Unless you’ve taken recluse in a cave this past week, you’ve no doubt heard Cosmopolitan UK put Tess Holliday on its October issue cover.
For those of you who don’t know Holliday, the 33-year-old is an American body-positivity activist, model and author who achieved notoriety for being the largest plus-size model to sign to a mainstream modelling agency.
Her body type also fits the clinical definition for morbidly obese.
Cue bigots having a field day when her image hit newsstands around the UK on Friday, immediately decrying the cover was “dangerously unhealthy”. (You know, because women’s magazine covers have, until now, exclusively featured “healthy” bodies. *Eyeroll*)
“As Britain battles an ever-worsening obesity crisis, this is the new cover of Cosmo. Apparently we’re supposed to view it as a ‘huge step forward for body positivity.’ What a load of old baloney,” Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan scoffed to millions of impressionable viewers this week.
Because, obviously, the mere act of Holliday’s image existing in the public eye means Donut Kings will now be overrun and green grocer stores burned to the ground on an international scale.
Consequently, Morgan would like us to maintain a firm grasp on our disgust for people like Holliday, so as not to forget what a true “danger” they pose to society.
WHAT A LOAD OF COMPLETE AND UTTER BS.
Not for one moment in her entire career as a body-positive activist has Holliday ever uttered the words “obesity is cool”.
What she has said, for anyone bothering to clear the wax out of their ears and actually listen, is it’s OKAY to exist without hating yourself if you don’t fit the cultural body standard.
Her message is one of self-love and acceptance. It couldn’t be further removed from physical and metabolic health if she hung a sign around her neck saying: ‘FYI: Not a doctor’.
And her message is solid, given researchers have been highlighting the link between low body image and depression and suicide for decades now.
But don’t worry about that. You can gloss right over your bullying and your bigotry by dressing the issue up in your “concern” for the health of women.
You know, the same women you’ve been hypersexualising and reducing to a gender that seemingly exists solely for the purpose of pleasing men like Piers Morgan?
Please. Get over yourself. And while you’re at it, go read some actual literature on morbid obesity.
You might learn it’s no more a “choice” than any other eating disorder, mental illness or addiction. That, in fact, it’s strongly correlated with sexual assault, in women in particular; one of the many topics Holliday has bravely spoken out about.
But, sure, go on and reduce her to her appearance. The number on her bathroom scale. Something she’s no doubt spent a lifetime learning to live with.
Just make sure you don’t smoke, drink alcohol, have unprotected sex or anything in between before you weigh in.
Because if you’re truly “concerned” for women’s wellbeing, you’ll remember this before you open your mouth or take to your keyboard:
Nobody’s perfect. And that includes you.
Nadia Bokody is a sex-positive journalist, media commentator and mental health advocate with no concept of TMI. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, HuffPost, Cosmopolitan, Thought Catalog, and many more. Follow her on Instagram here