Plus-size model Tess Holliday is blowing up all over the Internet this week, and with good reason. The body-acceptance activist just became the biggest plus-size model to sign with a major modeling agency, and with her style, sense of humor, and stunning good looks, we expect to see a lot more of her in the coming months. Here are 12 things you should know about everyone’s new body-positive hero.
1. She’s the biggest plus-size model to get a contract with a major agency.
While many working plus-size models are very tall women who wear a size 8-16 — causing many plus-size shoppers to say, “Well that’s not helpful” — Holliday is 5’5″ and wears a size 22 in the US and a 26 in the UK. She was signed by MiLK Model Management in London, which says she is the first model of her size to be represented by a major modeling agency.
2. She was discovered through Instagram.
Holliday has a popular Instagram account that you should be following if you are not already. She has over 350,000 followers on Instagram, and more than 630,000 on Facebook.
3. She is an activist.
Holliday describes herself as a body-acceptance activist, and she started the popular and powerful #EffYourBeautyStandards movement to encourage other women to love their bodies and feel confident in their shapes.
“I understand not everyone understands what I’m about,” she told Buzzfeed. “But to me it’s such a simple concept. It’s all about loving your body regardless of your size and chasing your dreams,” she said.
4. She has hair that would make Kate Middleton green with envy.
Look at those waves and that color. She’s like a real-life Little Mermaid.
5. She’s very funny.
Check out her response on Facebook to finding out that she’s going viral on the Internet.
6. She’s done some very impressive modeling work.
Holliday has shot a campaign for Benefit, worked with David LaChapelle, and has been featured in Vogue Italia, which named her one of the world’s most influential plus-size models.
7. She was turned away from modeling as a teenager.
“I found out about plus-size modeling when I was 15, and I went to an audition in Atlanta,” she told People. “They told me that I was too short and I was too big, and I would never model. But I’m very hardheaded!”
Those modeling agents are probably kicking themselves right now.
8. She was bullied in school.
People are assholes, and people were so cruel in her hometown of Laurel, Miss., that she left school at 17 and got her GED.
“I was getting shoved into lockers, I was being called names,” she told People. “Modeling really helped my confidence because I started seeing myself in a different light. I started seeing myself like, ‘Wow, I’m actually pretty.’ ”
9. She has a lot of fabulous ladies tattooed on her.
Holliday reportedly has Mae West tattooed on her right forearm, Marilyn Monroe on her left bicep, and on her right outer forearm she has the greatest diva of all time, Miss Piggy.
10. She has a favorite body part.
“I really love my butt,” she told DailyVenusDiva.com. “It’s pretty darn good if you ask me.”
11. She’s very busy.
“I never sit down. If I’m not shooting twelve hours a day, I’m out doing errands and going to meetings,” Holliday told the Daily News.
Modeling is busy work, and fitness is part of that. Holliday works out with a personal trainer four days a week and swims and hikes regularly.
12. She models full-time, and she makes it sound awesome.
I never envied professional models as much as I do right now.