Size 26 fashion and beauty models. Is this now going too far?

I’ve been accused in the past of having “a problem with fat people”. But instead of being anti-fat, I’m simply pro-health.

Again, we live in a time where people love to be offended and hate to be told they’re wrong. A time where people report mean tweets to the police. People only like to be told that they’re right, no matter how poorly educated they are (I was educated in state schools for the record).

So, this little nugget of news caught my eye last night and I was shocked and appalled; but not surprised:

Plus-size model Tess Holliday took the next big step in reforming the fashion industry’s standards of beauty.

“I really f*****g hope not!” was my first thought. So let’s break this down before I’m accused of ‘fat shaming’ and being ‘anti-women’.

Firstly, she has a relatively slender face, good hair, good makeup and superb lighting as well as some quite gorgeous body art. This, and this alone is why she’s so beautiful, IMHO.

This ideal of the female body is equally dangerous than the image of size-0. When obesity related heart disease is a bigger killer in the west than cancer, is this the image we want portraying to our wildly susceptible young people?

I’m all for curves and swerves. I think women are gorgeous whatever their size and shape (objectively speaking as a gay man) and no one should have to conform to a particular way of looking. But…

This woman and many other ‘plus-sized’ beauties who almost always seem to have thin faces; not sure how that works – luck? – are portraying a vastly unhealthy body image.

So here are the facts:

  • If your body mass index (BMI) is more than 30 (that our subject’s clearly is) then this severely affects your chances of conception. Not only this, but the health implications to you and your baby can be very severe. Between 15-20% of pregnant women now fall into this category.
  • Obesity and obesity related illnesses are costing the NHS between £6-£8 billion! That’s almost 10% of the NHS 2015/16 budget.
  • Cardiovascular problems, risk of heart disease and heart attack are increased 100-fold. You’re literally a ticking time-bomb and about to drop dead.
  • Regardless of thyroid problems, genetics and any other weight related illness (mental health problems are the exception here – that’s a whole different kettle of fried fish) are all irrelevant with following fact.
  • If you burn more calories than you put in, you will loose weight. This is scientific fact and there’s no way around it. If you can’t exercise or simply don’t like it; eat less!

None of the above is ‘fat shaming’ although I hate that phrase. It’s not attacking or an anti-feminist statement. I was raised by a true baby-booming feminist and I will defend the rights and liberties of women until the day I die; but being am extreme, great big, 30++BMI, wobbling tub bucket overweight (apparently the former was too offensive for some and deflected the point) is not feminism.

It’s dangerous, it’s unhealthy and it gives the wrong message. I don’t see how this could even be an argument? We live in a Britain that covers up smoking counters in shops, but defends images like this. I seriously just don’t get it.

Feature photo source:

Posted at 13:08 June 28, 2015

I’m not sure what to think. My daughter, who is 27 and has worked hard to get back to a healthy weight after several years of obesity,, sees Miss Holliday as a positive role model. I think she sees it as a counter to the other extreme that the beauty and fashion industry promotes. Neither is healthy, physically or emotionally and I admit I’m glad my daughter chose to simply admire Tess Holliday’s “style”, rather trying to emulate her.

Posted at 10:08 June 9, 2015
CSI girls

Great post. I think you’ve said what a lot of people feel they can’t. When size 0 models are put out people are always quick to complain it’s not healthy but when it’s a size 26 it’s ‘ok’ as it’s promoting to be happy in your own skin which is just as wrong. Very true and honest post. M xxx

Posted at 09:02 May 20, 2015

I COMPLETELY agree! I’m not the skinniest lad but I completely agree with you on this. We’re at a time where everyone is trying to be politically correct and trying to not offend anyone that things are getting a little bit bizarre.

    Posted at 01:30 May 22, 2015
    Thom Watson

    Exactly. Because everyone seems to be offended by everything, we forget that as part of our freedom of speech, as long as we don’t incite violence etc, we have the right to offend! This wasn’t what I was intending, but just because someone is offended by what you have to say, doesn’t mean they’re right.

Posted at 00:38 May 20, 2015

I agree with the sentiment, but I had a few objections:

“you will loose weight” should be “you will lose weight”.
“If you can’t exercise or simply don’t like it; eat less!” should use a comma instead of a semicolon.
What’s “am extreme”? Like really early?

    Posted at 11:10 May 20, 2015
    Thom Watson

    Haha thank you Erik. I wrote this on my phone on the train so apologies for the grammar slips!

Posted at 22:15 May 19, 2015
Andrew James (Beauty and The Boy)

Totally agree with you there is a difference between being proud of how you look and feeling good at about your body and then there is your health and how your body affects that be it being overweight or underweight as both extremes are dangerous

    Posted at 01:27 May 22, 2015
    Thom Watson

    Thanks for your comment Andii. It’s nice to know I’m not on my own in these views! x

Posted at 21:34 May 19, 2015

Our society is ludicrously hypocritical, and the fashion industry is lazy. Women come in so many stunning shapes and sizes – for example I am a size 6 in tops and a 14 in trousers (UK not USA sizes, don’t freak out), I have a friend with unbelievably long legs, one with huge breasts, one with broad shoulders.

Why aren’t we healthy, shapely women the ones being picked up as part of the the ‘real beauty’ movement? Because you can’t throw clothes on us and guarantee they’ll fit like the designer imagined. This woman is gigantic, but you can put a plus sized fashion range on her and it’s gonna ‘hang right’.

The fashion industry really doesn’t care about women – they’ve been making money off us feeling bad about ourselves for too long to have a shred of integrity left. And yes, I’m bitter, but only because I haven’t found a high waisted skirt that fit me properly in about 8 years ;)


    Posted at 01:26 May 22, 2015
    Thom Watson

    I 100% agree with you. I think a campaign of real women (and men) is exactly what we need, similar to that Dove did a few years back! Good luck on finding that skirt! x

Posted at 20:36 May 19, 2015
The Kentucky Gent

I’m definitely right there with you on this thinking. I’m not in the best shape in the world, but there’s a big difference between me saying it’s okay for guys to not have a six-pack and someone (girl or boy) that has a BMI as high as the one you quoted. I’m perfectly healthy at my BMI, but there’s definitely a line to cross once you go above that recommended index and tell others it’s okay to be you as long as your happy.

On the other hand, I’m all for embracing your body in whatever shape/size it is, but at the end of the day the list of complications for being overweight is real.

Josh – The Kentucky Gent

    Posted at 01:25 May 22, 2015
    Thom Watson

    It’s a fine line but I think this is way crossing it. People would be outraged if a model was smoking or taking drugs, so why should someone who’s morbidly obese be an exception? It’s also very sad the abuse I’ve received over this but this appears to be the way things are going.

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