Plus-sized model Tess Holliday has made her mark as the largest model represented by a mainstream agency.
In the past 12 months she went from an Instagram sensation to international celebrity, featuring in Italian Vogue – vowing to change the perception of women for ever.
Representing UK-based agency, Milk Model Management, she wears an Australian size 26 and weighs more than 110 kgs.
She has more than 970,000 Facebook likes and 859,000 Instagram followers – and even met her Australian partner, Nick, after he commented on one of her photos online.
Using her popularity to her advantage, her social media campaign #effyourbeautystandards aimed to break down the traditional barriers of stick-thin models.
Ms Holliday said she wanted to change the way the fashion industry made women feel about themselves.
“I’m a plus-size model and body positive activist, which basically means I talk about issues with body image, and how media and society play a negative and positive role in our lives and relationships with our bodies,” she told the ABC.
“I started my body positive movement Eff Your Beauty Standards as my ‘Eff You’ to the ‘rules’ of what plus women are told we should and shouldn’t wear.”
The trend has sparked more than a million responses online from users backing her call for better understanding of body image issues.
But, controversial UK weight loss expert Steve Miller disagreed, and said he was outraged by the positive attention Ms Holiday was attracting, the Daily Star reported.
“I think she is setting a horrendous role model. She is normalising obesity,” Mr Miller told the Daily Star.
“She is shouting from the rooftops that you can be fat proud and clap your hands and that is irresponsible.
“Tess is getting people to eat themselves into an early grave. For some of her followers the message she is putting out there could potentially cause them an early death.”
Ms Holiday is one of a growing number of plus-sized models being accepted on the catwalk.
Director of Australian modelling agency Dallys Models, Jodie Bache-McLean, told the ABC plus-sized was generally considered an Australian size 14-16.
Ms Bache-McLean said plus-size models had always been part of the industry, but demand for them was increasing.
“I think Robin Lawley, that beautiful plus-sized girl from Sydney, when she was on the cover of Vogue, it really changed things,” she said.
“Women’s perception of body image was altered for a positive, having a size 14 girl they can look at who is healthy and sexy.”