Tess Holliday ‘didn’t feel maternal’ toward her son until he was a toddler


Tess Holliday is a model, blogger and body-positivity advocate. I don’t know much about her, to be honest. She was the guest the first time I attended a taping of Busy Tonight, that was my introduction to her. I know that she does work hard on body-positivity and a few of her magazine covers broke the body barrier. I also know that she’s had a few controversies attached to her, but I only learned of them after the fact. Oh, and I know Piers Morgan rails against her, which is a mark in her favor, I think. Tess is mother to two boys, Rylee, 14, and Bowie, three and a half. She’s on the cover of Parents Magazine’s February issue, as you can see above. I quite like the cover, I love the colors and the artwork. Plus Tess and her boys look great, they’re styled really well. People had some excerpts which revealed a rather surprising fact, that Tess did not have a maternal connection to her first son, Rylee, until he was a toddler.

Tess Holliday is reflecting on her motherhood experience, both as a single mom and as a married woman.

The model, 34, opens up about raising her sons Bowie Juniper, 3½, and Rylee, 14, for the February issue of Parents magazine, in which they star on their first cover along with their famous mom.

Recalling her early years as a parent, Holliday says she struggled to feel close to newborn Rylee after she gave birth to him at age 20.

“I loved him, but I didn’t feel maternal toward him until he was a toddler,” she said of her older son.

[From People]

This issue is not out yet so that’s the only excerpt we have right now. The rest of the People article talks about Tess’s relationship with the boys’ dads and how people make gross assumptions about her inability to parent properly because of her size. It’s an interesting distinction that she did not feel ‘maternal’ love for Rylee. I’ve been open about not being a baby person and that I am enjoying my time with my kids much more now that they’re older. But I always had a maternal attachment to them. Like, even when I was questioning my choice of become a mother and would I ever be truly happy again (yes, it got that dark in those first years), I still had a fire in the pit of my stomach and knew I would take on a bus if it was headed for my kids. It was purely instinctual, not a fairy-tale love brought to me by singing birds. It was a terrifying understanding that I would never recover if pain or despair ever befell my children. So I very much want to read this point elaborated in the article. It could just be a semantics thing; Tess and I are discussing the same thing but using the term differently. Tess revealed that she suffered from postpartum depression after she had Bowie. Tess was just 20 when she had Rylee and has said that his father was just a one-night stand with whom she has no contact. It’s possible she suffered from PPD (which can last up to four years in some cases) with Rylee as well. But her explanation is not as important to me as her speaking about it because parents who feel that way will benefit.

I won’t lie, though, I am also eager for this to come out so I can get an ID on that pink dress on the cover – it’s adorable.

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Spent some one on one time with my oldest son today (Rylee gave me the thumbs up to share with y’all bc I don’t share him on social without his permission), & it amazes me what a beautiful young dude he is growing up to be. We ate burgers on the beach and he played me all the music he is into right now, (Drake, Tyler the Creator, Misfits) & made me smile all afternoon. I also gave him some news that he will be coming to work with me this week on something exciting that I’ll be able to share soon, & I was worried how he would react & he laughed when I told him and said “no one at school will believe me!” I wish I was this chill when I was 13! 🤣🤷🏻‍♀️ #momlife

A post shared by T E S S H🍒L L I D A Y (@tessholliday) on



Photo credit: Brigitte Sire/Parents Magazine and WENN/Avalon Photos

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20 Responses to “Tess Holliday ‘didn’t feel maternal’ toward her son until he was a toddler”

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  1. BANANIE says:

    I think there are some limitations on her parenting because of her size. I’m not criticizing her, but I doubt she can chase her toddler around as much as a person in a “normal” weight range could. I’m not going to get into her health because I don’t know anything about that’.

    • CharliePenn says:

      I agree with you, and if you can see my comment below you’ll know I’m not about pretending weight isn’t a health issue.

      However many parents can’t do certain things with their kids and they are still good parents. Personally I have spinal and hip issues and there are things I can’t do with my kids, and at times it’s worse than other times. She can still be a wonderful mom even with limitations, and she can also afford to hire lots of physical help. Just wanted to add my two cents on your comment I hope you don’t mind!

    • Baby Jane says:

      Huh? She said she didn’t feel maternal UNTIL he was a toddler. Like, when the chasing BEGINS. Good try.

    • josephine says:

      I think we all truly have some limitations when it comes to parenting, some physical and some mental. (And can you imagine someone criticizing a person in a wheelchair because they have “some limitations” when it comes to parenting?)

      Whether she can chase a toddler or not is not anyone’s business and not relevant.

      Do I wish we were all at our optimum health for ourselves and our families, sure, but the best way of making that happy is truly supporting each other exactly where we are at.

  2. CharliePenn says:

    I can’t with her. She’s the poster woman for taking body positivity into a territory of “we can’t even SAY that being obese is a health issue because of my FEEELINGS”.
    I am all for people loving themselves, respecting people at every size, deserving proper treatment at every size etc. But it enters an area of self-destructive delusion when these body positive advocates insist that obesity has no impact on health. Her insta is full of bull crap about this kind of thing.

    Weight absolutely impacts health. Obese people of course deserve respect and proper treatment. But deluding ones self that any doctor advising weight loss is just “fat phobic” and that you can be “healthy at every size” (which is a whole movement) helps no one, and is damaging especially to younger people who are dealing with weight gain. Young people should know that they deserve love and respect at every size, but they should not be lulled by the false message that the human body is perfectly healthy while carrying hundreds of extra pounds. She promotes the message that any intentional weight loss is intrinsically fatphobic. Bad bad message for our youth, who are already up against the American food market and lifestyle which leads to obesity.

    But besides my issue with her general health message, she is indeed very beautiful and seems like a devoted mother. Just cut the health delusions!

    • Elle says:

      I agree with this sentiment, you put it exactly as I feel. As you said, I do think that people deserve complete respect in how they are treated. That being said, obesity should not be viewed that way (only positive). It is a serious health concern with dangerous consequences to wellbeing and should be treated as such.

    • Joy says:

      I work in public health and we are struggling with this right now. The idea that you can be 5 feet tall and 450 lbs and be perfectly healthy has gone from these uneducated bloggers fingers to the public’s ears. No you are not a bad person. But your heart cannot take that punishment.

  3. ME says:

    I sometimes check out reddit and there is a “childfree” subreddit that is really good. Someone posted about working in a day care and how at least half the parents she sees resent having kids. We get brainwashed into believing kids will bring us happiness…sometimes they don’t. Think long and hard whether you truly want kids and don’t just have them because society says you need to. It’s not fair to the kids.

    • SK2 says:

      Gosh that’s really interesting and very sad.
      I have found having a baby to be extremely rewarding and fulfilling, I kind of was shocked by how wonderful it is. I love kids and wanted to be a mum but still it’s exceeded my expectations.
      But everyone is different and no one should have kids without seriously thinking it through… having kids because it seemed like that’s the thing to do in our society, not good at all. Plus there are enough ( too many) people on our planet, limited resources

    • Shura says:

      This does not surprise me at all. Busy parents who are forced or advised to place their children in daycare for the majority of the day lose an opportunity to bond with those children. Without the bond, parenting can be a terrible chore. The system isnt working for families.

      • Pinetree13 says:

        That’s ridiculous plenty of women use daycare and bond just fine….the issue isn’t some nuclear family crap needing to come back, it’s people having kids they didn’t want to have !

  4. spugzbunny says:

    She also photo shops and face tunes everything she posts.

    • ME says:

      That defeats her whole message then doesn’t it? You can’t “love” yourself if you’re posting extremely altered pics of yourself.

  5. Big Bertha says:

    I’m a big girl. I love it when I forget about my size because people see beyond it. That being said, this woman is delusional. Obesity is not healthy. Period.

  6. DSW says:

    This is ridiculous. Anyone who has closely followed her movements knows she spends very little time with her kids. Her assistant, Jolene, takes care of them while she’s off partying or trying to pick up whatever modeling jobs are still left available to her, which aren’t many since she’s burned so many bridges.

  7. Annetommy says:

    I have been slim and I have been (am) fat and I felt better mentally and physically when I was slim. She is young – as well as lovely – but extra weight is particularly unhealthy as one ages, and harder to get rid of. I’m not body shaming or offering any particular view as to what she should do but providing my own perspective. I wish I could do something about my weight. I am also going to say that I think there are celebs who appear unhealthily underweight. Again, it’s their body, their choice but I can’t pretend I don‘t see it.

  8. Haapa says:

    I just wanted to post something nice because literally every comment on here is ragging on her. While she isn’t 100% my cup of tea, she gets more flack than she deserves. Her health is between her and her doctor and is nobody else’s business.

    • Elena says:

      Except that she makes it everyone else’s business by constantly telling us that her being obese does and will not have any impact on her health. People deserve respect no matter how they look and it’s great to see diversity in body size. HOWEVER, selling obesity as woke body-acceptance is damaging, regardless of the reasons (medical or not) that lead to it.

  9. Pinetree13 says:

    I’m not sure if it was Jezebel but there have been many articles written about her scamming her fans and being a general con artist