From Mom to Role Model: 6 Things to Know About Plus-Size Fashion Star Tess Holliday

The plus-size model is also a mom and fianceée who counts Miss Piggy as a personal inspiration

Photo: Anthony Evans

Tess Holliday is a size-22 social media star who’s taken the fashion world by storm. Subscribe now for an inside look at how she is reinventing the word “supermodel,” only in PEOPLE!

Tess Holliday has had an incredible year – she signed with a major modeling agency and booked gigs she’s only dreamed about, including a campaign with plus-size clothing brand Torrid.

However, the size-22 model, 29, is way more than just a gorgeous face with a boundary-shattering body.

Here are six things to know about the Mississippi-born social media star:

1. Tess isn’t her real name.
Holliday was born Ryann Hoven but changed her name to Tess when she started doing alternative modeling.

“I chose Tess Typhoon because it sounded good, and then I chose Tess Munster because I like TV show The Munsters,” she told PEOPLE of her former alter egos.

She began using Holliday, her fiancé’s last name, when she signed with MILK Model Management in January.

2. She met her fiancé Nick on Tumblr.
“He messaged me on Tumblr in 2012 and he said, ‘I love how you inspire other women,’ ” Holliday says. “I just remember thinking how cute he was, so we started talking and it quickly turned into a relationship.”

Three years after they initially met, Nick moved to be with her in Los Angeles.

“I already knew I wanted to marry him before I met him,” she says.

3. She has a 9-year-old son, Rylee.
Despite an incredibly busy work schedule, Holliday does her best to make motherhood her priority.

“I pick my son up from school every day, [do] homework [with him], ” she says. “I just want him to grow up loving himself, to just be free to be himself. That would be the greatest goal in my life. My career’s amazing, but it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have pushed myself as hard as I have.”

RELATED VIDEO: Tess Holliday: From Bullied Teen to Size-22 Supermodel!

4. She used to work as a makeup artist.
Holliday was working behind the scenes of the fashion industry as a makeup artist before her own big break.

“I had been interested in makeup forever,” she says. “My mom had bought me Kevyn Aucoin books when I was 13 and it changed my life. I still do makeup – but not as much because I’m busy!”

5. Miss Piggy is one of her body inspirations.
She counts the Muppet character and Beth Ditto among the women she admires – and even has a tattoo of the famous pig.

“I’m inspired by a lot of people,” Holliday says. “I’m inspired by basically all women and men.”

6. She doesn t care what people think about her weight.
Holliday has never been persuaded to lose weight by people who criticize her for her size.

“When people are telling you, ‘You’re fat and gross,’ it does the complete opposite,” she says. “At the end of the day, they’re not paying my bills.”

For more on Holliday, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

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