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Tess Holliday is sharing her views on body positivity and the plus-size moment in a new interview with the U.K.’s Sunday Times.
The 34-year-old model explained why she owns descriptors like “plus size” and “fat” — while still noting that those terms can be hurled as insults.
“I think words do matter — there is power in words,” she said.
“I’m OK with being called plus size, I’m OK with being called fat. If someone is shouting that I’m fat in the street in a derogatory way, then obviously I’m not OK with that, but I’m comfortable using the adjective fat to describe myself, because I am fat.”
While the mum-of-two — who clashed with Piers Morgan in 2018 after he criticised her Cosmopolitan U.K. cover as “dangerous and misguided” because of her size — acknowledges that there’s still a “lot of work to do” in terms of society no longer judging women by their weight, she feels empowered by the strides the plus-size movement has made.
“I’ve been doing this for a decade, and when I first started you didn’t see women like me on the covers of magazines, you didn’t see pop stars like Lizzo dominating stages and winning Grammys,” Holliday said.
“You didn’t see any of that — so, yeah, I’ve been a part of a movement that has changed the social climate for everybody to be more accepting in general. Not only if you’re plus size, but however you choose to live your life and present yourself and your body. Self-love is for everyone and we all need it!”
Ultimately, Holliday wants everyone — regardless of size — to feel comfortable and free from shaming.
“It’s not about what you’re eating or your weight — it’s everything to do with being who you want to be,” she told the newspaper.
“If you want to eat pizza, have the pizza. If you want to run 5 miles up a hill, cool, go run. Do whatever you want to do, but don’t let the size of your body and other people’s opinions about you stop you from living the life you deserve.”
That free-spirited philosophy applies to her own life.
“Being fat doesn’t necessarily make me feel stronger,” she added later in the interview.
“What makes me feel strong is knowing that I can live my life and be who I want to be. I can exist in this world, I can have my career, I can accomplish my dreams, raise my kids and be the friend, the mum and the person I want to be and still be fat — but not in spite of being fat, because that’s what people would say. There’s nothing wrong with my body, so I feel strong and capable because I am able to be who I want to be, even when I’m told I shouldn’t or I can’t.”