Happy Hispanic Heritage Month! We wanted to kick off this fabulous month by highlighting some of the Latinas who inspired us and the many other Latinas who grew up. These pioneering plus-size Latinas paved the way for many by breaking outdated beauty standards and following their dreams. We had to shine a light on some of the PIONEERS of the plus size game, who have been laying the groundwork for plus size fashion as we know it today…
Seeing someone who looks just like you doing something you never thought possible is truly inspiring and life changing. Many of us wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for these beauties!
This shows how powerful representation is and why we must continue to push diversity in the fashion industry!
Here are 14 Latinas Plus Size Pioneers You Should Know!
1. Paula Grisel
This model turned beauty CEO is originally from San Francisco de Macorís, Dominican Republic. In 2008, she landed a 6-page feature in Ebony magazine shortly after signing with a modeling agency.
In 2015, she became the face of the Maggie London clothing brand. She founded the brand, Rebdolls in 2014, to offer fashionable clothing from sizes small to 5X.
2. Denise Bidot
Denise Bidot has paved the way for so many curvy models today! The stunning Puerto Rican half made history in 2014 by becoming the first plus-size model to walk not one, but multiple runways during New York Fashion Week.
He remains one of the most recognizable faces in plus size fashion. Not only that, but he also recently dropped an Oil of Olay commercial! Speaking of representation!
3. Virgie Tovar
Virgie is a fat author and activist. Her knowledge and experience have made her one of the nation’s leading experts and speakers on discrimination based on weight and body image.
In 2018, she was named one of the 50 most influential feminists by Bitch magazine. She is outspoken about the harms of diet culture and has written several books on the subject.
Marcy Guevara wears many hats: producer, host, celebrity fashion stylist, business owner, and influencer. She is the co-owner of The Plus Bus, a second-hand clothing store in Los Angeles.
Marcy entered the plus size fashion scene in 2010 when she began hosting plus size fashion videos online. With her background in broadcast journalism, Marcy was a natural and has been a mainstay in the plus size fashion scene ever since.
5. Anastasia Garcia
Anastasia García is a body-positive photographer and activist. She uses her skills as a photographer to challenge the fatphobia found in fashion.
Anastasia’s photography appears in magazines such as Elle, Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan. Recently, she started a viral hashtag, #MyQuarantineBodyas a way to fight back against hurtful memes about weight gain during the pandemic.
6. Lornalitz Baez
Lorna Baez is an OG in the world of plus size fashion, and with good reason! The beautiful Latina has appeared on many catwalks including Baby Phat, DaDa, Lady Enyce.
In 2012, Lorna starred in the reality docuseries Curvy Girls. The show ran for two seasons, focusing on the lives of the most popular women in the fashion industry.
7. Fluvia Lacerda
Fluvia is possibly one of the most recognizable plus size models, period! The Brazilian model has walked runways, appeared on magazine covers, and done ad campaigns for plus-size brands like Torrid, and has been called “The plus-size Gisele Bundchen.”
8. Jay Miranda
Jay Miranda made her mark on the plus size fashion scene as a plus size blogger and has proven to be a mainstay in the plus size fashion world.
This Latina has a signature chic and feminine style and has proven that moms have stellar style!
9. Cristina Mendez
The daughter of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, Christina Méndez, has appeared in Glamour, Latina, Cosmopolitan, Essence and many others.
She is one of the first plus-size Latina models to serve as a featured model for clothing brands such as Baby Phat, Apple Bottoms, Ashley Stewart, Rocawear, and Dereon.
In 2016, Méndez was selected as “Model of the Year” by Full Figured Fashion Week.
10.Ashley Nell Tipton
Ashley Nell Tipton is a fashion designer who brings bold and playful designs to life for a plus size client base.
In 2012, she performed at New York Full Figure Fashion Week. From there, Tipton competed in Y won season 14.
She has been a busy bee! From patterns to plus size jewelry to her own collection with JCPenney, Ashley has been building. In November 2017, she relaunched her clothing line!
11. Rosie Market
Rosie Mercado is an American plus-size model, celebrity makeup artist, fashion designer, and television personality. Mexican Inspiration was named in 2019 by people in spanish as one of the 25 most powerful Latinas! Speaking of GOALS!
You can keep up with Rosie on her podcast, Girl With Self-Esteem Issues, and keep an eye out for her next book, both due out this fall!
12. Jennifer Barretto Leyva
Jennifer Barreto Leyva is much more than a plus size model. She is also an accomplished lawyer, writer, and activist!
Leyva is the first Latina to participate in Miss Universe Plus Size.
The Venezuelan trailblazer is also the Editor-in-Chief of Belleza XL. Belleza XL, which was the first plus-size magazine dedicated exclusively to plus-size Latinas.
13. Madeline Figueroa-Jones
Madeline is a talented producer, public speaker, and editor-in-chief of PLUS Model Magazine. A true trailblazer, Madeline has helped countless curvy women pursue their dream of working in the fashion industry by giving plus women a platform to shine.
She also continues to create countless opportunities and events to celebrate the fuller figure.
PLUS Model Magazine is a publication that celebrates the plus size modeling and fashion industry. PMM has been around since 2006 and continues to be a respected media source in the plus size world!
14. Nikki Gomez
Nikki Gomez began her plus size fashion career as a print model in 2004.
In addition to modeling, Nikki discovered her passion for photography, using her knowledge of the plus size fashion industry and her camera skills to help others shine.
In 2011, Nikki starred in Big Sexy, a reality show about the lives of plus-size models on TLC. She now, she works as a consultant for both models and agencies.
About the lasting impact
These plus-size Latina trailblazers on this list are all diverse and inspiring in their unique ways, and we can’t imagine plus-size fashion without them. Their work and contributions have only added to what we know and how we experience plus size fashion and the community that supports it.
Currently, there is a new wave of Latino influencers and models, like Taylee De Castro and model and TikTok star Denise Mercedes, who are at the forefront of plus size fashion.
This gives us hope that the plus size fashion industry will continue to expand because representation is a beautiful thing.
Our fellow Latinas know that we are quickly stereotyped and pigeonholed, but these ladies are great examples that you can be anything you dream of because Latinas are strong and powerful. <3