Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Is Cosmopolitan's controversial cover of Tess Holliday glamorising obesity?

I am going to be brutally honest, when I first saw this cover on the shelves of Sainsbury’s I was pissed that a magazine I adore was ‘glamorising’ obesity BUT, then I read the interview. Tess, I am deeply sorry for my disgusting judgemental first impression.

I saw people tweeting about Cosmopolitan’s front cover for the October 2018 edition featuring Tess Holliday so I went straight to the shops to pick it up. Now, that’s not unusual for me as I have never missed an issue since I was 11 years old. I would sneak a copy into my mum’s trolley as my horny arse wanted to read the sex tips (thank you Cosmo for teaching me to suck dick and be confident).

Upon the shelves filled with front covers of women and men in the shape of their life was Tess. She stood out instantly and my first thought was, “why promote obesity?”. As a woman who is ‘chubby’, ‘curvy’ or just a size 14 and has struggled with my weight all my life you would think my first reaction would to be overjoyed that such an influential magazine was featuring a woman of Tess’ size. Finally, a magazine is embracing all sizes but I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t feel that way… at first.

Let me break it down to why I wasn’t in support. I know how hard it is to lose weight, I know that when I’m sad I eat, I can’t go out in public without thinking that everyone is looking at me thinking how fat I am. It’s my biggest insecurity and it eats me alive every single day (pun intended). I may be a minority but I like looking at women who are in shape on Instagram and in magazines as it is the only thing that motivates me. These women who are fit and healthy inspire me – they don’t make me feel bad about myself as I choose to let it inspire me instead.

Personally, I was worried that impressionable girls like myself would see this front cover and carry on their unhealthy lifestyles.

But how f*cking selfish is that? Who am I to judge Tess’ or Cosmopolitan’s choices? For years magazines ran front pages with women on the opposite end of the scale so why the hell should they not also celebrate bigger women?

I felt sick from guilt when I opened up to the first page of the interview and saw in massive text “She cried just minutes before this picture was taken”. I then remembered all the tweets I had read of people calling Tess fat, all the comments having ago at Cosmopolitan and the worst part is, people were tagging Tess in these horrific remarks. All of a sudden, I was imagining Tess sitting there, crying again because of the cruel words. The only time I have ever cried from someone calling me a name is when someone calls me fat or implies that I’m overweight. A girl at the pub once called me fat and in my drunken state I went home, googled how many calories were in the wine that I’d poured down my throat that evening and then I shoved my fingers down there and made myself puke until my stomach lining was appearing in the toilet bowl.

I know that’s graphic and I don’t want a pity party but I want you to realise what those comments can do to a person. Even to a person who you think is so strong that they will never break. We do.

Although the article does discuss the 5’3 ft mother-of-two 300 lbs weight, it also discusses how she is changing the modelling industry, and how like me and you, she is just human.

My favourite quote from the article is this, “My message was that everyone’s journey with their body should be respected. There is too much pressure on people to look to be a certain way”. That is what made me realise I, or anyone, should not judge the editor, Farrah Storr, for putting Tess and her size 26 body on the cover.

It is not my right, or yours, to judge how someone sees their body. It is not fair for us to judge someone’s entire existence based on their double-figure dress size. Unless you are Tess’ qualified doctor you have no right to tell her how to live or what to eat. If she says she’s healthy and happy, then let her be damn well f*cking happy.

If you actually take the time out of your precious day to read the interview then you will realise that this cover is not glamorising obesity. It is simply telling one woman's story of how she overcame her demons and is now living HER life how she wants to live it. 

If you don’t want to see happy, successful and clearly kind women on the front of your magazines then I suggest you avoid the magazine aisle as it’s here to stay.

Written by VavaViolet’s Founder and Editor-in-Chief Sophie Blackman.



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