As a professional bra fitter, I meet women regularly who have never felt beautiful in their own skin and this is exactly why I opened Pinned Up! It’s so much more than a bra, but being able to find something that many women would consider to be an essential wardrobe item in a size and style that fits and is beautiful! As a social worker with a foundation in studying intersectionality and then going on to working with victims of horrible and unthinkable acts of abuse and neglect, I’ve seen firsthand how the trauma one experiences weaves itself into your being and sneaks and roars its head in areas of your life that you would never imagine! Being a woman is so much more than our sex and gender. It collides with so many other facets of our lives such as being overweight, being a mother or not being a mother, being a minority, the privilege of not being a minority, experiencing unspeakable trauma, having a disability, age, social class and more. Not knowing anything about Tess Holliday when reading Piers Morgan’s post, my first thought was how his opinion is loaded with assumptions about her identities without seeing how her identities might intersect and inform each other.
When you have power in the media your words matter! I wonder what it was about this cover that made him feel he needed to speak? To make a statement about someone else’s perceived worth sends a dangerous message and when you are a public figure in the media space you help determine who society believes is worthy. What is harmful is the assumption implied in his post and the comments that beauty and health come in a singular form along with the assumption that a person is overweight solely because they eat too much or are too lazy. There are things such a genetics and other health conditions, mental health issues and certain medications that can also cause weight gain (hello birth control and anti-depressants). The statements that one should eat less and work out more ignores the possible underlying issues, thus creating an ongoing battle that often results in self-hatred that makes it even more difficult to overcome.
A statement such as Mr. Morgan’s implies that I as a plus size women will see Tess Holiday on Cosmo and I might suddenly believe that I will be accepted anywhere in anyway, so it’s okay if I go to my refrigerator and stuff my face with whatever food I find. News Flash, the opposite happens! Seeing her on the cover does not spark some deep-down desire to gain weight but helps me to confront the thoughts I have such as “I am not pretty enough,” “I am not smart enough,” “I am not talented enough!”
Seeing Tess Holliday on the cover is like a fresh cup of clean water being poured into the dirty pool of thoughts I have about myself. When you pour clean water in to a cup with dirty water the water becomes a little less dirty! The constant self-doubt that has created dirty and muddy waters in my mind from subtle and not so subtle messages I receive daily from media and the world around. When you begin to believe in yourself and are confident in yourself that’s where you start to be able to continue to receive clean water. So, the more often I see women of various sizes, skin color, age and ability, the more women are able relate and feel good about themselves! The more I feel good about myself the more I begin to value myself. The water in my mind becomes cleaner and cleaner and it is easier to take steps to towards things that I would like to change, such as my weight.
Seeing Tess Holiday on the cover leads me think about how she has been able to step on her struggles and has become a confident public figure and ways that I too can take back my control and confidence. Does she have it all figured out, probably not. No one does! It is long road to the that our differences are celebrated, and a person can stand strong in their foundation of self-love, confidence and openness without another feeling as though it is their responsibility to tear them down.