Tess Holliday, the plus-size model who made a great feat for plus-size girls everywhere by covering People magazine, wants you to know she’s so very sorry for declaring “Black men love me!”.
Last week, Holliday told The Guardian, “I do admit that Black men love me. I always forget that, and then I come to a Black neighborhood and I remember.”
Holliday’s comment came after a Black middle-aged man complimented the model as she posed for cameras in the street.
Of course there was backlash.
One editor for The Root commented:
“Um…Good for her?” Danielle Belton wrote. “I also want to add that “black guys like me” too, if we’re only basing this on who hollers at you on the street. And if we’re talking about men who are straight, there’s a dude for every kind of lady person and I HIGHLY doubt she polled “all” the black guys to get this opinion.”
XoJane also had something to say about it:
“I wondered why his race needed to be pointed out in this context,” Pia Glenn wrote. “It immediately read to me like the further demonization of black men as the only perpetrators of street harassment.”
It should also be noted just before Holliday identified the man as Black, she stated, “What do guys think they’ll achieve by yelling something? They’re like: She’ll love this, I’ll definitely get her number.”
The context lends itself to believe Holliday was seemingly frustrated by the man’s comment but later colors her statement, literally, by saying all Black men love her.
I’m not entirely bothered by Holliday’s statement. I don’t think it singles Black men out as the sole ushers of street harassment, nor do I think Holliday is “feeling herself” a bit too much in all of her cover girl glory.
I am, however, slightly annoyed by the subtle implication Black men are somehow the only men on earth who are into plus-size women. Or the sweeping conclusion any full-figured woman is hot by default to any random Black man on the street or in “Black neighborhoods.”
It is widely known that curves, big booties and thick thighs are favored throughout the Black Diaspora—from Nigeria to Harlem—how-some-ever, dearest Holliday, your size 26 waist-line is no leopard-skin unicorn prancing the streets. Calm down, ma.
Alas, it’s conclusively fair here to officially stamp Holliday’s statement as a slightly ignorant generalization, sprinkled with white privilege.
The model took to her Facebook page today and posted a pretty thoughtful apology:
“Firstly, I apologise for any hurt that my flippant comment has caused. I’ll try to provide some context which hopefully will change the way in which it is being viewed, but I have to also accept that being followed and quoted is something new for me and I am going to occasionally say or do things that make people unhappy. For that I am sorry, your opinions are important to me.
The incident in question occurred when I was on the street, feeling rather exposed in my underwear for the shoot, and an older black man cat called me as I was walking behind the team. I replayed the incident to the team once we were set up for the next shot, and jokingly said some semblance of what appeared in print. It was in relation to being cat called by black men significantly more than by white, but perhaps my tone and wording didn’t convey this clearly. It was also meant to play into the idea that black men like bigger women, but the humour of that doesn’t come through. To further add context, the team included two talented black women – so it was clearly not something intended to cause offence.
Effyourbeautystandards is for everyone – every colour, every race, every sexuality – for all genders and all types of bodies, physically able or not.
I am not a perfect human being, I am still growing and learning, and the title of “role model” is not one that I have chosen – it was thrust onto me, despite my reluctance. I am doing my best to live up to what that means, but at times I will slip up. I don’t speak for everyone, but I will continue to try my best to speak UP for everyone.”
What do you think about Tess Holliday’s comment? Pissed, annoyed, unbothered? Sound off!
Photo credit: People, Glamour, The Guardian