Groundbreaking plus size model to be signed by mainstream agency

The fashion industry is celebrating a new model, who is a size 22 and unapologetic about her looks.

MiLK Model Management announced Thursday via Instagram that it signed 29-year-old Tess Holliday to a modeling contract, and Plus Model Magazine immediately hailed Holliday as "the first plus size model of her size (22) and height (5-foot-5) to be signed to a [mainstream] agency."

The modeling agency's owner told the New York Daily News that she first noticed Holliday on Instagram, where the L.A.-based model is not afraid of lingerie and has 345,000 followers as of Tuesday morning. The owner called her an important role model.

Holliday herself told the New York Daily News: "I feel like it's breaking ground. This is a milestone. I never could have imagined that I could be here."

Holliday — formerly Tess Munster, which is still the name of her blog — said she started trying to land modeling gigs as a teenager, but she was told that she was too short and heavy.

The industry is tough, and more so for women who don't fit the tall, incredibly skinny profile.

"You get ridiculed for not being big enough, you get ridiculed for not being small enough," one model told VFiles. "I think models are models."

This isn't the first foray into plus-size modeling by a mainstream agency.

Calvin Klein quickly found out last year that gaining respect from plus-size women wasn't as simple as having one wear its clothing when it signed Myla Dalbesio. (Video via InStyle)

When Calvin Klein marketed Dalbesio -- who's said her largest size ever was a 12 -- as a plus-size model, the company came under intense criticism for effectively saying that 12 was a plus size.

For Holliday's part, her signing helped spark the social media movement #EffYourBeautyStandards, with plenty of people voicing their support for what they hope is better representation in mainstream media and fashion.

For anyone critical of her size or health, Holliday told the New York Daily News that she's very active, has a trainer and works out four times a week. 

She's retweeted some fans' support, including one woman who tweeted her the hashtag along with a message that it was her first time wearing a dress in a decade. Our favorite tweet might be Holliday's own message from late Monday night.

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