As an advocate for body positivity, it’s rare to hear Tess Holliday say anything negative about her size or shape.
But the 32-year-old model has shared that she wasn’t always so confident in her own skin by sharing a touching throwback snap of her when she was 13-years-old and desperate to fit in on Instagram.
Posting the picture alongside one from one her more recent shoots for plus-size fashion brand Eloquii, she explained that the photo on the left was taken when she was in her ‘first and only beauty pageant’.
Body positive: Model Tess Holliday, 32, has shared an emotional throwback of herself as a 13-year-old beauty pageant contestant desperate to ‘fit in’ alongside a more recent snap
Fitting in: The mom-of-two revealed in the accompanying caption that growing up in Mississippi, pageants were ‘life’ and she wanted to compete in them to feel beautiful
Beauty queen: Tess recently appeared in this glam shoot for plus size fashion brand Eloquii and also shared her mom searched everywhere to find a pageant dress to fit her
Emotional: Tess, pictured here in a stunning Eloquii evening gown, felt ‘unlovable’ at the end of her pageant experience and had to hold back tears walking off stage
Now based in Los Angeles, the mother-of-two also revealed that growing up in Mississippi, ‘pageants were life’, explaining that, as all the ‘pretty’ girls did them, she wanted to feel beautiful and fit in.
And although her mom ‘searched everywhere to find a dress to fit me’, when she got to the pageant and started comparing herself to the other girls she felt even more insecure.
‘Growing up in Mississippi, pageants were life and all of the “pretty” girls did them, and my god how badly I wanted to feel beautiful and fit in,’ she wrote.
‘My mom searched everywhere to find a dress to fit me, and this was the only one in town that fit. The rest of the girls competing were showing much more skin, they were all dolled up and I remember the pit in my stomach of feeling so unlovable and unworthy because to me, I didn’t look like them.
‘When it was my turn of stage, they asked what my hobby was and I said “collecting tweety bird” and the audience laughed. I held my tears back as I walked off stage.
‘Unsurprisingly, I didn’t win that night, but man, did I end up winning in life…’
Tess went on to note that she wishes ‘someone could have shown that sad, lonely 13-year-old kid the photo on the right of her future: shooting a fashion campaign in Paris, wearing a gown that not only fits me, but allows me to no longer hide.’
Winner: Tess, seen here in her latest shoot for Alpine Butterly swimwear, wishes she could have told her 13-year-old self she would eventually ‘win’ at life
Blast from the past: Tess posted another flashback photo of herself aged 14 in January 2018 and shared how she was ‘even fatter but happy’ now, pictured right in January 2018
Working out: Tess also concluded that ‘life has a weird way of working out’
Busier than ever: After feeling ‘lost’, Tess now says that she feels genuinely happy and is doing what she loves
‘I wish someone could have shown that sad, lonely 13 year old kid the photo on the right of her future: shooting a fashion campaign in Paris, wearing a gown that not only fits me, but allows me to no longer hide.
‘As I write this, I’m packing my bags for #NYFW, and I have moments where so still feel like that little girl, sad, and overwhelmed by how hard the world can be to those of us who have never quite fit in.
‘If you are reading this, please know you aren’t alone. Please know it gets better, and that the #glowup is real. Life is so weird, but things always have a way of working out.’
A longtime fan of giving her followers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into her personal and professional life, Tess also recently shared images from her latest campaign for Alpine Butterfly, a fashionable swimsuit line made for women who are size L to 5X.
And she also used the pictures as an opportunity to post another throwback picture of herself, this time aged 14.
She wrote: ‘I wish someone would have told me that I would be living my dream and even fatter but happy!’
Last month, while shooting the swimwear campaign, she admitted that it was great to be enjoying herself after having a difficult few months.
While sharing a close-up photo of herself sporting glamorous, sixties inspired make-up and voluminous hair, Tess wrote: ‘After quite a long road of feeling sad/lost, it sure is nice to be doing what I love and be genuinely happy.