Tess Holliday was born in Mississipi, where she was raised by her mother, moving 40 times before the age of 10. In 1995 her mother became paralysed after being shot in the head by her fiancé. From 5th grade, Tess was bullied for her weight and pale skin, and ultimately severed all ties with the father who had abandoned his young family because he also abused her because of her weight.
Tess worked as a makeup artist and dental receptionist in Los Angeles before becoming a full-time model in 2014. In 2015, she became the largest plus-size (a term Tess controversially supports) model to be signed by Milk Model Management in the UK. She has since worked on many major campaigns, including a H&M sustainable fashion campaign in which she starred alongside Iggy Pop.
Tess now has a team of six social media specialists helping manage her message across the world.
She is married to Australian artist Nick Holliday, who moved to Los Angeles to live with Tess and her son after they met on Tumblr in 2012. They have since had a child together.