Plus model, Tess Munster, has never believed in walls–you know, those things that box you in and keep your mind limited. They’ve never had a place in Tess’s life because she’s always refused to let her circumstances define who she is. Growing up in the deep south of Mississippi, all a little girl like Tess could do was dream. She always knew she would be something special. So once Tess heard about plus model auditions in Atlanta, GA, she knew she’d make her dream tangible. But it was that very audition where Tess was able to see that no one else looked like her and she was even told that she’d be doing print ads for the rest of her life because she was just too short. Standing at a petite 5’4″, Tess stayed positive and relocated to Seattle at the request of a friend and stayed for two years. She then moved back home to Mississippi to give birth to her son with her family near. Then tragedy stuck–Hurricane Katrina forced Tess to make yet another move and she found herself in Seattle again, then L.A–all within four years. It was that move to L.A. that pushed Tess’ career forward in such an unexpected way. Tess sat down with PLUS and detailed her journey, setbacks and triumphs and she left me with such an incredible since of conquering that after speaking with her, I felt I could take over the world. Let Tess’ story inspire you to achieve whatever it is you want no matter what stands in your way.
Danielle: How did being different affect your journey?
Tess: It affected me. It’s hard to say. My father was never supportive of me wanting to be a plus size model. When I went to the open call for Wilhemina and Elite, he laughed at me and told me that since I’m not good enough to be a regular model, I had to be a plus size model. I had that same comment from a lot of people and I remember thinking that there was something wrong with me. I remember seeing all these Glamazons and thinking to myself that I didn’t belong. For a while, it affected my confidence. I never thought I was going to be able to be where I wanted and lived my dream. That’s where the self esteem issues, me having a child and not being married, that was added in. If I had more confidence, I would have been a little bit more careful about putting myself in situations that I did. It ended up working out. After I had him, I decided I needed to pull it together.
Danielle: When you had your son, how do you feel your life changed?
Tess: I was selfish for sure. I realized I had to care for somebody else and I couldn’t be as impulsive as I was before. He really made me want to take modeling more seriously. When I was younger, I squandered opportunities and I really didn’t care as much. Once I had him, I was 20, which is still young, but by Mississippi standards, I was doing good. [laughs] Most of my friends had three children, so I thought I was doing pretty good. He made me have the drive that I needed to put myself out there. It was the first time that I started being ok with the size I was because before, I had always wished I looked like everyone I saw in the magazines. It wasn’t until I had him that I thought I looked good. I only gained 20 pounds because I was already plus sized to begin with.
Danielle: What was the big break?
*read Tess’ response and the rest of the interview here*