by Jacqueline Hall
Tess Annique, a first-generation American, grew up in Corona Del Mar, California. As she lived in an all-German household and most of her family lived in Germany, her first language was German. While growing up, her family mixed German and American traditions. For example, she practiced the common German Christmas tradition of putting her wish list in boots outside of her house at the beginning of December. Another German tradition she practiced at Thanksgiving was making a fancy macaroni and cheese called Käsespätzle.
During her childhood, Annique loved spending time in Germany during her breaks from school. Visiting Germany was a grounding experience for her because all of her extended family lived there in a town called Weil am Rhein, which is on the border of France, Germany, and Switzerland. She can recall a photo of herself as a child sitting on a star that crosses the borders of all three countries. While visiting Germany, she also loved to visit the Vitra Design Museum, which is, in her opinion, one of the coolest design museums in Europe.
At the age of 15, Annique entered the fashion world. At this time, she was living in California and frequently traveled to Los Angeles to do photoshoots. After graduating high school at the age of 17, she moved to New York City. At the beginning of her modeling career, social media did not exist and she needed a physical portfolio book, and she went to productions and shoots constantly to maintain her portfolio. After shoots, she went to print stores to have her photos developed. She explains her early days as a model as a special time to start her career: in an old-school way compared to now. One of her very first modeling jobs was with Cosmopolitan magazine and her mom accompanied her.
The six or seven years after Annique moved to New York were dark. She faced anxiety, depression, and maintaining sobriety, pretending that she was okay on the outside and bottling emotions up. She explains that she was struggling with personal things along with partying and working a fast-paced life as a model. Although she was independent, she was sometimes caught up in the wrong scene, juggling a mix of unhealthy decisions and growing pains. A major part of this period of her life was never being taught how to take care of herself mentally or physically.
Once she graduated high school, Annique went on to attend the University of Texas. There was always an emphasis on her receiving an education. For her family, it was part of the immigrant American dream. At university, she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in marketing and fashion media. While pursuing her degree, she experienced a complete shift from the isolation she felt in New York City to feeling involved with a community in Texas. In 2016, she graduated from university and moved back to Los Angeles. Afterward, she recognized that her college lifestyle was not very healthy regarding mental health and self-care. These realizations were what led her to talk to a therapist and further dive into her mental health, making it a priority to take care of her brain.
After college, as Annique pursued her modeling career, she was inspired by her love of fashion, collaborating, and creating. However, sobriety was a major influence in her career as well. Now four years sober, she has realized the importance of taking care of herself. She began to use her passion and what she learned about sobriety to create highly curated and stylized content related to health and wellness. She loves to work with brands and create content, which has worked well despite the restrictions caused by COVID-19.
Regarding modeling in her youth, Annique states, “You tend to compare and despair when you’re younger.” She explains that, as a younger model, she had a lack of confidence and often was comparing her success to others’. But as she got older, she learned how to take care of herself, realizing what she should consume and who she wanted to be around. She says that working in fashion is more fulfilling now. She can work with brands and people that she cares about. She also says that models have stronger voices nowadays. Annique can collaborate with a brand directly, which makes it even more empowering than before.
In regards to incorporating wellness into her life and career, Annique explains that it came with receiving treatment. It was while in treatment that she first truly learned life skills. She felt as though she was missing things that she did not understand until then. She learned about effective communication, processing trauma, and sitting in feelings of anxiety. She was left wondering why she didn’t learn these things before.
As her journey continues, Annique has embraced sobriety and is focusing on her mental health. Living sober for her means more than just living life without any mind-altering substances. It means being fully present. It means being authentic with who she is in the moment. It’s about accepting what each day brings and that not every day will be a great one. She explains that you cannot try to control people, places, or things. Although it may be hard, Annique states that she learned to “let go and let God.” She explains how important it is to release control and give it to the universe, which will create a whole new level of peace.
Annique thought she would miss out on life if she got sober, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Sobriety gave her a fulfilling, beautiful life that is full of so much joy. Annique says, “It gave me everything I ever wanted and more.” When it comes to sobriety, she wants to help others along the same path. She says that, often, you may think that you are alone or isolated, but that is not the case. She encourages others to not be afraid to ask for help and never be ashamed to admit defeat. If you ask for help, you will be surprised how many people are willing to help you.
In April of 2021, she launched her program “Wellness with Tess.” As a certified health and wellness coach, she works with women one-on-one to improve their mental, physical, and spiritual wellness. She has been working closely with 15 women and the program is tailored to each woman individually. Some like to collaborate and others prefer to be private. She particularly loves the one-on-one aspect of her program, which allows the experience to be more personal. Her program focuses on a variety of things: some women have very specific things they want to work towards such as transforming their bodies once sober, while others need motivation, guidance or are focused on things such as body image. One thing she is excited to implement in “Wellness with Tess” is online workouts.
In Annique’s personal life, sometimes wellness isn’t easy. Everyone has hard days. On harder days, she keeps herself grounded in a variety of ways. She reminds herself that this too shall pass, recognizes the importance of becoming more comfortable with being uncomfortable, and remembers that it will only get easier. When she is anxious or needs a reset, she takes a walk, gets offline, meditates, and seeks sunshine. She also enjoys the little things such as her backyard, trees, and birds chirping.
A lot of miracles have happened for Annique over the past year, which she credits all to her sobriety. When it comes to these big life moments, Annique states,
“They say, ‘stick around long enough for miracles to happen.’”
Recently, she got engaged on her birthday and plans to get married in September. She and her fiancé met in treatment and created a bond based on their shared experiences. She couldn’t imagine going through the quarantine without him. They have already built a house together in the suburbs of Las Vegas, Nevada.
During quarantine, her wellness has changed quite a bit. She became a lot gentler on her body, doing different, lower-impact workouts such as Pilates. She and her fiancé built a gym in their garage that they use daily, in addition to doing exercises in the driveway. During quarantine, she had time to focus on all aspects of her underlying health and mental wellbeing. It was a time to press pause and ask herself: “what do I want to do and create moving forward?”