Latinas Are the Top Names in Plus-Size Fashion

They are gorgeous, Latina, plus-size and very proud of all that defines them. We spoke with editor and founder of PLUS Model Magazine, Madeline Figueroa-Jones, and Latina models Rosie Mercado and Denise Bidot about their journey into the fashion industry's "plus side."

Madeline Figueroa-JonesMadeline Figueroa-JonesEighteen year-old Madeline Figueroa-Jones was thumbing through a fashion magazine when she came across one of the first makeovers ever done in publishing; the particular article took a few girls, put them on a diet, and then, made them over. This Boricua got so aggravated that she took three of her own larger-sized girlfriends, styled them to the nines, had her boyfriend take pictures and sent them along with a passionate letter proving how these girls could readily represent chic style and kick ass beauty in their own sizes. Years later, Madeline Figueroa-Jones (along with fellow Latina Valerie Amador) would launch PLUS Model Magazine, becoming one of the most influential publishers in the industry.

Rosie Mercado/Oscar Picazo

When Mexican-American makeup artist Rosie Mercado entered the Miss Plus America pageant in 2009, little did she know that she would not only win the crown that night, but that she'd end up walking the runways for Full Figure Fashion week, appear in NGC's "Tabboo" and nuvoTV's "Curvy Girls", and that today she would be the face and figure of some of the very best in plus size fashion design.

SLIDESHOW: Rosie Mercado's best shots

Denise Bidot/Enrique VegaDenise Bidot/Enrique VegaDenise Bidot wanted to be an actress, so at age 18 the Puerto Rico native left her home in Miami to make it in Hollywood. She was doing makeup for the entertainment industry when she was asked to appear on a Tyra Banks show discussing size acceptance. Today, this curvy Boricua graces the plus-size editorials of Glamour and All You Magazine, models for major retailers like Kohl's and Nordstrom, represents designers from Monif C to Kiyonna, as well as being "the body" for Hips and Curves lingerie. This fall you can find this new international model starring in nuvoTV's "Curvy Girls."

SLIDESHOW: See Denise Bidot work it for the camera

So, what's it like to be a plus-size Latina in the fashion industry? We asked these trailblazers to share their experiences and give their best advice on how to break into the modeling business.

  • Know what you want. "Ask yourself why do you really want to become a model. It shouldn't be just about modeling or making money…it's really about making a statement that women from every size and every part of the world are valuable, beautiful and should feel empowered," says Rosie Mercado.
  • Start testing and build a portfolio. "Make sure to have the best photographs possible, images that show what's unique about you," says Mercado. Bidot also offered a tip: "Find models to admire and mimic them. Then, get five straight poses in pictures that will help you create your brand."
  • Learn about the industry. "It's all about inspiration, aspiration and money," says Figueroa-Jones. It's also about learning basic skills like walking the runways and posing for beauty shots. "Know that there will be rejection," adds Bidot. "Today it's a blonde, tomorrow, a brunette. Never let them get you down."
  • Take care of your body. "Find what's healthy for you, and stay there," says Bidot. "Don't let others dictate your size." "Skin and hair should glow; teeth should be immaculately clean," adds Figueroa-Jones.
  • Start networking. You have to be in the know. "Build your brand, have a presence in social media, follow all the relevant brands, and if possible, go to New York and attend fashion shows like Full Figure Fashion Week," says Figueroa-Jones.
  • No ugliness: When it comes to being a model, Figueroa-Jones offers a bottom-line: "There should be no vulgar nakedness in your images, no cursing in your speech, and make sure you come into the industry with a humble heart."

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