Plus-Sized Model Tess Holliday Makes History on the ‘Cosmo UK’ Cover

The body-positive activist’s cover has the internet on fire.
September 10, 2018
3 mins read

It’s not shocking news to anyone that the fashion and marketing industries promote unrealistic beauty standards for consumers. But, from the lack of body diversity shown in the media, the body positivity and fat acceptance movements were born. Today, these movements still have far to go, as many people constantly shame those who range from slightly overweight to obese. 

However, large steps have been made in this community. The terms “body positivity” and “fat-shaming” have entered the common vernacular, especially within the internet community. Plus-sized entertainment figures such as Melissa McCarthy, Ashley Graham and Brittany Howard, of the band Alabama Shakes, are just some of the enormously successful role models out there. 

Today, another beautiful plus-sized model has reached a new height — Mississippi-born Tess Holliday is on the cover of the latest issue of Cosmopolitan UK. Aged 33 years old, Holliday, born Ryann Hoven, has been on the fashion scene since 2011. Previously, she has appeared in Vogue Italia, Nylon, Marie Claire and has posed naked, something often unheard of for plus-sized models. Cosmopolitan UK isn’t her first cover, either — she was on the May 2015 cover of People. The headline? “The World’s First Size 22 Supermodel!”

The 5’5″, 280-pound supermodel’s natural beauty, spunky personality and willingness to break barriers have caused her to become an important figure to many other plus-sized women. She started an Instagram hashtag called “#effyourbeautystandards,” meant to be shared by other women, of all sizes, to show that no one is too big or too small to be beautiful. She has also been open about her issues with Victoria’s Secret for not creating clothes in larger sizes. She embraces the term “plus-size” and believes that it should be supported by others, as well.

In her Instagram post promoting her cover, Holliday said, “If I saw a body like mine on this magazine when I was a young girl, it would have changed my life & hope this does that for some of y’all.” Many fans have embraced and felt moved by her cover, with some internet users saying that Holliday gives them confidence, calling her an inspiration and an icon, and commenting on the “historic” moment of the cover, especially because Holliday is shown in a swimsuit. Some are even saying that they’re buying Cosmo for the first time because of Holliday’s cover.

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Of course, there are the naysayers. “Please don’t promote obesity,” one Twitter user commented, “Obesity is a serious condition.” Others commented saying that her BMI was unhealthy, even going as far to say that she’ll be dead by age 45. The majority seems in Holliday’s favor, though, replying to the haters by saying that the cover is “celebrating change — not obesity,” and that the cover is a much-needed promotion of diversity. 

There is no denying that Tess Holliday is putting herself in the crossfires with this cover, but I doubt that the tattooed mother of two cares very much. As her fabulous Cosmo cover says: “Tess Holliday wants the haters to kiss her ass.”

Katie Sheets, University of Vermont

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Katie Sheets

University of Vermont

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