5-Foot-5 & Size 22: Meet The Unlikely Model Who’s Effing Up Your Beauty Standards

"The story of our current model obsession reads like an origin tale for a contestant on America’s Next Top Model, something crafted by a team of writers who know exactly the kind of heartwarming schmaltz that really gets America going. But, this happened without Hollywood’s help: Tess Holliday was born in a small town in Mississippi and dreamt of being a model. She was told that her fantasies were just that and was bullied so badly that she dropped out of school. She continued to pursue her goals, though, and is now a bona fide model with a big-deal contract, and she’s paving the way for girls like her.

Taking that story at face value would be reductive, though; Holliday’s tale is even more interesting. While the average model towers over 5-foot-9 and wears a size 2, she stands four inches shorter, wears a size 22, and is adorned with tattoos. And, she’s just been signed to MiLk Model Management as the first model of her height and size to be picked up by a major agency.

For an industry that prizes thinness in its models over most anything, this move is a controversial but game-changing one. For every person who has suffered from body-image issues, who has doubted her self-worth for not fitting into a certain physical ideal, this is a step forward that proves that beauty doesn’t have a singular definition.

Holliday doesn’t just dispel body-type ideals simply by existing in the fashion industry: she actively promotes acceptance with the hashtag #effyourbeautystandards that she started in 2013. She encouraged people of all shapes and sizes to utilize the hashtag on their selfies, and as the movement grew, she created T-shirts that proudly proclaimed this positive slogan.”

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