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Tess Holliday has no time for body-shamers, and that includes “concern trolls” — in other words, people who criticize her weight under the guise of expressing concern for her health.
“I'm over the moon to finally share,” she wrote. “This is totally surreal to see a fat body on the cover of a health magazine. Thank you Self for changing the game with me!”
Self also celebrated Holliday on Instagram, and the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Carolyn Kylstra, wrote a letter explaining why they chose the inspiring model as their latest cover star.
“Holliday identifies as a fat woman; we chose to give her a platform because she has insightful things to say about thriving in a world that devalues bodies of size,” she wrote.
Kylstra also criticized the practice of “concern trolling,” calling it not just counterproductive, but abusive.
Holliday echoed these messages in her interview and shared how she used to respond to people who have called her unhealthy or accused her of promoting an unhealthy lifestyle.
“In the beginning I used to say, ‘I’m healthy, my cholesterol’s fine, I don’t have high blood pressure, I don’t have diabetes,’” she told the magazine.
But eventually, she realized she didn’t have to explain herself.
“By telling people that you see a doctor, and telling people that you're healthy, it's perpetuating the abuse against bigger bodies and the mindset that we owe it to people to be healthy,” she said. “The reality is I don't owe you s--- and I don't have to prove that I'm healthy or not, because it is nobody's business.”
Holliday’s powerful message resonated with many of her 1.6 million Instagram followers.
“I think people fail to realize that health includes positive self-image,” one commenter wrote on Holliday's Self cover post. “The way you feel about yourself improves your mental health and your overall well-being as an individual. You are doing a service to all of us thick women by keeping us positive about ourselves!!”
“Thank you for being an advocate,” another woman commented. “Everyone of all body types deserves to look and feel as beautiful as we truly are. We are all worthy of being on the cover of a magazine and so much more.”
Others called the Self cover “game-changing,” “refreshing” and “revolutionary.”
Holliday also opened up in her interview about how she has maintained her positive self-image even when faced with overt abuse from internet trolls.
“When I got pregnant, I was flooded with a bunch of stuff,” she told Self. “I was flooded with, ‘You're gonna kill your baby because you're so fat,’ and, ‘Your baby's gonna come out deformed,’ which is awful to say.”
Now, she simply chooses to not engage with negative comments like that.
“I just refuse to go down that road, and to feel like I need to prove my health and my worth to people that don't care,” she said. “There's a famous quote ... ‘Never waste your time explaining yourself to people who are committed to misunderstanding you.’”
“(Y)ou can't judge other people and what they're doing with their bodies,” she said.