TESS HOLLIDAY IS HERE. AT LEAST, SHE’S MEANT TO be. Not that you can actually tell. Because the sea of bodies in front of her, waiting for a ‘meet and greet’ at the inaugural Curve Fashion Festival in Manchester - the first of its kind celebrating fashion over a size 16 in the UK – seems endless. ‘Events like this help women realise that they’re not alone,’ says Holliday, when I finally get to meet her. ‘I think that’s the most important part of all of this.’
Holliday – for those who’ve been living under a rock – is the largest model ever, at a UK size 26, to be signed by a major model agency, Milk Management in New York. But she’s more than a model – she’s outspoken, calls out the industry for a lack of diversity, and is aiming to change the rhetoric around being ‘fat’ (her words) with a social-media campaign called #effyourbeautystandards. With more than 1 Million Instagram followers, and covers on mega US magazines People and LA Weekly, life is pretty sweet for a Mississippi gal who was a dentist’s receptionist just five years ago.
Over here, she’s best known for appearing on Channel 4 documentary Plus Sized Wars, which highlighted the rise of plus-size fashion bloggers, and she reckons the UK has a bit of catching up to do: ‘You guys need this,’ she says, speaking of the festival and growing plus-size momentum. ‘The States are more accommodating to fat people – there are more plus-sized clothing labels, and people talk openly about it. I’ve noticed that a lot of people who criticise me are from the UK – both in the press and on social media. Since I’ve been here, I’ve gotten a lot of stares on the street, but in the States, people always come up to me and say, “I love your hair” or “I love your dress, you’re so cute”. Here, people just look at me like I’m a crazy person.’
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