Body-positivity and plus-size Instagram stars have helped spread the very-much-needed message that beauty really does come in all shapes and sizes, but in a recent social media post, model Tess Holliday took that one step further and let it be known that women don't actually give up their desire to feel attractive just because they have kids. Though she's no stranger to controversy and judgmental comments from internet trolls, the truth is that Tess Holliday posts sexy photos to Instagram to show that "moms deserve to be desired," and honestly, it's a message that women don't hear nearly enough as they should.
In the post, Holliday, a mom of two boys, shared a series of photos in which she is either posing in underwear, or pictured either partially or fully naked. Shared in between the photos? Screenshots of the types of comments she receives regularly from "fans" telling her how much more they like seeing her covered up, or suggesting, in one case, that "[Some things] should be left for just your husband," (funny how rarely people leave comments like that on photos of scantily-clad Sports Illustrated models). As infuriating as that must be, Holliday chose to use that criticism to make an important point: that there's no reason why women should feel uncomfortable with expressing their sexuality, just because of their body size, or because they've given birth.
Wait... what? So because I’m a mom, I have to hide my body? Y’all know how babies are made right? ... All of a sudden I have kids & my sexuality is stripped from me, at a time when most moms desperately need to feel good about themselves?! Nah, I don’t think so.
The model went on to argue that all women deserve to feel sexy if they want, and that there's no reason why having kids or being fat suddenly means they're supposed to cover up. And, as far as she's concerned, her young boys are all the better for it:
Fat women deserve to feel sexy, moms deserve to feel desired & wanted, & if we want to dress 'slutty' then y’all can deal with it or keep scrolling. I’m not ashamed of my sexuality & my boys understand now at a young age that their mom is a strong, resilient woman that lives life by my rules. My husband is proud of who I am & doesn’t try to silence me because that’s what a good partner does.
Holliday's post is a big deal, because the notion that having kids means you suddenly have to adhere to some arbitrary notion of modesty is something that largely goes unchecked in our society. At the same time that airbrushed reality stars are posing on magazine covers in bikinis to show that they've "got their bodies back" after baby (why is that even a thing, anyway?), we're condemning women who don't choose to automatically cover themselves up, and place society's expectations about what "good mothers" look like ahead of their own needs and desires as women.
It's far from being the first time that Holliday has spoken out about the fact that fat women and/or mothers are — gasp — also regular human beings, though. For one, she explained to People that even though it's not something that's often shown on screen (at least, not in an honest, sincere way), plus-sized people want, and have, just as much sex as everybody else:
People think that if you’re fat or plus size, we’re not getting it like everybody else, and we are! I’m tired, so maybe it’s not as often as I wish, but we do, and we feel sexy. We just want to feel sexy and seen, you know, and it’s good that people hopefully listen.
And, for good measure, she also made sure to clarify that she was more than comfortable using the word "fat," choosing to reclaim it from its often-cruel and judgmental connotations. She said,
['Fat' is] how I describe myself. It’s a descriptor; it’s an adjective. You know, it’s how I choose to describe my body. I thought why not have fun with it, why not shock people. It’s kind of what I’ve been about.
Although Holliday's Instagram post unsurprisingly inspired its fair share of critical comments, it also struck an important chord with many of her followers, who appreciated the fact that she continues to have the courage to be who she is so unapologetically. After all, it's Holliday's example that lets the rest of us know that we can accept ourselves too, no matter what we look like, or what roles we may play in life.
I can't exactly say that I'll be posting naked photos of myself on the internet anytime soon, but Holliday's message is a reminder that, if I did, I shouldn't have to feel ashamed about making that choice. Because outside of children needing mothers who don't cover themselves up in public, they need to see us embracing who we are, insecurities and all.
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