Emma Helleur: Why Piers Morgan is wrong about plus size models

Publish Date
Thursday, 4 October 2018, 9:30AM

A few weeks ago, American plus-size model Tess Holliday appeared on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine and fat girls all around the world rejoiced "she’s just like us!", but it didn’t take long for the hatred and negativity to start.

The loudest of the bunch has been Piers Morgan who even wrote an open letter to Tess about her weight and health. He even went as far as to tweet that she badly needs new friends who will be honest with her about her weight. The absolute audacity of them calling their friend beautiful, how dare they be supportive.

The reason behind his tirade, claiming that there is no way that someone of her weight can be healthy, and obesity can kill. He’s not wrong. But you know what else can kill? Mental health issues brought on from being bullied and feeling insecure about your weight.

Tess' campaign "eff your beauty standards isn’t about physical health, (even though she trains four times a week) it’s about mental health.

In 2016, an 18-year-old girl took her own life as a result of merciless online bullying about her weight. In 1997 it was a 13-year-old girl, in 2011 a 14-year-old girl, and there have been so many more.

In 2016 a Korean study found that "weight control failure is associated with an increased risk of suicidal ideation among obese women", and this is not the only study. Just quickly google 'body image issues and suicide' or 'body image issues and depression' and you will find article after article, study after study.

In the Cosmopolitan article, Tess says that she created the campaign out of frustration. "I was angry and sad that people kept commenting on my pictures saying 'you’re too fat to wear that' or 'cover-up' and then one night I was lying in bed and thought 'f**k that!' so I posted an image of four photographs of myself wearing things that fat women are often told 'we can’t wear' and I encouraged others to do the same".

Tess becoming a worldwide icon and role model for the plus sized, along with others like Ashley Graham - the first plus sized model to appear on Sports Illustrated - and New Zealand’s own Meagan Kerr are not trying to tell us that being overweight is healthy.

They’re not trying to convince us that being obese is for the best. They’re trying to stop girls as young as 5 years old saying they’re fat and need to diet. They’re trying to stop a generation of girls from growing up hating themselves.

And I absolutely support Tess and Meagan and Ashley, because I was one of those girls.

2018 is the year of the full-length photo. I spent 20 years doing everything I could to avoid a full body photo as I tried to master the selfie. I spent 20 years feeling insecure, ugly and hating myself because I didn’t look like my friends.

But thanks to Tess and her cover on Cosmopolitan magazine there is an uprising of plus size girls (and lads) saying eff your beauty standards. No longer will I wear an oversized sack so you’re no offended by my fat rolls. No longer will I hate myself because society says I have to be a size 10.

Just you watch, us fat girls are coming for the beauty industry.

Where to get help:

 Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
 Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Need To Talk: 0800 1737 or TXT 1737 (available 24/7)
 Youthline: 0800 376 633
 Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
 Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
 Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
 Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
 Samaritans 0800 726 666
 If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.