Plus-size model and Eff Your Beauty Standards creator, Tess Holliday, has opened up about her battle with anorexia, highlighting how eating disorders are a mental illness (and that it's impossible to tell who might be dealing with one based on looks alone).
"I’m anorexic and in recovery," she tweeted. "I’m not ashamed to say it out loud anymore. I’m the result of a culture that celebrates thinness and 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."
Tess later tweeted about her formal diagnosis and shut down some of the negative comments she'd received since sharing it publicly. "Not the 'but your fat how are you anorexic?' comments," she said. "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."
The mother of two then followed up with a further candid statement about eating disorders on Instagram a few days later, adding that those who exist in bigger bodies are often made to feel shame surrounding food, which can lead to unhealthy behavioural patterns.
Tess told her two million followers how issues can take hold in childhood, too. "This is for every fat kid that never got to eat without being made aware of, reprimanded and shamed for every bite," she said. "To every person that got laughed at and humiliated for dancing, exercising, daring to love or to exist. This is for every person that has never had a chance to have a healthy relationship to food because the worlds condemnation, judgement and constant vigilance of their every move made that damn near impossible."
She continued on to acknowledge all of those for whom "eating and moving and the concept of health was punitive and hell, rather than the self care and self advocacy it should have been", before saying that merely existing in a fat body can result in trauma for so many.
"Look at how many of us have suffered so long, sometimes in secret and sometimes openly and disbelieved and unseen. Look at our pain," Tess then said. "Look at how you may be complicit in a culture that creates that, then denies its very reality. If you care about our health, care about our mental health too, because that directly impacts our physical bodies and relationship with it."
She ended her statement by saying, "The world may not be ready to have this conversation and that’s okay. But I’m here for my fat folks, for our narratives that have been invisible for so long. We deserve to exist as multidimensional human beings. We deserve to make and have room for our complex truths. We deserve to heal. We deserve to be free."
We're wishing Tess nothing but the best with her recovery, while admiring her bravery for speaking up on a topic that can be incredibly difficult to discuss.
Beat is the UK's leading charity dedicated to helping people with eating disorders. If you or someone you know is struggling and want to seek help or more information, call their helpline on 0808 801 0677 or visit their website for further details.
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