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Happy Hispanic Heritage Month! Here are 14 Plus Size Latina Pioneers to Know!

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month! I wanted to kick off this fabulous month by highlighting some of the Latinas that inspired me, and countless other Latinas growing up! These are the PIONEERS of the plus-size game! These Latina plus size pioneers paved the way for so many by shattering outdated beauty standards and following their dreams.

Seeing someone who looks like you, doing something you never thought possible, was truly inspirational and life-changing for me. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for these bellezas!

It goes to show how powerful representation is, and why we must continue to push for diversity in the fashion industry!

Here are 14 Latina Plus Size Pioneers to Know!

1. Grisel Paula 

Plus size latina pioneers to know: Grisel Angela
This model turned CEO belleza is originally from San Francisco de Macoris, Dominican Republic. In 2008, she scored a 6-page spread in Ebony magazine shortly after being signed to a modeling agency.

In 2015, she became the face of the clothing brand, Maggie London. She founded the brand, Rebdolls in 2014, to provide fashionable, trendy from sizes Small to 5X.

2. Denise Bidot

Plus Size Pioneers to know: Denise Bidot

Denise Bidot has broken ground for so many modelos con curvas today! The stunning half Puerto Rican made history in 2014 by becoming the first plus-size model to walk, not one, but several runways during New York Fashion Week.

She continues to be one of the most recognized faces in plus size fashion. Not only that, but she has also recently dropped an Oil of Olay commercial! Talk about representation!
 

3. Virgie Tovar

Plus Size Pioneers to Know: Virgie Tovar

Virgie is an author and a fat activista. Her knowledge and expertise have made her one of the nation’s leading experts and lecturers on weight-based discrimination 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 multiple books on the subject. 

4. Marcy Guevera 

Latina Plus Size Pioneers to Know- Marcy Guevara Pete

Marcy Guevara wears many hats: producer, host, celebrity fashion stylist, business owner, and influencer! She co-owns The Plus Bus, a second-hand clothing shop 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 – Photographer

Latina Plus Size Pioneers to Know- Anastasia Garcia

Anastasia Garcia is a photographer and body-positive activist. She uses her skills as a photographer to challenge the fatphobia found in fashion.

Anastasia’s photography is featured in magazines such as Elle, Marie Claire, and Cosmopolitan. Recently, she started a viral hashtag, #MyQuarentineBody, as a way to fight back against hurtful memes about weight gain during the pandemic. 

6. Lornalitz Baez – Model


Lorna Baez is an OG in the plus size fashion world, and rightfully so! La hermosa Latina has graced many runways, including Baby Phat, DaDa, Lady Enyce.

In 2012, Lorna starred in the reality docuseries, Curvy Girls. The show had a two-season run, centered around the lives of popular plus women in the fashion industry. 

 

7. Fluvia Lacerda

Latina Plus Size Pioneers: Fluvia Lacerda

Fluvia is arguable one of the most recognizable plus-size models, period! The Brazilian model has walked runways, graced magazine covers, and shot ad campaigns for plus size brands like Torrid, and has been called “the plus-size Gisele Bundchen.”

 

8. Jay Miranda 

Latina Plus Size Pioneers: 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 elegant, feminine style and has proven that moms have stellar style!

 

9. Christina Mendez 

Latina Plus Size Pioneers: Christina Mendez

The daughter of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, Christina Mendez, 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 such clothing line brands as Baby Phat, Apple Bottoms, Ashley Stewart, Rocawear, and Dereon.

In 2016, Mendez was selected as “Model of The Year” by Full Figured Fashion Week.

 

10. Ashley Nell Tipton

plus size bodysuit at AshleyNellTipton.com

Ashley Nell Tipton is a fashion designer that brings bold and playful designs to life for a plus-size customer base.

In 2012, she showed at New York’s Full Figured Fashion Week. From there, Tipton competed on and won the 14th season of Project Runway.

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 Mercado

Plus Model Rosie Mercado

Rosie Mercado is an American plus-size model, celebrity makeup artist, fashion designer, and television personality. The Mexican inspiracion was named in 2019 by People en Espanol as one of the Top 25 Most Powerful Latinas! Talk about GOALS!

You can keep up with Rosie on her podcast, Girl With Self Esteem Issues, and be on the lookout for her upcoming book, both coming out this Fall!

12. Jennifer Barretto Leyva

Latina Plus Size Pioneers: Jennifer Barretto Leyva

Jennifer Barreto Leyva is way more than a plus-size model. She is also an accomplished lawyer, writer, and activist!

Leyva is the first Latina who participated in Miss Universe Plus Size.

The Venezuelan pionera 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

Latina Plus Size Pioneers: Maddy Jones

Madeline is a talented producer, public speaker, and the editor-in-chief of PLUS Model Magazine. A true trailblazer, Madeline has helped countless mujeres con curvas pursue their dream of working in the fashion industry by giving plus woman a platform to shine.

She also continues to create innumerable opportunities and events to celebrate the fuller figured form.

PLUS Model Magazine is a publication celebrating the plus size fashion and modeling industry. PMM has been running since 2006 and continues to be a respected media source in the plus-size world! 

 

14. Nikki GomezLatina Plus Size Pioneers- Nikki Gomez

Nikki Gomez began her career in plus size fashion 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 skill with the camera to help others shine.

In 2011, Nikki starred in the show Big Sexy, a reality show about the lives of plus-size models on TLC. Now, she works as a consultant for both models and agencies.

 

Lasting Impact

The women on this list are all diverse and inspirational in their unique ways, and I can’t imagine plus-size fashion without them. Currently, there’s a new wave of Latinx 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 me hope that the plus-size fashion industry will only continue to expand because representation is a beautiful thing.

My fellow Latina’s know, we are quick to be stereotyped and put in a box, but these ladies are prime examples that you can be anything you dream of because las Latinas son fuertes y poderosas. <3 

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Written by Mayra Mejia

Mayra Mejia (She/Her) is a fat-positive, queer Salvadoran-American editor, writer, activist, and content creator. Passionate about fostering strong and inclusive body positive spaces, she founded PLUSH DMV, a DC-based fat-positive community.

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