Up until a few years ago, many women of color, particularly “plus-size” or just women bigger than a size 2 really, were often excluded from major fashion campaigns, advertisements and designer runways. Many of us never saw ourselves or women that looked like our mami, our tias, and our best friends represented in the fashion industry. In recent years, a crop of brave Latina models have been making waves in the fashion world, making it their mission to demand representation and spread the message that fashion is not only for one body.
Clothing and modeling campaigns should be as diverse and rich as the women that wear them. While the road to complete inclusion is still long, these inspiring, brave and beautiful Latina women are proving that beauty is found in all shapes, shades, and sizes, no matter what anyone says. So, go ‘head, girls!
Diana Veras was born in Santiago, Dominican Republic and moved to NYC when she was a child. While her career is still on the rise, she has already nabbed some incredible campaigns for Opening Ceremony to Calvin Klein and has appeared on the cover of Bazaar! Diana once told i-D magazine about her early insecurities,
“All I wanted to be was an American, as did everyone else in the Dominican Republic. I wanted to grow up to be one of the girls in the magazines. I quickly got over that once I moved to Washington Heights and realized nothing was like it was on TV and in the magazines. My mom was beautiful to me, her friends were beautiful to me. They weren’t stick thin, they didn’t have blue eyes, and they didn’t speak English either.”
She is now determined to be the face that young Latina women see in print; the girl that she never saw.
Paloma Elsesser is a multiracial model, who has described herself in Allure; “My prescribed identity to people is always going to be Latina. My mom is black, and my dad is Chilean and Swiss…I look really Latina, but my ascribed identity is mixed. I’m not one thing.” Paloma gained a strong following on her Instagram for her distinct style and looks, which eventually led her to meeting makeup legend Pat McGrath, who made her one of her main muses. Paloma wants to expand beyond modeling and makeup and told Allure, “…Ultimately I want to have some kind of voice in this movement in a way that’s big or tangible…ideally I’d like to be Oprah [she laughs] and write more.” Expect big things from her!
Alessandra Garcia-Larido might have been born for the camera. Her father is Cuban actor Andy Garcia, but she has been hard at work in her career for many years, and it is paying off. She’s walked the runway for Christian Siriano, starred in campaigns for Dolce & Gabbana and Lane Bryant, and has been photographed for Vogue Italia and Vanity Fair Mexico. Alessandra has said of her own struggles with confidence, “Full self-acceptance didn’t come to me until I looked at my body as a fact, rather then a negative or positive. Step one for me was saying to myself, ‘I’m a big girl and there is nothing wrong with that.'”
Denise Mercedes is Dominican model, born and raised in New Jersey. She began her career as a fashion blogger, and became a signed model with MSA Models in NYC. She’s since worked with Forever 21, Target and JC Penney and has launched her own body positive social media campaign with #becauseitsmybody, to further spread the message of embracing the body you’re in.
Barbie Ferreira is a Brazilian model who first became known from her Instagram photos and posts. She told Glamour, “Social media opened up basically every opportunity for me because, traditionally, I wouldn’t be thought of as a model.” Her first gigs included posing for American Apparel and she gained national attention with her body positive Aerie campaign, showing her body totally un-retouched. Barbie is also now stepping into new territories by hosting a new show, How To Behave, on go90 (presented by Vice’s Broadly,) in which she hilariously explores the modern definitions of proper etiquette. With her charm and looks, she might be hitting the big screen next!
Denise Bidot is a Puerto Rican-Kuwaiti model born in Miami who originally had dreams of being an actor. By a chance encounter while doing a plus-size model’s makeup, she was asked to pose in some photos and her career took off. Denise has starred in campaigns for Forever 21, Levi’s and Target and became a runway muse for fashion brand, Chromat. Denise was also inspired to start her passion project to eventually grow beyond fashion, the No Wrong Way Movement, meant to inspire self love and acceptance for all.
Roxy Reyes is a Guatemalan beauty whose career got a huge kickstart when a certain famous Kardashian slid into her DMs. Before she modeled, Roxy was a fashion blogger who eventually started posting outfits on Instagram. On a fateful day, Khloe Kardashian was scouting models for her new denim line, Good American, and reached out to her, and the rest is history! Roxy became a part of Khloe’s #GoodSquad and has since been signed to LA Models and told Galore of her career goals, “I want to put plus-sized Latina women on the map.”