As I wrote in my (long overdue) April 1st post, I began to find some writing inspiration last year. It wasn’t until this past January, however, that I started to get angry. Now as someone who studied journalism, public relations and marketing/advertising extensively, I know exactly what agenda setting is (thank you, Dr. Meiss). Agenda setting is giving people something to talk about without telling them what to say.
Giving people something to talk about without telling them what to say.
With agenda setting comes great power. And as Voltaire once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
In late January, London-based MiLK Model Management announced they had signed plus-size model Tess Holliday to their roster. Some of you may be innocent enough to think, “Well Mo, that’s great I guess, but what’s the big deal?” Most plus-size models fall between a size 8 and 16, and are 5’8″ or taller. The big deal is that Tess Holliday is 5’5″ and a size 22.
In short, even though she’s 3″ taller, Tess Holliday is built a lot like me.
See what I did there? 😉
I crack myself up.
I should also take a moment to mention that Tess Holliday created the #effyourbeautystandards movement. From the Eff Your Beauty Standards tumblr page:
For everyone that says we cant show our tummies, wear a pencil/form fitting skirt, wear a bikini, wear sleveless tops… YOU can! I want YOU to join the movement by wearing whatever the fuck you want- stop hiding your body because society tells you to.
We will take back our right to be a total babe regardless of our size..big OR small we all deserve to feel beautiful.
The hashtag (#effyourbeautystandards) is also hitting Twitter and Instagram as well. By the way, I found a lot of great Instagram accounts to follow just using that hashtag, in case you’re wondering.
Also, here’s a great slideshow of Tess Holliday pictures: http://www.takepart.com/photos/10-photos-show-why-size-22-woman-just-landed-major-modeling-contract
Anyways, with the announcement of Tess Holliday’s good fortune came a world-wide feeding frenzy. There were thousands of women and men who cheered Tess on, saying how beautiful she is. People were excited body diversity was going to be celebrated in addition to cultural, religious, et. al. diversity. Many were glad to see someone who is a perfect example of the “rockabilly” or “pin-up” variety made it into mainstream modeling.
Lovers are gonna love.
But if nature teaches us anything, it’s that there needs to be balance. And if lovers are gonna love, haters are going to hate. And boy, do they hate Tess Holliday.
It seemed that for every positive message left on a Facebook post promoting Holliday’s good fortune, there were three negative comments about plus size women in general. They ranged from generalities that “(Holliday) shouldn’t model because she promotes an obese lifestyle” to “Cottage cheese, anyone?” in reference to her cellulite and “#whalewatching.”
One picture, posted to Glamour magazine’s site, showed Holliday modeling a corset. Suddenly, comments were posted about how she’s promoting a “corset lifestyle.” Apparently #corsetlifestyle is also a thing. Who knew? There was absolutely no reference to the fact that Holliday, a model, may have simply been modeling a corset. No, no. Because she’s wearing a corset in ONE picture, she is therefore supporting a #corsetlifestyle.
While all of these comments were both saddening and angering, I didn’t become enraged until people began voicing their concerns about her health. The slideshow on takepart.com I shared above, for example. While the 2nd to final slide discusses waist measurements and BMI and how it all relates to diabetes, the final slide reads:
Whether or not you believe Holliday’s a healthy size, there’s no denying that her confidence is an inspiration—she’s not asking for our approval of her body. As her images prove, she already knows she’s gorgeous, and she’s working her assets like a real fashionista.
Leah Malby, the author of the Glamour article I linked to, also did something similar with the final lines of her story:
And, not for nothing, I get the concern about health matters. It’s no reason to be cruel via social media, but being too heavy can be just as dangerous as being too thin.
I may be over-analyzing here, but to me, both of these comments are decent examples of negging.
On the Meredith Vieira show, Holliday addressed health concerns beautifully.
“Health is everyone’s personal decision. It’s their choice and I think that should be respected. There are a lot of reasons people are over- or underweight. We’re all at different places in our journey,” she said. “I think it’s crap that I can’t do something amazing and be celebrated and [have] people talk about the changes I’m making instead of focusing on my size. It infuriates me.”
Holliday, who has been bullied all of her life over her size, pointed out she is still being bullied even today, and again in her interview with Vieria stated: “No one tells you that when you get older sometimes you never escape the bullying. I had no idea people could be as mean as they are when you’re an adult.”
It’s time to #stopbullying, people.