In the age of Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, there doesn't seem to be need for big old boxes of photos collecting dust, as our lives are captured and digitally preserved. And thanks to Facebook's "On This Day" feature, it's even easier to recall and re-share moments from the past. That's what makes plus-sized model Tess Holliday's Instagram showing her 10 years later so awesome: She juxtaposed two identically composed photos, showing fans how much her life had changed in just a decade. For single moms, for aspiring models, for all women, actually — Holliday's 10 years later post is an inspiration.
The "x years later" meme is hardly novel and can make for some pretty hilarious reenactment photos, especially reenacted baby photos. But what makes Holliday's so particularly powerful is the sheer vulnerability of her first photo: A 21-year-old single mom with her son perched on her knee. As Holliday noted in a lengthy caption to the photo, she "had no job, no money, & a dream of one day being a model or makeup artist." In the photo of her 10 years later, Holliday looks radiant with her second son on her knee. At 31, Holliday has already been named one of the top six plus-size models in the world by Vogue Italia and is the force behind the body-positive #effyourbeautystandards movement on social media.
The story of Holliday's journey from being a single mom in 2006 to an internationally recognized fashion model in 2016 is as moving as it is empowering. Holliday's Instagram caption read in part:
I was constantly worried about our future & ached to make a mark in the world, to be able to support myself & son doing something I loved. Now, 10 years later, my oldest son (in the first photo) turns 11 next month & his little brother is 6 months old today Not only am I supporting my family doing something I love, I have a supportive partner & I'm a freakin' size 22 model! Sometimes I don't think I fully comprehend how amazing it is that my dream not only came true, it shattered the expectations of what society said a model "should" look like.
Holliday also spoke of how her 21-year-old self probably wouldn't believe her if she could talk to that scared younger version of herself. It almost does seem unbelievable that, if she could travel back in time, she'd tell a younger Holliday that she would be regarded as a trailblazer for plus-size fashion and the modeling industry less than 10 years later.
As a fellow women in her 30s, I can relate to so much of what Holliday said about doing something she love. When I was 21, I was just so pumped I could finally buy wine for myself — but I didn't really have a clue what I'd be doing once I graduated college. Now, over 10 years later, I have the privilege of doing what I love — writing and advocacy — and getting paid for it, no less. Much like the feelings Holliday describes in her 10 years later post, it's at once humbling and inspiring to look back and see how you've grown over the years.
Holliday's post most surely resonates even more so with women who have much more in common with her, from her career aspirations to navigating single motherhood. As the year draws to a close, Holliday's inspiring post gives us pause to stop and take stock for where we've been, for what we're grateful, and how far we've come.