Just like with any bold step forward in this country, there’s always someone chomping at the bit to criticize it. In the case of plus-size supermodel Tess Holliday, that person is weight loss expert Steve Miller.
While the 29-year-old model’s message “you can be gorgeous and fat” seems super body positive, Miller believes it absolves unhealthy eating habits. He told the Daily Mail, “Tess challenges the fashion industry’s preconceived idea of beauty and believes you can be gorgeous and fat which is ludicrous because fat isn’t great — it’s dangerous.”
Tess is at the very top of the plus-size model fashion game due to her body positive activism, both online and in her modeling work. She was named by Vogue Italia as one of the world’s most influential plus-size models, has millions of Facebook likes and 800,000 Instagram followers. Naturally, it was only a matter of time before someone like Miller tried to take her down a peg.
Tess’ whole fashion career rests on her powerful social media presence where she’s been combating traditional, thin model beauty standards since 2013. While standing up to body-shaming bullies and embracing who and what you are is certainly commendable, there is something to Miller’s fervent stance that promoting obesity is bad for society. I personally think he’s taken his criticism too far, but if you cut through it to his underlying point, there’s something that can’t be ignored.
“Of course she is bound to boast so many followers because there are sadly a lot of fat women out there who are in denial about the dangers of being too fat. They prefer to hide behind the rhetoric of Tess and her attempt to normalize obesity.”
Obesity may be a fact of life, but it is also an unhealthy way to live. I don’t think Tess is trying to promote an unhealthy lifestyle at all — her message is much more “love your body no matter your size”. However, her supermodel status could potentially influence her fans to think that it’s OK to lead an unhealthy lifestyle.
Miller was once obese himself, so his exaggerated commentary is somewhat understandable — he personally fears the dangers of being overweight. However, his claims are also somewhat alarmist, and while obesity is certainly a growing concern, especially in the US, it is not all the fault of this one model. Thankfully, he does recognize the other side of this coin — the dangerously thin models who promote eating disorders and negative body images — but doesn’t seem nearly as concerned about it.
“Of course being too thin is equally dangerous, but the extreme fat acceptance Tess is promoting is arguably even worse because of the shocking explosion in the obesity statistics.”
I would argue that is his biggest mistake in all this. It is just as unhealthy to be too thin, and while it may not be a growing problem, there are far more models in the world showing off their extreme thinness, which no doubt contribute to life-threatening health conditions. He also ignores the fact that Tess, along with many obese people, does maintain a relatively healthy lifestyle, but still has trouble losing the weight.
So yes, it might be better for your overall health not to be obese, but that doesn’t mean you’re not beautiful if you are. All you can do is treat the body you have as best you can, and don’t let anyone, supermodel or weight loss expert, make you think that’s wrong.