Plus Size Model Rosie Mercado Opens Up About Her Dramatic Lifestyle Change

Last year was a huge one for plus size model and entrepreneur Rosie Mercado as she returned to the public eye after a 200-pound weight loss that took the Latina TV personality from a size 36 to a 16. However, Mercado remains totally body positive about her weight loss, making a point that her decision had nothing to do with conforming to traditional beauty standards. In an interview with the Huffington Post, she told the publication, "The choice to lose weight was not about aesthetics. It was about quality of life and living in a way that meets my own values and expectations for myself. My own standards."

Following her return to the fashion world last year, finding out what Mercado has in store for 2016 was always going to be exciting. She reflected on her successful year via email with me, but didn't give much away about the upcoming months. "Working with Despierta America has been a dream come true, and the SLINK jeans campaign has been sexy and transformational," she says. "I am also on an episode of Newlyweds, working with celebrity stylist Brandon Liberati on a plus size shoot for the Bravo! network. I'm excited for all the new projects this year!"

From first appearing in reality show Curvy Girls in 2011 to modeling successfully for brands like SLINK Jeans last year, Mercado's career has never focused on one particular path. Instead, she is the star who wants (and deserves) it all. Her life wasn't always a glamorous one, and Mercado hopes to use her platform to inspire and help those who have also suffered trauma. "Respect yourself and others will respect you. Love yourself and others will love you," she tells me. "Don’t accept less than you deserve, because that’s where you get off track. Don’t stray from your standards and accept anything less. Don’t accept disrespect and don’t deal with. The way you treat others and yourself comes back to you."

Her strong beliefs and personal ethics are the kind of personality traits you arguably need to get ahead in a cutthroat industry. Mercado already proved herself a model, TV personality, and entrepreneur well before her dramatic weight loss, which only goes to show that it's all about the drive of the person, rather than relying on good luck or good looks.

Mercado took the passion and drive that helped her recover from a traumatic past and applied it to her career. Her advice for becoming a successful entrepreneur is incredibly thorough, but really all boils down to common sense.

"Listen to your clients, they will tell you what they want. Take your own reaction out of it, and listen to their words. Treat them with love and respect. Business is based on people. Take care of them and they’ll take care of you," she tells me. "I've been in different industries, and that's the one thing that's the same across the board. Take care of people that work for you, buy from you, and go out of your way and do things with excellence. Labels, packaging, everything — do everything neatly and respectfully and with excellence."

Regardless of how much weight you lose or gain, or your reasons for doing so, at your core will always be the same person you have always been. Mercado wowed the pageant circuit for years with her beauty, style, and confidence at a size 36. She had a successful modeling and television career at a size 36. Now at a size 16, she will continue on her path to success because she was always going to do that anyway.

Images: Courtesy Paige Craig for Slink Jeans