Tess Holliday Reveals She Has Anorexia

Last weekend, plus-size model and body positivity activist Tess Holliday revealed that she’s recovering from the eating disorder anorexia.

By Paula Gallagher2 min read
Tess Holliday Reveals She Has Anorexia

Tess Holliday, 35, who established the #effyourbeautystandards social media campaign in 2013, posted to both Twitter and Instagram about her eating disorder and her frustration with people commenting on her weight and health.

Holliday tweeted, “To everyone that keeps saying ‘you’re looking healthy lately’ or ‘You are losing weight, keep it up!’ Stop. Don’t. Comment. On. My. Weight. Or. Perceived. Health. Keep. It. To. Yourself. Thanks.”

She continued her comments on Instagram, writing, “Yes, I’ve lost weight — I’m healing from an eating disorder & feeding my body regularly for the first time in my entire life. When you equate weight loss with ‘health’ & place value & worth on someone’s size, you are basically saying that we are more valuable now because we are smaller & perpetuating diet culture… & that’s corny as hell. NOT here for it.” 

Holliday went into more detail on Twitter, blaming her eating disorder on societal pressures to be skinny. She wrote, “I’m anorexic & in recovery. I’m not ashamed to say it out loud anymore. I’m the result of a culture that celebrates thinness & equates that to worth, but I get to write my own narrative now. I’m finally able to care for a body that I’ve punished my entire life & I am finally free.”

Many commenters were confused about how Holliday could be overweight and suffering from anorexia — associated with being severely underweight — at the same time.

Holliday shot back, “Not the ‘but your fat how are you anorexic’ comments. Y’all don’t know how science & body works huh. My technical diagnosis is anorexia nervosa & yes, I’m still not ashamed. I’m too damn happy for y’all to even come close to dimming my shine.”

Atypical anorexia, recognized in 2013, has very similar criteria to the more well-known anorexia nervosa: “In both conditions, people persistently restrict the calories they eat. They demonstrate an intense fear of gaining weight or a refusal to gain weight. They also experience distorted body image or put excessive stock in their body shape or weight when evaluating their self-worth.”

However, people with atypical anorexia aren’t underweight. Even so, this eating disorder can cause “serious malnutrition and damage to their health.”

People with atypical anorexia aren’t underweight but can still suffer serious malnutrition.

Holliday insists that recognizing and recovering from an eating disorder are part of being body positive: “To everyone saying that I can’t possibly love myself and have an eating disorder, that is the actual definition of loving myself. Being able to prioritize myself & to be in recovery. I’m more self aware than any of my critics but you know, y’all go off.”

Holliday ended her post on Instagram asking people to refrain from making comments about weight. She wrote, “For folks like me that are trying to reframe our relationships with our bodies & heal, hearing comments about weight is triggering as hell. It sets us back in our progress...If you can’t tell someone they look nice without making it about their size, then baby, please don’t say nuthin at all.”

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