British Columbia

Plus size model Tess Holliday 'liberates women in the media'

For Louis Green, the news that a plus-sized model has been signed by a major agency means liberalization for all female body types

It’s not about weight-loss, it’s about health, says Green

Tess Holliday became the first size 22 supermodel signed to a major modelling agency. (Facebook/Tess Holliday)

With the weather warming up, a trip to the local pool or lake is in order for a lot of British Columbians. For some though, that first summer dip may come with initial dread over squeezing into a swimsuit after a winter of cozy comfort food.

But what would happen if the worrying over losing weight shifted to focus more on being healthy and celebrating the body you have?

That's the message American plus size model Tess Holliday is trying to send to the fashion world. The 29-year-old is the first size 22 supermodel to land a major modelling deal with MiLk management in London, England.

"I think it's pretty incredible. It's been a long time coming," Louise Green told BC Almanac's Michelle Eliott. Green is the owner of The Body Exchange, a fitness group dedicated to plus size women.

"I opened my business in 2008 and incredible changes have happened since then. You would have never seen this happen seven years ago."

Green says she started her company after she couldn't find a place to feel comfortable in her body shape.

"I didn't see my body represented in society. I still don't see it a lot but we're seeing changes with that."

She says having Tess signed to a major modelling deal sends a message to the fashion world that all body types should be represented to promote an accurate perspective of health.

"The plus sized woman is being liberated in the media. It isn't about weight loss, it's about getting healthy at any size."

Listeners offer their thoughts

Derek from Vancouver:

I appreciate women of all shapes and sizes and how a person looks doesn't have anything to do with what kind of person they are. I work in the entertainment industry and so I think a lot of it comes down to advertising. I can't see any reason why the government doesn't make it so that in advertising, there's fair display of body shape and size.

Rodey emailed in to write:

It makes sense to open fashion up to a full range of healthy body types but not to pathological ones, both anorexic and fat. Obesity causes all manners of health problems - from diabetes to heart disease. We need the shame of obesity to help motivate people to battle the cravings.

Louise Green says things aren't that simple

"I think what happens with obese people, like what is happening with Tess, is that as soon as she celebrates herself, everyone points to the figure and says 'you're unhealthy and don't deserve to be celebrated.' I don't see it as a celebration, I see it as a liberation.

Jane from Vancouver Island:

"I am somebody who has suffered for decades with a life-threatening eating disorder. As someone who is extremely underweight, I want to emphasize that in my heart I believe in the healthy every-size-approach. You can't determine somebody's help by how heavy they are." 

John from Victoria:

The same goes for men. All men in the ads are super fit. Men in adverts are great looking models who are young and superfit and make an unrealistic vision of what an average man can look like.

Sarah wrote in to say:

I work as an eating disorder therapist and see the impact of body shaming and see the narrow view of beauty and fitness.


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