The next time Tess Holliday writes a book, it won’t be when she’s three months post-partum and hormonal.
“There were days I didn’t leave my room because it stirred up so many different emotions I wasn’t expecting, and resurfaced some things I thought I had dealt with,” the model, 32, tells PEOPLE.
In the book, The Not So Subtle Art of Being a Fat Girl, out on Sept. 26, Holliday shares the story of her “tumultuous” childhood in Mississippi, from her complicated relationship with her father, to her mother getting shot to becoming pregnant with her first child at 18 after a one-night stand. She says those years were the toughest to document.
“It was rough talking about my father, and what happened to my mom — realizing that the scars of those tumultuous years are still with me today and affect me in ways I didn’t imagine,” Holliday says. “I left a lot out, but wanted to be honest with the readers because I know that a lot of people have gone through similar things. That’s how healing can begin … discussing the difficult stuff.”
She says that writing the book was therapeutic for her — and she hopes it may be for readers as well.
“A lot of it … I haven’t talked about in years, so when I started writing about it, emotions came up that I didn’t expect but I was obviously very grateful,” Holliday says. “I know by talking about my experiences it will help other people and that’s the only reason why I was able to push through it.”
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Holliday hopes that the stories of how her life progressed — from meeting her current husband, Nick, to giving birth to the couple’s first son, Bowie, to becoming a bona fide supermodel — shows that “anything is possible if you believe in yourself.”
“I’m proof of that,” she says. “It’s okay for life to knock you down, but don’t let it keep you down.”
And for those itching for a sequel after reading, Holliday is ready.
“It was hard to put the computer and pen down, and say ‘enough,’ ” she says. “I kept adding and editing parts but I had to remind myself that this isn’t my autobiography. It’s just a fraction of my life stories and things I know NOW. We evolve daily and learn new things, which means that I will have even more content for my next book!”