Tess Holliday says comments accusing her of lying about anorexia show ‘larger problem’ of lack of representation

Body activist says she hopes she can use her platform to help others in the same position

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Thursday 06 May 2021 21:43 BST
Tess Holliday opens up about responses she's received after revealing anorexia battle
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Tess Holliday has opened up about the response she’s received since speaking candidly about being in recovery from anorexia.

The model and body activist revealed over the weekend that she was recently diagnosed with the eating disorder by a psychologist, sharing in a series of social media posts that she is “anorexic and in recovery” and that she is “not ashamed to say it out loud anymore”.

Since sharing her own story, the 35-year-old has been inundated with messages of support from her more than 2.1m followers on Instagram.

However, speaking with Good Morning America on Thursday, Holliday revealed that she has also been targeted by others who have suffered with eating disorders and have accused her of lying - which she says is indicative of a lack of diversity problem.

“I’ve had a lot of messages from folks that are anorexic that are livid and angry because they feel like I’m lying,” she said. “I am plus-size, but advocating for diversity and larger bodies, and so I think for people hearing me say I’m anorexic was really jarring and hard and confusing.”

According to Holliday, the response from people surprised by her diagnosis has shown the “larger problem” of  lack of diversity and representation.

“You can’t look at someone and tell whether or not they’re healthy. You just can’t,” she continued. “I understand that people look at me and I don’t fit what we have seen presented as, you know, the diagnosis for anorexia.

“But then, for me, that tells me that there’s a larger problem which I’ve been actually saying for years is that we have a like, a lack of diversity and representation in the world.”

Going forward, Holliday told GMA that she hopes to use her platform to help others who may be in the same position.

The plus-size model also reflected on her own recovery, revealing that she feels “whole” and “at peace” since seeking help.

“The sky’s the limit,” she said. “I actually feel like I can take on the things that life is throwing my way and I have been happier in the last six months, through my recovery than I’ve been in my entire life. I feel whole. I feel at peace. I really feel in my power.”

Over the weekend, Holliday opened up about her struggles with disordered eating in part because she wanted her fans and followers to stop commenting on her weight, even if it was with good intentions.

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

In the same post, Holliday acknowledged that she has lost weight because she is “healing from an eating disorder and feeding my body regularly for the first time in my entire life”.

For anyone struggling with the issues raised in this piece, eating disorder charity Beat’s helpline is available 365 days a year on 0808 801 0677.

NCFED offers information, resources and counselling for those suffering from eating disorders, as well as their support networks. Visit eating-disorders.org.uk or call 0845 838 2040.

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