Tess Holliday on Struggling to Accept Her Post-Baby Body: “I Don’t Recognize Myself”

Tess Holliday has been a major champion of the body positivity movement for some time now. The popular plus-size model has spoken out against body-shamers, posted empowering photos to #NormalizeBreastfeeding, and even has an entire Instagram account devoted to promoting self-love and acceptance under the (aptly named) handle, @effyourbeautystandards. Many have even credited the 31-year-old new mom with bringing the body positivity movement mainstream over the last few years.

But for many women, having moments of self-doubt or days when you look in the mirror and just aren’t happy with what you see staring back can be an inescapable reality. Especially when you go through the life-changing — and body-changing — event of bringing a tiny human into the world. And even Tess Holliday isn’t immune to the many emotions that can follow.

Earlier this week, the model took to Instagram to share a candid post about her ongoing struggles to accept her new post-baby body — a struggle so many new moms out there can relate to.

“Each day feels like a battle to learn how to love my body postpartum,” Holliday shared in the caption, along with two photos of her standing in her bra and underwear. “It’s been six months, and my stomach is lower, my breasts are a different shape, [I have] new stretch marks, and I feel like a stranger in my body more than ever.”

Her words are undeniably candid; yet considering how many new moms feel exactly the same way, yet rarely voice it, her honesty is refreshing. In the end, her admission isn’t one of self-loathing or negativity. It’s one of acknowledgement, hope, and self-acceptance:

“I wasn’t anticipating this at all,” she continues. “I’m not used to looking in the mirror & feeling like I don’t recognize myself, but sadly that’s my reality some days. I debated on whether or not to post this, but I think it’s important to be honest about what it’s like to be a woman in the media, who recently had a baby & the pressure that’s put on new moms to ‘lose the baby weight.’ I was fat before, I carried a healthy baby, & guess what, still fat … & THATS OKAY. I have no New Years resolution to lose weight, but only to work on learning my new body & loving & nurturing it. Not a day goes by that [my partner] Nick doesn’t tell me how beautiful I am, but it’s not our partner’s job to lift our spirits, we have to be our own cheerleaders. So that’s what I will do, take it day by day. It’s a journey, not a race … & a beautiful one at that.”

That advice — of being our own cheerleader, and of looking within for acceptance, rather than to others — is ultimately Holliday’s over-arching message, in nearly everything she does and says. Her posts about body positivity and self-love often come from a place of encouragement and inspiration, served up with a side of badassery.

In November, the model posted another underwear selfie to Instagram — though this one came with a defiant message for the “haters” hell-bent on body-shaming her or shooting down what she’s tried to create:

“Y’all out here thinking that I’m done, that you can f*ck with me, but you can’t,” it read. “I’m not going anywhere.”

We sure hope you never do, Tess.

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