Oh my God. There is a fat woman on the front of Cosmopolitan magazine.
I for one couldn’t believe it. My shock wasn’t born out of distaste for her big jiggly tummy or chubby thighs. But, the fact that a fat person was featured in all of her wonderful glory on a front of a mainstream magazine.
Tess Holliday is a model based in Los Angeles. She is fat. Calm down, fat isn’t an insulting word. It’s the opposite to thin. But you’d probably be OK with me saying thin. Think about that. Also, you might feel better in the knowledge that I am fat. I don’t know why, but fat people talking about fat people seems to be more acceptable to some.
So, fat model Tess Holliday is asked to be the cover girl. Great for her, great for her career, and great for Cosmopolitan. But wait, does that mean Cosmopolitan wants me to be fat? Does this mean I have to now gain weight? For the longest time I thought I had to complete some 937-day maple syrup, pepper detox, or cut out gluten, dairy, meat, taste and flavour to be skinny? Because after all, nothing tastes as good as skinny feels (by the way it does, and that thing is a salted caramel chocolate bomb).
Sigh. Why are people so utterly ridiculous? It’s as though the cover was accompanied with an article titled the 20 best cream cakes to pile of the pounds, or how to blend a lard smoothie to really bring out the rolls around your middle. Why when people see a fat person do they automatically connect it with health and their own mortality? I think it is fair to say that being overweight can be linked to health problems, but so can putting tin cans in the fridge.
However, obesity is a multi-factorial, complex condition resulting from a combination of environmental, lifestyle and psychological factors. It can also be hereditary. So, if your granny has a big fat butt and bingo wings, you might have just scored a full house in the genetics lottery. The problem is that we have carved our own normal.
I wasn’t even going to pen this blog but hell hath no fury like a woman watching Good Morning Britain and seeing Piers Morgan spew his miseducated, cruel tripe about this particular subject. He said that having Tess on the cover, is pretty much glorifying obesity and setting a terrible standard for young women. Tess is apparently recruiting young women to become fat because it’s OK. It’s very strange to me to jump to that conclusion. Again, the headline and accompanying article were not pro fat, but pro confidence and acceptance. The whole point of the cover is to address healthy attitudes to YOUR body, not that obesity is going to kill you. For decades we’ve seen slim women on the front of magazines, women who are at the extreme end of thinness, now we have a woman who is large and pushes the boundaries the other way. You could say both are ‘unhealthy’, but to say this in the case of this Cosmo cover is downright ignorant. And, you’re kind of missing the bigger picture.
All Piers Morgan has successfully done is make bullying and fat shaming acceptable. You only have to go on the comments section of any article, or on Tess’s Instagram page to see a tirade of hateful abuse directed towards her and her physicality. I would happily say that Piers Morgan’s insipid, small minded and outright bullish behaviour is thrice as harmful to society than a fat girl on a magazine.
Hopefully this is the beginning of Cosmopolitan featuring a diverse range of body types on their cover. Bodies that are marginalised. Bodies that are hidden and not celebrated in mainstream media. Today being slim – but with a little bit of curves, flat stomach, good-sized breasts and a pear shapes butt is the dream we’ve been sold. If we look back over the course of history our idea of the perfect body type has dramatically shifted from decade to decade. Take a look at the sculpture of the The Venus of Willendorf, a statue crafted around 25,000 years ago.
This lovely lady has big old boobs, hips and a wobbly belly. Statues of the time all have no head, because eyelash and hair extensions, along with contouring and lipstick weren’t high on the agenda. It was about having a big strong child bearing body, a body that was physically intimidating should you have to fight off a bear.
As time has moved on, we’ve seen every generation hold onto certain value due to the state of the world at that given time. It just so happens that in 2018, our world is absolutely of its rocker.
Tess being on the cover of a magazine isn’t saying ‘come and be fat with me’, its saying ‘look how proud and confident I am in my body even though it doesn’t conform to a convention’. It is a stake in the ground to say ‘I am here, I exist and all the women who look like this, I see you’. And, what a brilliant message to put out there into the world.