Look out world: Tess Munster (who also goes by her married name Tess Holliday), one of our favorite “plus-size” models and the woman behind the #EffYourBeautyStandards movement, has just made a major step towards changing beauty standards. She just landed a contract with MiLK Model Management, making her the first-ever model of her height and size—5’5 and a size 22—to be signed to a major modeling agency. Do you guys know what this means? The industry as we know it is finally listening and acknowledging that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Anna Shillinglaw, owner and director of MiLk, recently told the NY Daily News that Tess is “an important role model for so many women.”
Tess grew up in a small town in Mississippi (Southern gals represent!), where she was bullied so much because of her size that she dropped out of school at age 17, got her GED, and eventually moved to L.A. to pursue her dream of modeling professionally. She was a finalist on Torrid’s House of Dreams Model Search, has appeared in countless magazines and has been named a top model in Vogue Italia and Refinery29.
With over 338,000 followers on Instagram (more than most models), Tess launched the #EffYourBeautyStandards movement in 2013—a crowd-sourced social media statement designed to empower everyone to love their bodies. “EYBS is about embracing your body and being unapologetic!” she wrote on the EYBS Facebook page, encouraging fans to share their photos and quotes of encouragement. Since then, the movement has flourished and taken on a huge following on Instagram. In the process, Tess has proven to the modeling industry (and to everyone!) that you don’t have to be 5’10 and a size zero to be beautiful, happy, and successful. Her empowering message has also made her a bonafide body positivity hero. Clad in sassy black lingerie, one of her Instagram captions states, “I hope this makes you realize that it’s okay to be yourself, even if you happen to exist in a fat body.”
Still, haters gonna hate, and Tess admits that she gets numerous negative comments daily about her size. And frankly, my dear, Tess doesn’t give a good-darn, saying, “I understand not everyone understands what I’m about. But to me it’s such a simple concept,” she told the Huffington Post, “it’s all about loving your body regardless of your size and chasing your dreams.”
She explains, “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.” And we wholeheartedly agree. A world where we are all identical sounds, quite frankly, super boring and kind of like a nightmarish episode of Doctor Who. In a blog post she wrote for Huffington Post in 2013, Tess says, “our bodies tell a story, and everyone’s journey is different, everybody is different, unique, and exquisite.”
Her advice for those of us facing negativity? “Surround yourself with positive, like-minded people who support you,” she told HuffPost, “it’s crucial to your happiness and well-being. Never compare yourself to others and celebrate what makes you, YOU.”
Start an advice column, please, Tess?
Also, not only is she a professional model (with some seriously cool tattoos, I have to say), but she’s also a mom and a makeup artist. Girl, is there anything you can’t do? We think not.