Plus-sized model and body positivity activist Tess Holliday recently opened up about battling with an eating disorder, being diagnosed as an anorexic and that she was on the road to recovery. On May 1, the 35-year-old blogger took to her Twitter feed and shared, “I’m anorexic and in recovery. I’m not ashamed to say it out loud anymore. I’m the result of a culture that celebrates thinness and equates that to worth, but I get to write my own narrative now. I’m finally able to care for a body that I’ve punished my entire life and I am finally free.” However, the make-up artist’s statement led to divided comments on the internet, with many refuting the diagnosis while others lauded her for opening up the conversation around how any body type can suffer from eating disorders like anorexia nervosa.
A follower tweeted, “Anorexic???? I think you mean body dysmorphia…”, while another commented, “It’s actually insulting to people who are starving themselves to death.” Another noted, “I’m pretty sure u can’t be diagnose with anorexia nervosa, it a medical requirement that you’re underweight for that diagnosis, maybe you’re diagnosed with atypical anorexia but not AN.”
However, several supported the social media influencer, one read, “It’s so important that people know that anyone of any shape or size can have anorexia,” Another wrote, “You don’t owe anyone an explanation about your health. Unless they’re your doctor, they can take their opinions and choke on them,” and also, “Thank you for speaking out about this. It’s so important that people know that anyone of any shape or size can have anorexia. I hope you’re getting lots of support.”
In an interview with Good Morning America on Thursday, Tess shared, “I always thought that I overate. But then, people in my life would say, ‘Oh yeah, I ate more than Tess’ and it was almost like I wore it as a badge of honor.”
She also opened up about all the hate she had been getting ever since she opened up about her diagnosis, saying, “I’ve had a lot of messages from folks that are anorexic that are livid and angry because they feel like I’m lying. I am plus size, but advocating for diversity and larger bodies, and so I think for people hearing me say I’m anorexic was really jarring and hard and confusing.”
In a tweet from May 2, Tess address all those who were calling her diagnosis a fake, sharing, “Not the “but your fat how are you anorexic” comments. Y’all don’t know how science & body works huh. My technical diagnosis is anorexia nervosa & yes, I’m still not ashamed. I’m too damn happy for y’all to even come close to dimming my shine. (sic)”
Sharing her interview with GMA to her Instagram feed, Tess addressed the hate as well as the love she had recieved ever since she shared her diagnosis. She wrote, “The last few days have been some of my toughest to date since becoming a public figure. The hate has been overwhelming, but the messages from those of you that felt seen, validated, and loved far outweigh the critics. I’m responding to as many of y’all as I can, but I will be taking a little social break after this to focus on my own mental health. Just remember that having an ED isn’t shameful and you deserve respect and love regardless of where you’re at in your journey with your body. Love y’all. (sic)”
According to National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), anorexia is characterized by “weight loss, difficulties maintaining an appropriate body weight for height, age, and stature; and distorted body image.” People with this disorder also restrict calories, control the types of food they eat, use laxative, purge by vomiting, exercise compulsively and may also binge eat. However, a person need not be underweight to be anorexic. According to NEDA, “Studies have found that larger-bodied individuals can also have anorexia, although they may be less likely to be diagnosed due to cultural prejudice against fat and obesity.” This is known as Atypical Anorexia, and the atypical means that the patient is of normal weight or over weight.
Tess had also shared a long post on Instagram as a nod to those who suffered from eating disorders, body dysmorphia and other issues related to their body image simply because they did not fit the mainstream narrative of beauty.