Photo of Tess Holliday from madmoizelle.com
In May, People Magazine put out its “body issue.” Normally, the person gracing the cover is some starlet or something who has a “perfect” bod and is into working out and all that. However, in 2015, the chosen cover model was Tess Holliday, a self-made, social media, plus sized model who landed a half a million dollar contract with a major modeling agency.
(The headline on the magazine says that she is a size 22. Considering I am five inches shorter and at the moment between an 18 and a 20 with clearly defined joints and nowhere close to the rolls, somehow, I doubt that.)
It seems that People Magazine, among mainstream media outlets, are captivated with the 29-year old’s story of using food as a coping mechanism after a traumatic incident when she was nine. It happens. It happens a lot. And just as happened to so many of us who are rounder thanks to the set of genes God gave us, although not morbidly obese as this young lady is even if she does not want to admit to it, she was ridiculed and shamed by her peer group for her weight, which, of course, only made the problem worse.
Obesity in the United States is a raging problem. The causes are multi-faceted. The American food supply is loaded with offerings that are no where close to wholesome. Therefore, addictive comfort food is cheap and easy to come by in a society that is ruled by the pressures of competition whether we like it or not. In this environment, obesity becomes a self-perpetuating problem. However, rather than accepting that this problem exists, and that humans are fairly mean, Holliday did not work toward a way to reach a healthier weight while acquiring mental bulwarks. She decided to change her name from Ryann Hoven and start #effyourbeautystandards instead.
While many of us curvaceous girls out here who do not meet the 5’7″ size 0 threshold and look awful in skinny jeans can relate, there’s a difference between working to change beauty standards away from the unrealistic and celebrating truly fat girls who are at incredibly unhealthy weights. That is what this model, and a world-famous photographer, Yossi Loloi, (he has been snapping hundreds of pictures of plus sized girls) do not seem to understand. While the whole “fat shaming” bullying thing DOES need to go away – even if it never will, humans being what they are – glorifying weights that put women in grave danger of developing any number of metabolic conditions does a great disservice to women.
The question, though, is why is this suddenly an issue given the long-time emphasis from the medical community on the dangers of being overweight? An April 16 youtube video by Paul Joseph Watson asks that very question although not in the same words. (This stirred up the conspiracy people, and Alex Jones printed a transcript on his site.) The answer could be as simple as Mr. Loloi’s ideas:
Loloi believes that by venerating obesity he is challenging the “dictatorship of esthetics”…. “I believe there are several ways to what is perceived as beauty, it is not measurable and has not got a standard size,” claims Loloi.
Unfortunately, as Watson points out, when it comes to women attracting men science disagrees. Those of us girls who don’t have the optimal hip to waist ratio that multiple studies have revealed know it, too (and we want empire waists to return so the guys can’t see what ours are with our clothes on). Glorifying and venerating fat, as Watson puts it, is not going to change nature.
Given the growing obesity problem, the question Watson raises on why the veneration, recognition, and apologetics from the mainstream media on honest to God unhealthy fat is rather important. Yes, increasingly, obese people are demanding and receiving concessions. Yes, there are markets for products that do the accommodating rather than inspiring these people to change their eating and exercise habits. Yes, there are obese people who are beautiful, and even some that are healthy. But, to what end do we celebrate fat?
For those of us who just want to get into our summer wardrobes and are combating the extra inches with a lot of walking and eating of real, fresh foods and limiting carbs, that question hangs in the air. Why would People Magazine, long known for putting trim bodies on its cover opt for a short, fat, tattooed model instead? Do they really think that obesity is that attractive?