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Tess Munster: divide and conquer

So, there’s been some big news going around this last week; Tess Munster – or Tess Holliday as she is beginning to work under – has been signed by major London agency MiLK Management. She has broken all records as she is the biggest plus size model EVER to be signed to a top agency. As it currently stands, most ‘plus’ models in the industry vary between a size 12 and a size 16 and are in the region of 5 ft 9 or above. Keep this in mind when scrolling down to read Tess’ stats!

Heidi Calvert Photography for Simply Be USA

Not only is Tess a size UK 26, she also stands shorter than your typical plus model at 5 ft 5. She is smashing all preconceived ideas of beauty, simply by putting herself out there and existing. With over half a million fans on Facebook alone, over the years Tess has developed a cult following of men and women alike, particularly with a movement called #effyourbeautystandards, focusing in on individual beauty and not simply what is accepted and portrayed in the media.

So why has this divided the internet so much? 

As far as I can see, this has put the world into two categories, as summarised by the comments on her page.

The first thinks this is an amazing step forward, not just for models, but for womankind in general. What she’s achieved is unbelievable and is enabling women everywhere to start loving themselves as they are RIGHT NOW. She tells us that beauty doesn’t have a size limit and women of every shape and size can look good and maybe, because of this woman, there will be someone, somewhere that hasn’t skipped lunch, taken laxatives or punished their body for not being the way it ‘ought’ to be… and all this while bringing up her family. The thought of that is incredible.

The second is much darker. The second thinks that Tess is promoting obesity and saying that it’s ok for her to [sic] stuff her face with McDonalds because she loves herself. Isn’t she putting herself at a very large risk of Type 2 diabetes or heart failure, with all that visceral fat surrounding her organs? She is telling people that big is best, surely? She’s posted images of her exercising but they’ve been clearly staged as she’d be slimmer if she really did that on a regular basis… right? A woman that size can’t possibly be considered attractive unless it’s to the desperate, sad feeders. What is there to love about being obese? She’s sending the wrong message to young people everywhere and that is wrong.

The way I see it, as women we are constantly fighting images all around us showing us what we should look like and what is fashionable. It has been drilled into us that until the day we match the image we’re supposed to look like, we should not be happy and are not just failing ourselves, but we also lose worth the more we decrease in ‘attractiveness’. The media tells us the best way to diet, shape ourselves and contour our faces so that we might become more socially acceptable. This is the age where everyday members of society get transforming plastic surgery if something’s not perfect. It’s not just the celebrities doing it any more!

So what happens when someone like Tess totally rejects this idea? It does seem that this has made some people very uncomfortable. For those conditioned to believe the media lies, a confident, fat, successful woman can bring out the worst in people and totally contradicts our beliefs. It makes us angry because she can “get away with it” while others can’t. Women have been working hard on their figures for years and it feels like she just cut in the queue in front of us without any effort. Right?

In actuality, I feel we should be embracing Tess. I do wholly believe there should be more Tess Hollidays in the limelight. Only then can womankind start looking at their own innate beauty instead of someone else’s.


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