Tess Holliday Was As ‘Shocked As Everyone’ To Learn She Has Anorexia

Tess Holliday has claimed she was as 'shocked as everyone' when she received her anorexia diagnosis
Credit: @tessholliday/Instagram

Tess Holliday has claimed she was as ‘shocked as everyone’ when she received her anorexia diagnosis. 

Holliday, 38, is an American plus-sized model, blogger and makeup artist – she’s a self-described ‘body positive activist’ and embraces the word ‘fat’.

The star has developed a large fanbase for embracing her body and encouraging others to love theirs, however, she’s now been forced to defend herself from cruel trolls.

And now, she’s revealed her own ‘shock’ at receiving her anorexia diagnosis.

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When Holliday originally shared her anorexia diagnosis, she said ‘people thought I was lying’.

Anorexia is an eating disorder which makes a person obsess over food and their weight, as per Johns Hopkins Medicine.

It can result in unusual eating habits to cope with stress, anxiety and low self-esteem.

Eating disorders in larger bodies are estimated to be severely underdiagnosed – people don’t realise that restrictive eating isn’t just an issue for thin people.

Per Beat: “Eating disorders are mental illnesses. They have a serious impact on someone’s thinking and behaviour, but they are not guaranteed to cause noticeable changes to their appearance. Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes and not everyone affected will ‘look ill’. People may also gain, lose, or experience no obvious change to their weight as a result of an eating disorder.”

A study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology found that mental health trainees were more likely to diagnose a person classed as ‘underweight’ or ‘normal weight’ with anorexia than people classed as ‘overweight’.

It also found that people deemed ‘overweight’ would be recommended fewer therapy sessions.

Tess Holliday
Eating disorders are estimated to be severely underdiagnosed in people with larger bodies. Credit: @tessholliday/Instagram

Holliday has revealed that it was her dietician who first broached the subject of her having an eating disorder.

She recalled: “When she said anorexia, I laughed. I thought, ‘Do you see how fat I am? There’s no way that word could ever be attached to someone my size’.”

A psychologist would confirm the dietician’s diagnosis of Holliday, which led her to realise ‘bodies of all sizes and shapes starve’.

Holliday opened up about her diagnosis on X, formerly Twitter, saying: “I’m anorexic and in recovery. I’m the result of a culture that celebrates thinness and equates that to worth, but I get to write my own narrative now.

“I’m finally able to care for a body that I’ve punished my entire life and I am finally free.”

In response to the candid post, one fan said: “Thank you for not compromising your language here to reinstate that the word anorexic is not a reference to weight but to the mind.”

Another added: “I’m in recovery in a larger body size and not ashamed to say it as well. People need to get educated as it is not for just the skinny!”

While a third X user commented: “I really wish my younger self had you to look up to. I remember always thinking I couldn’t be anorexic because I was still fat. Thank you for speaking your truth you are amazing.”

Tess Holliday
Tess Holliday was accused of lying about her anorexia diagnosis. Credit: @tessholliday/Instagram

But Holliday would go on to reveal that not everyone was so supportive.

In an essay for Today, she recalled: “People said I was lying. There are people who believe I was saying this to get attention. I’ve had some people say, ‘You’re doing this to stay relevant’. I laugh because I know it’s untrue, but it’s so indicative of what a large problem this is.”

A troll comment further forced Holliday to clap back.

“What mistakes r u owning? Maybe own the fact ur not anorexic and just wanted attention? No one wants u dead, we just want u to cut the bull,” one hateful comment towards Holliday reads.

Addressing the comment in another video, Holliday hits back: “Just because you don’t like that I exist in a larger body and I deal with a restrictive eating disorder, doesn’t give you the right to just be a jerk.”

She then refers viewers to a New York Times article titled “You Don’t Look Anorexic,” which was published back in 2022 and addressed misconceptions about anorexia.

“I also can’t blame you for not knowing because I myself did not know. The more folks that talk about it and the more folks that normalize it, then the less that we will have to deal with people like this, who think that they deserve to say whatever because they don’t like what they are hearing or seeing,” she goes on.

“I wish I was in a good place with my recovery and I felt like this is something I wanted to talk about more, but I currently don’t,” she adds before concluding: “I’m currently just managing things the best I can, and if you don’t like what I’m saying or how I talk about my lived experiences, then there are a million other people that you can follow, bully, harass, whatever.”

@tessholliday Replying to @Zinger78 #greenscreen this comment comed up a lot & I’m sure will continue to. I chose to share this with the world & I know trolling comes with the territory, but if it helps one person thats all I care about. #recovery #vunerable @Sharon Maxwell @The New York Times ♬ original sound – Tess Holliday🍒

Holliday also reveals she was ‘as shocked as anyone’ when she received her diagnosis.

In her Today essay, she pens: “I was as shocked as everyone when I learned I had anorexia.”

Holliday concludes: “For folks who claim they actually care about fat bodies and plus-size people and want to “help” us, the way you can help us is by supporting our mental health, and by understanding that there are so many people struggling with what I’m struggling with, but they don’t know it, and they can’t name it, and they can’t get a diagnosis, because our system has never been set up to support folks in larger bodies.”

If you or someone you know is affected by any of the issues raised in this story, you can call BEAT Eating Disorders at 0808 801 0677.

In the USA, you can get in touch with the National Eating Disorders Association’s helpline at (800) 931-2237 or visit

Do you have a story for us? If so, email us at [email protected]. All contact will be treated in confidence.

Written by Aimee Walker

Aimee is a senior content editor at IGV who specialises in finding the best original stories, trending topics and entertainment news. She graduated from Birmingham City University with a degree in Media and Communications.