"I really want to be able to show my body off because there haven't been many plus sized women at all showing their bodies in a big magazine," Holliday, 29, told ET. "They're usually always covered up. I really like to portray something sexy and positive."
At 5'5" and 280 pounds, Holliday is proud of every curve and she showed them off in black lace underwear for her People shoot.
"This was a really different, exciting, bold choice for People," People editor Zoe Ruderman said. "It's the first time we put a size 22 supermodel on the cover. She's really someone encouraging body positivity. We're in this new era of plus size models. It isn't a rarity anymore."
Putting Holliday on the cover seemed to be a risky move at first, as she's not a known face. People's reservations quickly faded after testing with focus groups that responded extraordinarily well to Holliday.
Holliday's story is unique. She wanted to be a model since childhood and chased after that dream even when it seemed impossible. She faced many obstacles early on including an upbringing plagued by domestic violence and relentless bullying in school.
"It's a big statement for People magazine to say, 'Here! This is a diversified example of beauty,'" plus size supermodel Emme said. "It's one example of many many more to come."
Holliday's People cover hits newsstands Friday. The issue also includes stars like Penelope Ann Miller, Jillian Michaels, Candace Cameron Bure and Katherine McPhee.