Tess Holliday was born Ryann Hoven in Laurel, Mississippi. When Tess was 9 years old, her mother was shot twice in the head by her fiancé, who was later charged with attempted murder. Tess estimates that she moved with her family at least 40 times before she was 10 years old. After being bullied by her peers over her weight and pale skin, Tess dropped out of school at age 16. Four years later, she was working at Walmart when she welcomed son Rylee in 2006.
After posting photos of herself online, Tess landed a modeling job for the A&E series Heavy, which led to gigs for Nylon and Benefit magazines. She is also the first model above size 20 to score a major contract with Milk Management’s Curve division. In 2013, Vogue Italia named her one of the world’s top plus-size models. That same year, she founded the body positivity movement, Eff Your Beauty Standards.
In 2015, Tess married Australian businessman Nick Holliday, whom she met on Tumblr. The couple welcomed son Bowie the following year.