Supermodel Tess Holiday first got on my radar because of her inspiring (and often time funny) messages online, but when I discovered she was from my home state of Mississippi, I became even more intrigued with her, because she was yet another example of what was possible for anyone with a dream. I didn’t know much about her backstory, however, until she released her memoir in 2017 called THE NOT SO SUBTLE ART OF BEING A FAT GIRL. In it she chronicles not just her success as a plus-size model but lets the world into her struggles and challenges growing up that are sure to inspire people around the world.
“Growing up down south I resented it for a long time,” Tess told me during our conversation together after the book’s release. “I felt like people didn’t understand me. I never told anyone I was from Mississippi. I think I was angry for all of the wrong reasons.” Now she uses where she is from as a mirror for others. “Just because you have had a bad experience doesn’t mean that where you’re from is bad,” she shares. “You can go anywhere in the world and feel bad. Traveling all over I see that I could have had it way worst. I’m really grateful for my experiences and the opportunity to look back on them.”
Discussing her no-nonsense approach to life, Tess says her honesty is part of what her fans expect from her. “My fans are from all walks of life, all over the world. Some don’t even know what I’m saying because of language barriers. They do understand that it’s hard to grow up in certain areas and be different. I know a lot of people identify with me because they feel alone. Life can be hard, but if you have people who support and love you it can also be really great.”
She also realizes that just because she is so outspoken doesn’t mean everything is perfect. “I think it’s important to tell people that just because I wrote a book about confidence doesn’t mean that I always love myself and that I don’t have bad days. I try to be as honest as possible. I know what it’s like to not feel great all the times. I’m really glad to be on the other side and to understand that it’s ok to have those days. It doesn’t make me a bad person. it makes me human.”
And now that she has graced magazines and runways around the world, what does Tess want? Well, everything! “I’ve accomplished everything I set out to do and now I find myself coming up with more dreams and seeing what’s next.” If the past is any indication then the skies certainly the limit for her.