Tess Holliday and Obesity

Evaluating the Tess Holliday controversy

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Obesity Meme

Disclaimer: This is an opinion of mine so please take it with a grain of salt and please understand where I am coming from, if you disagree, then I applaud you to let me know why.

The idea behind this article is to explore the controversy which happened surrounding Tess Holliday appearance on Cosmopolitan and mostly give my own opinions of the controversy.

What happened was that people thought Tess Holliday appearance on a huge magazine would promote Obesity to a wide range of audience, this has sparked a debate around Obesity and how dangerous promoting it would have on the society’s health.


Obesity is the state of gaining weight while not burning it off, causing it to form fat in the body and it’s calculated using a BMI. The more the BMI, the more obese you are and the more dangerous your health is at risk. Some risks include type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and some types of cancer e.g. breast cancer. This usually causes the death of 2.8 million people a year, it is the fifth leading risk for global deaths, 65% of the population live in countries with overweight and obese people etc.

Source: and

The purpose of this article is to try and defence Tess Holliday. My defence comes in the fact of how is health really defined? And what was her motive?

But first, what is health?

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”


It is the physical, mental and social well-being of a person, not just the absence of disease or infirmity. Tess Holliday showing up on cosmopolitan was to help people who were fat. By appearing on that cover, she could have potentially helped people mentally due to giving them a sense of self-confidence due to them being represented. Thus, improving their mentality and helped to make them positive. Socially, people of obesity have usually been outcasts due to the stigma over the body weight and how demonized it is. Tess Holliday has helped sparked conversation over her weight, made obese people more prevalent in society and giving praise to them and trying to show they can achieve anything in society regardless of their weight. She has tried to help them in terms of their social aspect and how society views them. In terms of disease and infirmity, it is clear that obesity negatively impacts those it latches onto, as well as physical due to weight acting down on the bones.

Overall, Tess Holliday tried to impact on the health of people positively, that was the intention, and as I have shown, that can happen in certain aspects so to say it is impacting on the health of society negatively is disingenuous as it takes away other aspects of health.

What mostly shocks me and this seems like irony to me is how people blame Tess Holliday appearance is negatively impacting on society while at the same time, negatively impact society by trying to push overweight people away from professions like modelling, try to censor magazines from showing the type of content they want to show, attack Tess Holliday’s Weight rather than her opinions and her intentions.

Conclusion: All of this controversy seems to be a battleground of hypocrisy than it is about Obesity. I personally believe Tess Holliday’s intention was good and people have taken it out of context but at the same time, Obesity is a real issue and it’s something that needs to be carefully strode on when talking about the sensitive issue that affects lots of people. 

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