Meet the tattooed, size 22 model taking over the fashion industry

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Tess Holliday appears on the current cover of People magazine’s annual body issue, being celebrated as “The World’s First Size 22 Supermodel.”

The 29-year-old has had a big year, becoming one of the top plus-size models in the world after landing a contract in January with the U.K.’s Milk Modeling agency.

In March, Holliday made news for posing without Photoshop in new ads for retailer Torrid, a fashion line for sizes 12 to 28.

She’s also a proud swimsuit model who is working to change beauty standards.

And she has a giant social media following.

1. Tess Holliday is a social media star.

The model boasts over 903,000 Facebook fans and over 724,000 Instagram followers. Holliday’s growing fan base is also, in part, to thank for her new modeling contract.

“I started following her [on social media], and saw how many followers she had. More than most models,” Anna Shillinglaw, owner and director of MiLk Model Management, told NY Daily News. “She’s such an important role model for so many women.”

In 2013, Holliday started her #effyourbeautystandards movement on Instagram, encouring people to embrace body types of all shapes and sizes.

The hashtag has gained serious traction, currently with hundreds of thousand of posts:

2. Her size is unprecedented in the modeling world.

Plus-size agency models are generally taller than 5 feet 8 inches and U.S. size 8 to 16. At 5-feet-5 and size 22, the 29-year-old Mississippi native is the largest model repped by Milk.

“I think we’re the only agency with a model of her size,” Milk Agency’s Shillinglaw told NY Daily News. “She is by far the largest model I have in the (Curves) division.”

Tess is the largest plus-size model to be signed to a mainstream modeling agency.

3. She has tons of tattoos.

Holliday’s ink includes: a Miss Piggy tattoo on her right outer forearm, a Mae West tattoo on her right inner forearm, a Marilyn Monroe tattoo on her left bicep, a plus-size mermaid tattoo on her right upper thigh and a Hello Kitty tattoo on her right calf.

4. In 2011, Holliday was chosen as the face of A&E documentary, “Heavy.”

Holliday didn’t appear on the show, so she felt conflicted about representing it, telling plusmodelmag:

It’s a show about morbidly obese people. I didn’t know what the show was about. I didn’t know what angle they were going in. I’m obviously proud to represent everyone on the show. I know some of them personally now by being the face of the show that changed their lives. I feel like a cheerleader. At the same time, it’s hard for me because I’m not morbidly obese–although I am overweight, but I’m not at the point that they are. I don’t have a health condition and I’m not going to die if I don’t lose weight. I just happen to be curvy.

5. In 2013, Vogue Italia named the self-described “body positive activist” one of the top six plus-size models in the world.

6. By 2014, Holliday had accomplished many of her modeling goals.

“I think I finally hit that moment where I accomplished everything that I dreamed of as a child,” Holliday told Parade magazine at the time. “I thought: ‘I’m on billboards now. David LaChapelle has photographed me.'”

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