A plus-size model who was bullied so badly she was forced to drop out of school has been signed by a major modeling agency.
According to Plus Model Magazine, Tess is the first plus size model of her size and height to be signed to an agency. (The New York Daily News points out plus-size models tend to be taller than 5’8” and between sizes 10 to 18.)
She told Huffington Post UK securing her contract had been “mind-blowing” and yet simultaneously: “Very humbling. I knew it would be big, but it’s far exceeded anything I could have imagined.”
The mother-of-one who occasionally uses the surname of her fiancée Nick Holliday, is also behind the hashtag #effyourbeautystandards, which encourages women to celebrate their bodies and sticks two fingers up at standard beauty ideals.
Astonishingly Mississippi-born Tess, who experienced relentless bullying as a child and eventually left school at 17, is still on the receiving end of bile because of how she looks.
The mother-of-one who works out with a trainer four times a week, walks, swims and hikes, says she receives “sometimes hundreds” of negative comments on a daily basis.
She explained: “I understand not everyone understands what I’m about. But to me it’s such a simple concept. It’s all about loving your body regardless of your size and chasing your dreams.
“Everybody deserves to be happy but for some reason the fact that I happen to be plus size and happy seems to bother people. It’s odd really.”
To those women who experience negative body image issues, Tess’s message is firm: “Surround yourself with positive, like-minded people who support you. It’s crucial to your happiness and well-being. Never compare yourself to others and celebrate what makes you, YOU.”
Blogging for Huffington Post in 2013, Tess wrote:
“Even as a model, I still have a belly, cellulite, stretch marks, and thanks to nursing a son – not the perkiest boobs. However that doesn’t devalue me at all. I think if anything, it makes my body more interesting.
“Like my tattoos, they tell a story and I can tell you where I was or how I was feeling at that moment, similar to when I look at my body.
“’This scar is from when I had a C-section.’ These scars are from crashing my bike on the gravel after not wearing a helmet even after my mother warned me multiple times.’
“’My stretch marks are from puberty and many years after’, etc.
“Our bodies tell a story and everyone’s journey is different, everybody is different, unique, exquisite. The only problem is that not everyone respects that or comprehends that we don't have to all look like a cookie cutter or perfect picture of "health." We have so many forces around us that try and influence us otherwise. Why be our own worst enemy? Even if you don't have a partner to dress up (or take it off) for, do it for yourself. Our relationships with ourselves and our bodies are the most important ones we will ever have.”