Watch a Size-22 Model Show Women How to Get Bikini-Body Ready

Tess Holliday’s not following the advice offered by most lifestyle magazines.
Jun 8, 2015·
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

It’s an annual ritual that women’s magazines and websites start promoting right after the food-filled holiday season ends: getting your body ready for a bikini. Ladies are expected to diet and exercise so they don’t offend their fellow pool and beach goers with any extra flab around their midsection. If they haven’t toned their abs and rear enough by the time summer rolls around, they’d better read up on tips for how to not look fat in a one-piece swimsuit.

Tess Holliday, the size-22 model who has taken the fashion industry by storm, is having none of the body shaming that comes along with swimsuit season. The stunner has teamed up with plus-size fashion brand Simply Be for a short-and-sweet tutorial on the steps a woman should take to get her bod ready to rock a bikini.

Step one: Buy a bikini. Step two: Put on the bikini.

The video’s uncomplicated instructions seem to be part of the growing backlash against the idea that a woman can only sport a swimsuit in public if she resembles a Victoria’s Secret model. Indeed, as part of the recent campaign against U.K.-based supplement maker Protein World’s “Are You Beach Body Ready” advertisements, women began tweeting pictures of themselves in bikinis along with the instruction “How to get a beach body: Take your body to the beach.” Thanks to the negative publicity, the controversial ads were banned by Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority.

So, Why Should You Care? The pressure to conform to a beauty standard of thinness causes plenty of anxiety when summer arrives. A 2007 survey of 500 women by Fitness magazine found that half of respondents had turned down an invitation to an event, such as a pool party, that would require wearing a swimsuit. Nearly 20 percent of women who responded said they’d rather walk on hot coals or go to the dentist than wear a swimsuit in public. But thousands of fans of Holliday are taking to social media to share how her video tutorial is inspiring them to be more confident about their bodies.

“Tess! Because of you I bought a bikini this year! I’m 27 and haven’t worn one since I was 9! Feeling beautiful and confident! Thank you again for being YOU!” wrote Camille Sweet-Moon on Holliday’s Facebook page.

RELATED: Overweight? Instagram Might Delete Your Bikini Selfies

Impressionable girls who are bombarded with images of slim celebrities in two-piece swimsuits are also likely to feel the need to skip a bit of fun in the sun if they don’t feel thin enough. According to data from the National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders, nearly half of girls in grades 5–12 said they have wanted to lose weight because of magazine images.

Mom Loralea Harper shared on Holliday’s Facebook page how the video tutorial made her think about her own body confidence and that of her daughter.

“My daughter is 10, and when she tries on clothes or a bikini, she says ‘Wow, I look awesome, Mom.’ I don’t even remember the last time I said that in the [changing] room,” she wrote. “But I do know that I want my daughter to continue thinking this way. I want her to keep this positive body image as she grows up, unlike what I had when I was growing up.”

However, as tends to be the case whenever an advertisement featuring Holliday hits the mainstream, critics on the video’s YouTube page are accusing the model of promoting obesity. Nearly one-third of Americans are obese, which leads to a slew of health problems, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. But in this clip, Holliday seems to not be bothered by her detractors’ claims that she’s contributing to the nation’s health woes.