‘Women shouldn’t be responsible for rehabilitating men’: Plus size model Tess Holliday shares powerful post-breakup advice
07th Sep 2020
On a journey to ‘find herself’, the newly single model realised some startling truths about being in a toxic relationship and how to pull yourself free
American plus size model Tess Holliday made waves in the beauty industry when she featured on the cover of Cosmopolitan UK in 2018.
The model has been a long-time ambassador for body positivity, pushing for diversity in the modelling world and starting social media movements like the viral hashtag #effyourbodystandards.
Now, she is facing a new hardship: becoming single after a seven-year relationship. And while the breakup has taken a toll on her mental health, she has realised some important things about herself and her toxic, former relationship.
Holliday shared some selfies of her body on Instagram, with an encouraging message to all the women of the world struggling in an unhealthy partnership.
“I’m a fat, queer, single working mom, who is finding out who she is again after being in a relationship for nearly 7 years that wasn’t the healthiest,” the influencer said.
“I stand by what I said, women shouldn’t be responsible for rehabilitating men. Women often get blamed for not doing ‘enough’ to ‘save’ their relationships.
“Guess what? We don’t have to carry that. We are only responsible for ourselves and our actions.”
#preach! Her followers commented with messages of support, criticising society for its unrealistic pressures put on women.
It’s not your responsibility
“A partner’s emotional, mental, or financial stability should never be our responsibility,” said one comment.
“Yes! That glow of escaping a toxic relationship and finding your self worth!” said another. “There is nothing like it! It’s okay to love yourself more.”
Holliday went on to share empowering female Instagram accounts she follows to keep herself motivated, inspired and focused on positive self-thinking.
One the accounts, @kingsophiesworld, run by UK artist Sophie King shared a thought-provoking piece on how women are constantly “blamed” for being in an unhealthy relationship because they “ignored the red flags”.
“Some people blame men mistreating women on women ignoring ‘red flags’. People imply that the fault lies with women, for being too ‘gullible’, ‘naive’ and ‘stupid’,” she said.
“However, the reality of why women ignore ‘red flags’ is a lot more complex […]. Women don’t ‘fall’ for men’s bullshit, men lead them on through lies and gaslighting.
“When you’re experiencing such manipulation first hand, it’s very hard to see ‘red flags’ from an outsider’s perspective.”
The blame game
King explained that the blame for a bad relationship is often shifted onto women and these ‘red flags’ reveal themselves when men’s behaviour changes over time.
“‘Men change when they find the right woman’ becomes ‘I can’t believe you thought he’d change’,” she said. “‘Be forgiving!’ becomes ‘what a doormat!’.
‘Don’t hold people’s past against them’ becomes ‘it was obvious they were a bad person’.”
She then goes on to say that society has taught women to self-blame when things go wrong in their relationship and while we should try and recognise red flags, “it’s still the perpetrator’s fault regardless”.
“You should never be motivated to work on your expectations and boundaries based by shame and fear,” King said.
Holliday agreed with this perspective and realised that she shouldn’t be blaming herself after her own breakup.
She had to stop and reflect on herself positively to realise her own self-worth outside of a long-term relationship. And only after that process has she been able to see herself in a new and healthy light.
“I feel more empowered and happier than ever,” the model said, “and [I] only got to this place by fully understanding my own worth.”
Feature image: Instagram/@tessholliday
Read more: 5 signs your relationship has run its course, according to experts
Read more: Delayed grief: ‘I pretended I was fine but really I wasn’t’
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