I’ve been a fan of Tess Munster’s for many years. Not only is she a beautiful size 22 model that many plus size women can aesthetically identify with, but she’s an activist. Her movement #EffYourBeautyStandards is ground breaking in the way that it manages to empower women of different backgrounds while allowing women to show society that being fabulous isn’t limited to the size you wear!
This month we sat down with Ms. Munster, our 2013 October cover model, to gain a better understanding of her journey as a plus size woman.
DailyVenusDiva.com: Upon reaching your 3 year anniversary as a plus size model you decided to share a very honest reflection of your time in the industry with the Huffington post. What made you decide to be so open?
Tess Munster: I felt like it was time to really address misconceptions people have about plus size models, and also share my journey. The past year my life seemed so amazing to a lot of people, but in reality I was struggling with a lot of tough issues, and wanted to share it with fans. My hope was that it would shed light on some very important issues like online bullying, and how we as a society over glamorize people in the public spotlight. I really believe that we, as women, and a society should lift each other up & encourage one another.
DailyVenusDiva.com: Since becoming a public figure, what has been the most rewarding part of your journey and the most challenging?
Tess Munster: I would have to say its meeting women from all around the world that I have touched with my work and words. I receive letters and emails all the time from women (and men) that have felt inspired to wear a sleeveless dress for the first time because of seeing me wear one, or to finally let their partner see them naked, it’s all so inspiring to me as well. Honestly, that’s what keeps me going.
DailyVenusDiva.com: We first saw you as the face of A&E’s show ‘Heavy’. Did you ever aspire to be an actress or have you always wanted to model?
Tess Munster: Ever since I was a little girl, I had always dreamt of being a model, I just didn’t think that I would get the chance. I was always interested in acting, because I’m quite- dramatic! Ha Ha! My mom used to always say “one day you are going to be famous and buy me a Jaguar (car)!” and I would laugh at her.
DailyVenusDiva.com: You’ve been called an activist, model, spokesperson. Which title do you identify with the most?
Tess Munster: All of them really, but if I had to choose one, it would probably be Activiist. I know not everyone gets to be a model, and I feel very lucky to say I have, but I feel like the reason I became one was so I could talk to women about being more confident, and treating our bodies with love. That’s why I started my #effyourbeautystandards movement, to show women that you don’t have to be a certain size to love your body (big or small), and our size shouldn’t dictate our fashion choices.
DailyVenusDiva.com: In your photos, you push the envelope. Who inspires you to be fashionably fierce? And how does your personal style differ from what we see in your photos?
Tess Munster: I love creating work that makes people think, and that challenges their perception of “beauty”. I think it’s important to take risks in life and have fun, and I try and show that in my work. Nothing is off limits for me (except anything sexually explicit), and if I have a great team that’s willing to give it a shot, so will I. In regards to my fashion sense, it depends on what I’m doing and my current mood. To date, there isn’t one shoot that I wouldn’t wear that outfit in public, and I have often! I just like to have fun with my clothing, and dress like characters, or themed..it’s not for everyone, but works for me.
DailyVenusDiva.com: As a size 22 woman, what type of impact do you want to have on the plus size modeling world and on plus size women?
Tess Munster: Well it’s hard for me to say, I can only speak of what I’ve been told or seen. I do know that I’ve made a wave in the industry and with other women because they can relate to me and my body type. The consumers really want to see more diversity in the industry, and different shapes. We aren’t all 5’8 and a size 12 (not that there is anything wrong with that body type), they want to know what the clothes will look like on them. The industry has been surprisingly welcoming to me, and I really thought it was going to be the opposite. I know I stick out like a sore thumb, but it’s rare that I feel like an outsider.
DailyVenusDiva.com: Moving from Mississippi to LA is a huge step. How did you stay motivated to keep following your dreams?
Tess Munster: For me, the decision to keep going was the only option. I couldn’t see myself staying in such a small town, it just wasn’t for me. I knew that what I wanted to do, couldn’t happen in Mississippi, so I made the choice to move across the country twice, once after I had my son with $700, two suitcases and a pack and play. I was determined to give me and my child a better life, no matter how many people said it was impossible. That’s why I tell women that anything is possible, no matter what.
DailyVenusDiva.com: What is your favorite part of your body?
Tess Munster: I know this is the part where I say something like: My hands or eyes, something that sounds very meaningful, haha, but I really love my butt. It’s pretty darn good if you ask me!
DailyVenusDiva.com: What types of misconceptions do you want to address and dispel as a plus size woman?
Tess Munster: We aren’t lazy, we aren’t fat or curvy because we can’t put the twinkies down, and we aren’t a fetish. We are sexy, and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Everyone is at a different stage in their journey to health and its no one’s place to question or judge what we look like or why we do. We are allowed to wear what we want, and reserve the right to tell you to kiss our big butts if you don’t like it.
DailyVenusDiva.com: How do you thrive in your curves?
Tess Munster: By enjoying each day to the fullest, and taking it as a blessing, because thats what it is. For a long time, I hid my body, afraid of what others would think or say. Then, one day I realized, why am I hiding because of what someone who I probably don’t even know, or like would think? If it’s hot, I want to wear a bikini and feel the sun and water on my skin. I want to be able to wear what women smaller than me are, and feel beautiful..so I do. I also have a great relationship with a man who loves my body and has helped me “thrive” in my curves even more, but I couldn’t have gotten to that place if I didn’t first embrace my body.