Tess Holliday is a model, blogger, and makeup artist who created the body positive movement #effyourbeautystandards in 2013. Her latest project is a body-acceptance campaign called “Get Body Posi” in partnership with self-tanning brand Isle of Paradise.
I feel most powerful when…
I’m naked. For a long time I never felt good in the skin I was in. Being able to feel sexy in my fat body — which people told me wasn’t desirable — has given me a lot of power. Part of that is how I’ve chosen to reclaim the word fat. Today, when I’m naked, I feel sexy. I feel empowered. I feel in charge.
What does power mean to you?
Power, to me, means being able to help others that perhaps haven’t been in a position to help themselves. I always try to be mindful that I have influence and “power,” but none of that is any good if you’re not using it to help others and elevate causes that you care about.
What do you do when you feel powerless?
I’m a Cancer, so I usually cry about it a lot. I’m very sensitive. I try to re-centre myself. Then, I call someone who is really good at reminding me of why I’m doing what I do. And talking me off of a ledge. Or I’ll take a social media break if I can. And, sometimes, I’ll just look in the mirror and remind myself who the f*ck I am. You know?
What’s your power anthem?
It depends on my mood, but I would say it’s “Dancing On My Own” by Robyn.
Who’s your power icon?
Hmmm I’m thinking about all the people I love and look up to. I always say Chrissy Teigen, because I appreciate her so much and I know her in real life. But, at the moment, I would say Janet Mock. She’s so powerful. She helps others, not only through her writing, but with directing and producing Pose, and being able to create her own narrative and space within the trans and LGBTQ community.
What do you wear when you want to feel powerful?
A crop top. And maybe jean shorts, but I do wear leggings basically 24/7. I love showing off my stomach. And I like that a crop top is something that traditionally fat bodies haven’t been allowed to wear, so I wear them as much as possible.
Responses have been edited and condensed for clarity.
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