Rosie Mercado was a former Latino plus-size model who earned celebrity status as a result of embracing being curvy. She would go on to polarize opinions by losing more than half her weight.

why she’s revered ✨

  • Starred in revolutionary reality show Curvy Girls
  • Won Miss Plus Size Nevada and America

I came across Rosie when she rose to fame in about 2010/2011 and found her to be an inspiring woman, most notably because she was a genuine woman of size with those impressive hips, who was starting to get attention because she did not appear to let her size define who she was. Nowadays, I have some opinions on Rosie, but I’ll start with some “defining” moments that really endeared her to the plus community at the start of the last decade.

early modeling

Sometimes when I look back on old photos of Rosie, I just say “wow.” As a woman of size, seeing some of the shoots Rosie did was eye-opening. These were not simply pin-up photos against dull backdrops, Rosie was being taken to a variety of locations and showcasing her fuller figure with lively aesthetics, such as an old school gas station or the middle of the desert (she is from Las Vegas I guess!) 

It’s clear to see that Rosie “has it.” The above image sees her depicted in an almost Goddess-like fashion, next to an archaic statue of a lion, her hair blowing in the wind, and the wraparound dress falling delicately around her hips into those shapely calves. I had grown up often seeing plus women hiding their curves. To see Rosie using the thick belt, bringing the dress into her waist and accentuating her hips, was liberating, and she struck me as a woman who radiated power.

In this image, we see a fat woman with a muscular man in a complete subversion of the fatphobic-centric society views on what men and women should look like. Seeing photos like this is important to show plus women, and of course younger plus size girls, that there is no qualifier for attraction. Again, Rosie appears to radiate.

Photos from: Resist Magazine (Everything’s Coming Up Rosie)

waving the flag for plus size women

Rosie used her fame to launch a successful career as a presenter. 

When I mentioned Rosie did not let her size define who she was, it’s really evident in her early YouTube videos where she adopted the role of “interviewer”, subverting the stereotype of what traditional television reports look like, as she shot a number of videos interviewing others about a range of topics.

Most pleasingly, in this video, she interviews a “plus size model” from South Korea. It is quite laughable that this woman would be considered plus size by our standards these days, but Rosie digs into the origins of this woman’s experiences and actually finds they weren’t too different to her own: being discriminated against because of her size, and being told she has a pretty face but she needs to drop weight.

Rosie also starred in the first, and to my knowledge only, reality show that focused solely on the lives of several plus size women. Airing on Nuvo TV back in 2012, it followed the adventures of Rosie and other Latina women of size. The show was less celebratory than their size than one would have liked, however.

One of the scenes of Rosie involved her being weighed, and basically shamed, at a gym for coming in at 340lbs, then went on to focus on her goal to lose weight. This presented being plus size as being wrong, and is a frankly toxic narrative.

using “plus size” for personal gains?

Okay, it sounds a touch harsh but the more you see of Rosie from this point on, the more you see a woman who isn’t really concerned with empowering other women of size, and more about getting a paycheque. 

Case in point: in this video, a promo for Curvy Girls, she’s asked what her biggest accomplishments are. Her answer: getting down from a size 32 to a 24 which allowed her to get more modeling work. 

Of course, 2012 was a different time. Tess Holliday was yet to truly begin the #effyourbeautystandards movement, and in the mainstream plus size modeling industry you generally can’t be too plus size. But to hear Rosie say this makes her seem self-centered and tone deaf. Instead of showing us a side of someone who obviously gave inspiration to many women (like myself) at the start of her career, and particularly I’m imagining plus size Latina women, she gives off the vibes that being plus size is just a means for her to get work, and that dropping dress sizes helped her do this.

This perpetuates the classic fat-phobic myth of “you’ll be happier if you lose some weight.” Of course, in this instance it’s “more successful if you lose weight” and it was a shame to watch this.

complete weight loss

It’s a sensitive subject. Rosie has gone on record saying people told her they wish she’d die on social media after she revealed her seismic weight loss. I would never wish anything like that on anyone and it must have been awful to read things like that.

However, there is something to be said about a woman making her name by being a “plus size model” then doing a complete 180 and losing all the weight. It begs the question if she was ever comfortable being that size, and if so she is not the role model she used to be for me. Personally, I have a lot of respect for her for her initial work as a plus size trailblazer and that is honestly the version of Rosie that I hope I’ve encapsulated as an inspiring woman.

rosie’s pre-weight loss measurements

  • Height: 5’9”
  • Weight: Reportedly as high as 410lbs, but during her rise to fame this was more like 340lbs.
  • Hips: 75”

where to find rosie now