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Tess Holliday's confident approach to beauty: 'Whatever makes you feel good'

For her, beauty is a journey.
Tess Holliday
Tess Holliday on Megyn Kelly TODAYNathan Congleton/TODAY
/ Source: TODAY

Many celebrities dish out manifestos about body positivity and loving yourself, flaws and all.

Tess Holliday, a body-positive model and author, lives it. She created the viral hashtag #EffYourBeautyStandards, and she showcases her curves — tattoos and all — on the new cover of Self magazine. On her Instagram feed, she wears green wigs and low-cut tops.

In short, Holliday, 32, is confidence, incarnate.

But none of this came easily to her. "Beauty means something different for everyone. It’s whatever makes you feel good," she told Megyn Kelly TODAY. "To me, beauty just means loving myself and being happy with who I am. To me, being happy is being beautiful."

Holliday, born Ryann Maegen Hoven, always loved fashion and aspired to become a model. So, she did. Now, she’s a mom of two boys, and she’s refreshingly honest. She's been open about dealing with postpartum depression and her difficult childhood: She moved 40 times before the age of 10 and dropped out of school at age 11 after being bullied. In her book, “The Not So Subtle Art of Being a Fat Girl: Loving The Skin You’re In,” she wrote about being verbally abused by her father.

"The Not So Subtle Art of Being A Fat Girl: Loving the Skin You're In," $7, Amazon

"I have good days and some days I don’t. It’s a journey. It takes a lot of work," Holliday said. "You have to take care of yourself mentally and emotionally before you can worry about the physical. Surround yourself not with ‘yes’ people, but people who are positive and uplift you."

And that's reflected in the message she imparts on her two sons.

"I have a lot of conversations with them that everyone should be respected, no matter what they look like or who they love. I let them wear what they want to wear. With my 12-year-old, having to talk about consent. It’s about respecting others," she said.

Naturally, Holliday also knows quite a bit about the hottest beauty and skin care products on the market.

Holliday's must-haves:

1. Ardell Self-Adhesive Press On Lash Whispies, $9, Amazon

"I wear them and love them."

2. Sunday Riley Auto Correct Brightening and Depuffing Eye Contour Cream, $65, Dermstore

"My mom told me to moisturize when I was 18. I’m currently using Sunday Riley’s skin care line."

3. beautyblender Sponge, $20, Amazon

"I just discovered it and everyone was laughing at me."

4. Laura Geller Beauty Baked Gelato Swirl Illuminator, $26, Nordstrom

"Laura Geller’s highlighter in Gelato is everything. I love that highlighter."

5. Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Stunna Lip Paint Longwear Fluid Lip Color, $30, Sephora

"I’m obsessed with the Stunna lip color. Rihanna's makeup artist Priscilla Ono is a good friend of mine."

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