This week, Tess Holliday shared that she is in recovery from anorexia. The model and activist posted the revelation on Twitter and Instagram, apparently in response to comments about her recent weight loss. Comments like these can be extremely triggering for anybody recovering from an eating disorder (ED), she explained.
“I’m anorexic & in recovery. I’m not ashamed to say it out loud anymore,” Holliday tweeted on May 1. “I’m the result of a culture that celebrates thinness & 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 & I am finally free.”
Holliday, who has for years called out fatphobia, weight discrimination, and concern trolling about her health, elaborated on this message in a May 2 Instagram post. “To everyone that keeps saying ‘you’re looking healthy lately’ or ‘You are losing weight, keep it up!’ Stop,” she wrote. “Don’t. Comment. On. My. Weight. Or. Perceived. Health. Keep. It. To. Yourself. Thanks.”
Her weight has changed while she practices regular eating patterns to help her body recover from the restrictive eating that characterizes anorexia, she explained. “Yes, I’ve lost weight—I’m healing from an eating disorder & feeding my body regularly for the first time in my entire life.”
The model laid out for followers why, exactly, conflating weight and health is so harmful: It promotes the thin ideal, fatphobia, and diet culture. “When you equate weight loss with ‘health’ & place value & worth on someone’s size, you are basically saying that we are more valuable now because we are smaller & perpetuating diet culture… & that’s corny as hell. NOT here for it.”
In reality, research tells us that the connection between body weight and health is much more layered and complex than our popular understanding, SELF reported previously. The idea that someone is automatically healthy because they’re thin or automatically unhealthy because they’re fat is both oversimplified and heavily misinformed by weight stigma in medicine and dietetics.
Holliday also explained why focusing on someone’s appearance, including making comments or compliments on weight loss, is specifically triggering for individuals in ED recovery. “For folks like me that are trying to reframe our relationships with our bodies & heal, hearing comments about weight is triggering as hell. It sets us back in our progress,” Holliday wrote.
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