This week, plus size diva Tess Holliday (Munster) made modeling history as being the largest model to be signed to a major modeling agency. Her beauty and talent as a model is what caught the attention of Milk Model Management, and how refreshing is it to see the fashion industry including a more diverse talent pool. Beauty is beauty, after all!
When I learned of Tess’ historic signing, I couldn’t help but think if only she and other models like her had been around when I was a struggling young professional actor/dancer, I would have not gone through the madness I did.
When I was a size 8/10 (pictured below), I kept getting small character parts and not being taken seriously as a dancer (I thought).
As a result, I convinced myself I needed to be skinner to get better roles. So over the course of a year, I upped my workouts, cut sugar and a lot of fat out of my diet, and got down to a size 4.
Everyone noticed. Suddenly I started to be seen as a leading lady/sexpot type for casting. However, I constantly lived every day in fear that the weight would come back. If the weight came back, would all the attention and roles go away? Convinced that gaining weight would ruin everything, food became the enemy. So I decided if a size 4 was good, a 2 must be better. That’s what the leading ladies in Hollywood wear….
During this time, I was living on coffee, water, protein bars and plain veggies. I’d get up at 6 am and run for 45 minutes before starting the day, then come home and work out again (this time including hundreds of crunches). I’d then go out at night, dancing until the wee hours and drink a lot of booze. If I didn’t follow my food/exercise regimen EXACTLY, I was a failure and add “punishment exercises” the next day. Little did I realize how miserable I was.
The tipping point came when I went on an audition for a musical. The part called for a lot of dancing, and I was ready. After rocking the dance combinations, those of us who “made the cut” stood in a line before the choreographer and director.
They looked at each of us, quietly whispering (not that quiet, mind you) comments as they took note.
“Good execution, pretty. Need to hear her sing again.”
“Not sure yet. Maybe.”
These kind of comments escaped their little bubble, making all of us anxious. Then, they glanced at me.
“Really good…a bit thick, though.”
I was stunned. After we were dismissed, I couldn’t get the words out of my ears. I was a size 2, and losing my mind trying to stay that way.
Devastated, I threw out my scale.
Flash forward several years, my weight has fluctuated a bit. After my back injury, I became the heaviest I’ve ever been, but you know what? I don’t care.
I’ve been gradually become more active, focusing on getting my strength & flexibility back. I’ve cut out soda and drink more water. I try to watch the amount of sugar I eat. All I want is to feel healthy. I don’t give a shit what size that will be. No one will ever determine my self-worth again.
So here’s to you, Tess. Thank you for showing us all that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.
Love, laughter, and shoes –