thanks”.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA’s Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

Tess Holliday is 'not here' for people who perpetuate diet culture

On Instagram, Tess Holliday highlighted the unhealthy standard of equating size to health and value: “Yes, I’ve lost weight — I’m healing from an eating disorder & feeding my body regularly for the first time in my entire life,” she wrote in an Instagram post. When you equate weight loss with ‘health’ & place value & worth on someone’s size, you are basically saying that we are more valuable now because we are smaller & perpetuating diet culture … & that’s corny as hell. NOT here for it.”

The model and activist finished her post reminding people that commenting on someone’s size is never helpful, and it’s particularly damaging to anyone with an eating disorder. “For folks like me that are trying to reframe our relationships with our bodies & heal, hearing comments about weight is triggering as hell,” she explained. “It sets us back in our progress — and when people working on themselves see you commenting to me that way, it hurts THEM, not just me.”

Although Holliday said that she can handle the remarks, she doesn’t want her fans to be forced to. “If you can’t tell someone they look nice without making it about their size, then baby, please don’t say nuthin at all,” she continued. Instagram commenters sent love her way. One wrote, in part, “Thank you for this caption. So many people need to hear this.”

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