Tess Holliday's Secret to Feeling Sexy (Even When You're In a Funk)
The model wants you to know that you can feel sexy—and have an amazing sex life—right now. Stop waiting for everything to be "just right."
Take a glance at Tess Holliday’s Instagram account, and one word comes to mind: sexy. That’s intentional. The 34-year-old model, mother, author, and creator of #EffYourBeautyStandards, a body-positivity movement, is telling the world that she’s more confident in bed now than ever—and wants all women to feel the same way. In fact, her portfolio is filled with words of self-love.
That attitude didn’t come naturally. Growing up, Holliday never saw women who looked like her portrayed as sexy and glamorous. “We’re always the punch line, the comic relief, or the best friend. We’re never the love interest,” she says.
Today she’s working to change that image. “I think it’s important to talk about the fact that I find myself attractive. I am not here because I need the attention of men.” Holliday is hoping other women will follow suit and adopt that same point of view. (And on the bad days, she uses this trick to boost her body confidence.)
“There wasn’t an aha moment when I decided to feel sexy and then that was it,” she says. “I’m always learning about my body, and my relationship with it changes and my self-image fluctuates.” But lingerie has become an important part of the equation. When Holliday finally found sexy, lacy numbers that came in her size, she discovered how good wearing them could make her feel, and it opened her world. “Before, everything I bought that was made for my body type was kind of matronly,” she says. “But now I can put on corsets and things that I’d never had access to.”
Her newfound perspective has given her a platform to reach other women and instill the same sense of confidence she has built herself. “I get a lot of messages from followers saying, ‘I’m really nervous to be with my partner because they’re half my size.’” Holliday can relate to that self-doubt, admitting that she once settled for partners who didn’t prioritize her. “I was so excited that someone wanted to have sex with me that I didn’t care about myself or what I wanted,” she says. Now she focuses on communication to ensure her needs are met, and she encourages other women to do the same. For a mood setter, Holliday swears by lingerie, of course, and a bold lip color. “Red lipstick is a very powerful thing. Try to put it on and not feel sexy. It’s impossible,” she says.
Most of all, Holliday wants women to know that they don’t need to compromise in the bedroom. “Look, I’ve had a lot of sex,” she says, “and nothing is better than when you actually love yourself.” (Related: This Woman Perfectly Explained the Difference Between Self-Love and Body Positivity)
Shape Magazine, March 2020 issue