Earlier this week it was announced that Tess Holiday was going to be the next Cosmopolitan cover girl.
The American plus size model put out a tweet on Wednesday saying: “phew, I’m literally a COSMO GIRL!! Can’t believe I’m saying that! *crying emojis* Thank you Cosmopolitan for this incredible opportunity *praying emoji* If I saw a body like mine on this magazine when I was a young girl, it would have changed my life *heart emoji*.”
Quite frankly, I think this is sensational. I think this is the best news.
Not one week after Stacey Solomon shared a photograph of the cover of Now Magazine, which described her as ‘boring, desperate, cheap’, on Twitter (saying it was the meanest thing she had ever read) the fact that Cosmopolitan have made the decision to celebrate a woman celebrating herself is beautiful.
For as long as any of us have been around, magazines, as was demonstrated by the cover of Now, have been known not as women’s best friends, as they dress themselves up to be, rather glossy reminders of why we aren’t good enough.
Growing up every magazine cover I was exposed to was home either to degrading and ugly words directed to a woman in the public eye, or a beautiful, albeit very thin, woman, almost certainly airbrushed and photoshopped.
As far as I am concerned, Cosmopolitan’s decision to hire Tess should amount to nothing but air punches from women the world over.
Diversity is being acknowledged. The rules of society are changing. Beauty standards are adapting. We are winning.
Not that simple. Because, remember, we’re a load of total fucking wankers.
The reaction to this has been extraordinary.
The hate that Tess has received on Twitter has been astronomical, so much so that Tess herself has had to put out another tweet reading: “to everyone saying I’m a burden to the British health care system, I’m american so you don’t have to worry about my fat ass. Worry about what horrible people you are by whining about how me being on the cover of a glossy magazine impacts your life.”
As a Brit I am really worried. And properly, deeply ashamed.
For years we have lived in a size zero culture. I cannot tell you how many times in my life thus far I have seen a size zero woman on the front cover of a magazine. Growing up, everywhere I looked I was exposed to one body type.
A body type that, try as I might, I will never have.
And that made me decidedly unhappy as a teenager. The fact that there were never women looking like me, despite the fact I was a very healthy size 12 at the time, caused me great pain and insecurity surrounding my body that I have only been able to shake off as I reached my mid-twenties.
The fashion and beauty industry only ever hired women of a certain size and the effect that that has had on a generation is obvious. I grew up with streams of women and girls battling insecurities that amounted, in many instances, to eating disorders, body dysmorphia and self harm.
Just listen to actress Jameela Jamil talking to Channel 4 about her experiences with this this week.
The body type that the world has been exposed to for years is not healthy. For most people, size zero is not healthy.
And yet for so long it was accepted. It was normal. Frustrating for those of us that couldn’t get there, incredibly harmful as we tried, but painfully normal.
We seethed, as a society, at the bullshit pressure the media were putting on us, insinuating that this size zero, blemish free woman was what we ought to be aspiring to. But we did nothing with our rage, least of all, directing it to the cover star herself.
No matter how angry or hurt the covers in question made us, we never thought to blame the person in the pictures, like we have with Tess Holliday.
If we took issue, it was often with the publication, but even then the abuse we hurled was nothing like what Tess is receiving now. Thousands upon thousands of messages telling her how disgusting she is, how she is killing herself and how we are having to pay for her bad choices (as she points out, she’s American, it’s so not our fucking problem but why let the facts get in the way of a really shitty tweet eh?!).
Of the cover stars we are used to seeing, how many of those girls inadvertently became a ‘burden’ to the NHS when their exhausted or malnourished bodies finally tired of the gruelling regime society was putting them through? We never asked. Funnily enough, our ‘faux concern’ for the healthcare system was nowhere in sight.
We didn’t scream out cries of warning when Cara Delevingne (queen, so no shade) appeared on her first magazine cover after being caught with that suspicious white powder all those years ago. We didn’t object to Kate Moss’ umpteenth cover shoot, even though she is a well renowned smoker and may one day rely on the good ol’ tax payer’s money to help fund help her breathing.
No, it seems we only worry for the ‘health’ of our models, and of course what they are doing with our hard-earned money, if they are not entirely aesthetically appealing to us.
Jared Monroe shared the photo of the cover on Twitter with the caption: “Amazing how well they photoshopped out the dialysis machine“. I think he thought he was being funny, and more worryingly still, so did his followers – all of them chiming in with pithy jibes at her weight.
We’re all for plus size! they coo, BUT OBESITY ISN’T SEXY AND IT ISN’T HEALTHY.
Alright honeys. Nor is starving yourself, or smoking, or doing loads of drugs. But let’s take umbrage with her weight specifically shall we?
And let’s pretend, whilst we are at it, that we are kicking off because we ‘care’.
Because we really care about Tess Holliday’s health. Because we really, really care about the health of the young people that she will be directly affecting by telling them that it is okay to be fat.
And while we are pretending. Let’s pretend for a minute, that this bullying, fat shaming culture isn’t going to be massively detrimental to the mental health of men and women up and down the country.
Let’s pretend that our bullying, nasty, abusive tweets are okay because we CARE about the wellbeing of other people.
Sure, it might hurt your feelings as we bat the living shit out of your self-esteem you plus sized girls, but you’ll be grateful when you don’t have diabetes!!!!
Give me a fucking break.
Tess Holliday isn’t promoting obesity and Cosmopolitan are not promoting obesity.
And I will be very, very surprised if obesity rates spike thanks to this one time a girl with a different body shape than what we are used to appeared on the front cover of Cosmopolitan Magazine.
What Tess Holliday is doing, or more specifically, what Cosmo are doing by hiring Tess Holliday is championing, finally, a woman who dared to be different. A woman who receives unthinkable abuse every day, but who keeps going. A woman who loves herself, in spite of everything society has told her.
What Cosmopolitan AND Tess Holliday are doing is showing women everywhere that it is okay.
That you can be happy at any size.
And that is fucking beautiful.
The problem here isn’t with Tess or with Cosmopolitan. The problem, is with all of us.
A world riddled with insecurity, exhausted from being told that we aren’t good enough, who can’t help but to explode into a fit of vitriolic abuse when we see a fat woman succeeding at anything.
Cosmopolitan has long since been my favourite magazine. It spoke to me about sex when no-one else would, it showed me makeup my mum wouldn’t let me buy, and it taught me things about relationships my boyfriend is probably pretty thankful for now.
And this week it showed us all that it was ready to drag the glossy magazines into the future by embracing body positivity in a way that was well overdue
I am incredibly grateful, not just to Tess but to Cosmopolitan themselves, for broadening their horizons and finally letting plus size women all over this miserable nation into a club that they should have been invited to a long time ago.
And to anyone taking the time to moan on Twitter about how this magazine is promoting obesity, let me impart some sex advice of my own: you can go and fuck yourself.