Tess Holliday is taking the modeling world by storm. In the past few weeks, the size-22 bombshell got candid about the stressful realities being a new mom and emerged as the star of ModCloth’s brand new swimwear line.
But on Tuesday, she topped it all by appearing in a truly jaw-dropping photo collaboration that reveals the 31-year-old completely bare-faced (and unclothed). The model took part in photographer Scott Nathan’s Confessional series, in which he aimed to capture 100 women au naturale. The images are meant to challenge stereotypical beauty standards and “destroy the power of objectification through the triumph of empathy,” says Nathan, according to The Daily Mail.
In her provocative images, Holliday is lying on her side with her heavily tattooed arms and hands covering her curves, along with a brave, makeup-free face and lush, shiny locks. Hoping to capture his subjects’s candor and vulnerability, Nathan instructed the models — whose ages ranged from 11 to 86 — to “listen to the music and don’t take your eyes off the center off the lens.” Holliday’s image — like all in the series — is shot in black and white.
The body-positivity advocate, who, at 5-foot-5-inches and 270 pounds, became the first model of her size and height to be brought onto a major agency, is clearly proud to be part of the Confessionals series. So proud that she’s already taken the liberty to share the video of the
, captioning it in part, “Honored to have been a part of @scottnathaneditions 100 women series … #effyourbeautystandards.”
Nathan also proudly shared his new project on Instagram, paying, homage to Holliday, and sharing separate images and video clips of other models who participated in the project, including veteran model Rachel Hunter and lesser-known models like Madison Montgomery — in a tearful pose — and 86-year-old Frances Davis, clearly emotional as she listens to a Miles Davis tune for the first time since 1957.
Nathan is clearly incredibly passionate about his project, which is a departure from his typical work, and a very personal expression of his art. The raw nature of Confessional didn’t provide “the safety that a big commercial set creates by requiring everyone, including the models, to play their appointed roles. With a closed set and one camera, Scott wanted to create as bare and private an environment as possible and see what would happen if he just simply filmed his subjects. How long would it take for their true selves to emerge?”
One participant said of working with Nathan, “When someone is being completely vulnerable with you, it’s an amazing moment, because I don’t think it happens very much. It’s like leaving yourself completely exposed and raw. And most people find it very hard to do.”
As for Holliday, she revealed to People magazine that although she is famous for her confidence, sometimes her partner, Nick Holliday, helps boost her self esteem. He “always tells me how sexy I am,” she told the publication. This especially came in handy as she struggled to accept her post-baby body last year, says People.
Holliday’s Confessional video has already racked up more than 183,000 likes on Instagram and a slew of supportive comments from her legion of empowered fans, who have called her a “goddess” and an “inspiration.” One user commented, “I wish I had an ounce of your confidence! U exude beauty.” Another gushed, “I love that you are so comfortable in your own skin to display it the way you do. You and I are probably the same size and I wish I had your courage I wish i could embrace it thank you for showing me it’s possible.”
Fellow moms chimed in too, with one writing, “Much love, mama. It is tough, and so are you. You need the tears to help relieve the stress and difficulties. You are loved. You are allowed to have days like that, you are human.”
Catch Nathan’s entire 9-minute Confessional video for the full experience of the beauty, vulnerability, strength, and empowerment of 100 brave females.
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