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Latinas Emerge in the Plus Size Modeling Industry

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(Left to Right: Natalie Monet, Nicole Esperanza Zepeda, Jakaliene Rivera, and Danielle Zavala.)

Full Figured Fashion Week has come and gone. It's almost been two weeks since the event and I'm still trying to catch my breath. Hitting the streets of New York City, plus size fashion made its mark in one of the world's most fashionable cities.

As the beautiful models hit the runway, I couldn't help but notice the Latinas who were representing-Natalie Monet, Nicole Esperanza Zepeda, Jakaliene Rivera, and Danielle Zavala.

Then I started thinking of some of the other plus size Latina models who are making an impression in the industry, like Fluvia Lacerda who is known worldwide as the "Plus Size Gisele Bundchen," Denise Bidot and Rosie Mercado who are now taping nuvoTV's Curvy Girls, and Griselangel Paula who has been seen modeling the latest fashions on Forever 21, Macy's, Lane Bryant, Kmart, Dereon and Baby Phat.

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(Left to Right: Fluvia Lacerda, Madeline Figueroa Jones, Denise Bidot (Plus Model Magazine/Photography by Inez Lewis), Griselangel Paula (Plus Model Magazine/Photography by Luke Jones), and Rosie Mercado,

And I can't forget model and editor-in-chief of Plus Model Magazine-Madeline Figueroa Jones. As the shopping editor of this groundbreaking online magazine, I am often inspired by her passion.

"Makes me very proud to see Latina models on the runway and making headlines. As a very proud Latina myself I'm encouraged when I see these young ladies reaching their dreams and being visible for young Latina girls to see them. I wish I had these types of models to inspire me when I was growing up," said Jones.

In my blog Curves and Chaos, I've written about my struggle with accepting the body I had in high school. So, I know how she feels! I used to think I was fat as I weighed a mere 120 lbs at 5'6, often comparing myself to the girls in the magazines. I wish I had someone to look up to, like Jakaliene Rivera who just won Seventeen Magazine's 2012 Fiercly Real Model Search.

When I asked what advice she would give to aspiring Latina models she replied: "Go for it! Anything is possible. Follow your dreams. If you have passion and drive it's awaiting you. Dream big and never give up. Embrace your curves."

Danielle Zavala, who was recently featured in Latina Magazine, was crowned Mrs. Plus America in 2011. She has been modeling for two years and feels that the presence of Latina models is slowly picking up. Fellow model Natalie Monet has been in the game for three years now and feels the same way I do.

"There are only a handful of Latina plus size models out there and I think we need a stronger presence," said Monet.

I wonder why this is? Nicole Esperanza Zepeda feels it might have something to do with our culture.

"Our culture is incredibly family-oriented.  Our lives revolve around love, incredible work-ethics, and amazing food.  But, many of us are middle to lower class.  The reality of us taking risks to pursue a career in modeling, or the arts, is unfathomable," said Zepeda.

The only way she sees Latinas stepping up to follow their modeling dreams, is if others pave the way for them. In my opinion, I think they're all doing an amazing job so far!

For me these women are more than plus size models; they're a representation of today's hard working, accomplished, perseverant, and proud Latina. They're proud of the curves they were born with and they want nothing more than to see more women like them in this industry.