The Tess Holiday Controversy – I Will Probably Get Hate Mail for This


I’ve been watching the uproar over Tess Holliday and I’m trying to be objective and unbiased.

Let me start by saying, Tess Holliday (Ryan Hoven) is stunning. She’s beautiful. She really is — and I am NOT trying to shame her for feeling comfortable in her skin. As one of the most physically self-conscious women on the planet, I actually applaud her for her confidence.

My issue is not with her as a person, though I expect some people to read this and go straight to the defensive position.

My issue is with the industry, with society – humanity really. What is wrong with us? Why do we feel it necessary to glorify extreme behavior, extreme body types, extreme everything? WHY is Tess Holliday being praised for her confidence when, in reality, she’s just as dangerous an example for young girls as are her hyper-skinny counterparts; if not more so?

And, I know this is a bit of a tangent, but for the love of all things good in the world, why can’t people keep their clothes on?  I don’t care if you’re 100 pounds or a 1000 pounds, pasties and g-string is NOT a smart fashion choice.  I happen to think MOST people look better when their clothes ON. Save your wobbly bits for someone who loves you the same privately as they do publicly, and that’s not my values talking, that’s common sense  – why needlessly subject yourself to public judgement if the message you’re sending isn’t empowering and edifying to ALL people? How are uncovered backsides (both the narrow and the wide) helping to advance society in any way?

You see, I did some research. I learned that Tess is 5’5″ tall and around 260 pounds. That means, Tess Statseven if she’s a large frame person – which based on her wrists and ankles she may very well be – she’s  approximately 47% body fat. I ran her stats (readily available online) through a simple height/weight calculator and learned that, at max, she should weight 137.5 pounds to be within the range considered healthy for her height.

You can see the screenshot to the right.

According to a study from Harvard Medical School, “When you walk across level ground, the force on your knees is the equivalent of 1½ times your body weight. That means a 200-pound man will put 300 pounds of pressure on his knees with each step. Add an incline and the force is greater. The force on each knee is two to three times your body weight when you go up and down stairs, and four to five times your body weight when you squat to tie a shoelace or pick up an item you dropped.”

This means that, even if Tess Holliday’s heart is perfectly healthy and her organs are unaffected by her weight (a fact that none of us can accurately speculate upon, because none of us privy to her medical reports), by sheer mathematics, she’s not as healthy as she should be. Her joints ARE under undue stress, there’s no way around this fact. Not only that, given her approximate body fat percentage, she’s at risk for all sorts of painful and debilitating illnesses.

By the same token, the fashion industry pushes the envelope of hyper-thinness. This is especially true in the runway world.  There is nothing healthy about being underweight. It’s JUST as dangerous as being overweight.

According to WebMD, people who are underweight have weaker immune systems and they’re more susceptible to pretty much every infectious disease known to man. Not only that, but they tend to be more fatigued and have slower brain function because they’re missing out on vital nutrients that aid mental processes (I guess this means that being too skinny also means you’re probably a little more stupid than you should be).

Here’s what I want to know — WHERE is the middle ground?  The entertainment industry is glorifying extremes at every opportunity. The ‘body-love’ movement is only popular in the media if the ‘lover’ is dangerously overweight. Meanwhile, ‘beautiful people’ are only beautiful if they have a thigh gap like Moon Hill.

For every Tess Holliday out there, there are 100 average-weight, healthy girls who have been told they are too heavy to be considered beautiful.

Ralph Lauren told Filippa Hamilton (at left) she was too fat, and Photoshopped her down to a cartoonish version of herself for a print ad. It created a huge uproar and even landed Filippa a spot on the Today Show (of course, Ralph Lauren denies they ever told her she was too heavy, because that would be bad press). If this girl is too fat to model, I must be too fat to live.

And who could forget the Kate Upton scandal. She received all kinds of backlash for being too big too model, but at the same time, received huge praise for her spread in Sports Illustrated! Perception is the author of the double-standard.

What kind of message are we sending our children? Do we even know what standards are anymore?

It seems we’ve become a society of extremes. Everything must be extreme to be considered worthy of publicity. Reality TV is a perfect example of this fact. You MUST be extremely dramatic, extremely drunk, extremely attractive, or extremely unattractive to be considered interesting.  The only thing you CAN’T be is extremely well-balanced and well-rounded.

Do I think we should be celebrating Tess Holliday? No, I do not. Do I think we should celebrate her anorexic counterparts? No, I do not.

I know I’m being unrealistic, but I am of the opinion that society will continue on a downward spiral until WE, as the consumptive public, choose to buy into a new standard. As long as we continue to celebrate and crave garbage, they’ll keep feeding us garbage. The entertainment, news, media and fashion industries are just that, industries, and they’re in it to make money. WE must draw the line, and until we do, they’ll just keep pushing the extremes and Photoshopping reality all the way to the bank.


Tylie EavesTylie Eaves is the Editor-in-Chief of the Hot Mess Press, the Founder and CEO of Virtue Marketing LLC and the sole contributor at TylieEaves.Com -Confessions of a Woman on the Edge.  Like her VM Facebook Page HERE, Follow her on Twitter HERE. And find her Confessions of a Woman on the Edge Facebook page HERE.