She endured years of abuse at the hands of bullies and faced constant rejection from the fashion world, but size 22 Tess Holliday is certainly having the last laugh. The plus-size model and mother has proven her critics wrong after she was signed by a top agency, hailed by Vogue Italia as one of the top six plus-size models in the world and landing the coveted cover of SLiNK magazine’s Role Models issue.
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The Mississippi-born clothes horse who, at 5ft 5in, was always told she was too short and too big to model, is the star of the glossy plus-size magazine issue and speaks candidly about her weight. Speaking to the London-based magazine, the 18st 5lb model said: ‘I want to empower girls in a different way. I’m lucky that I can do that with my body right now, but I’d like to do that with words.
Her big break came in 2011, when A&E chose her to be the face of their documentary series, Heavy, after discovering her online. Since then, she has modeled for Domino Dollhouse, SWAK, Jessica Louise Clothing, Evil Pawn Jewellery, Black Cat Bikinis, and more. In 2013, Holliday started a social media movement she called #effyourbeautystandards, a salute to pushing positive body image.
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That same year, she was named by Vogue Italia as one of the top six plus-size models in the world. Her biggest break yet came when MiLK Model Management announced they had signed Holliday to their plus-size arm, Curves. The agency said they cottoned on to Holliday because of her vast social media influence, especially on Instagram.
Holliday’s trajectory is a triumph over her critics and her bullies. Perhaps in a ‘that-will-show-them’ move, she has a tattoo of Miss Piggy on her right arm. Her personal life is booming, too. Last year she became engaged for Australian businessman Nick Holliday, whose surname she has now adopted. The couple have a nine-year-old son – and, it seems, a very active love life.
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‘I think people need to be taught that when you get past a size sixteen you still have sex and you have sex a lot and that you have healthy relationships. That you live your life, have fun. People assume that fat people live miserable lives, that being my size is a death sentence,’ she said. She also hopes to have more children with him – and the future is looking bright.She concluded: ‘I’ve had a s****y life. And some people can’t move on from that but I want to use it as a way to tell people that nothing should stop them doing what they want. I remind myself that I can pay my rent this month and pay my bills and support myself doing something everyone told me I would never be able to do.’ Holliday has built her name on social media over the years, and now has an agency. Holliday’s career has proven wrong the bullies that have followed her through life SLiNK magazine issue 15 has a full interview with cover star Tess.