Q&A with plus model Denise Mercedes

Photography: @andylvmac
What made you decide to become a plus model? 
Well, when I was 13 years old,  I started working at a photography studio for a friend /neighbor and I loved working there. It was so much fun because I met so many awesome people. Most of the people who I met were mostly models so after meeting all of these models, I loved what they did. So I remember saving up a lot of money and buying myself a professional camera. So on my days off, my friend and I use to go to the studio and take pictures of each other like we were models and we just loved it. As I got older, I wanted to continue modeling as a hobby. The only problem was, I wasn’t a size 2 so I couldn’t be a model. Back then, plus size modeling was not popular as it is today. When I saw people like Denise Bidot, Taralyn, and Ashley Graham, I felt that I can start modeling again even if I’m not a size 2 and now I am where I am today.
How hard was it to break into the fashion industry as a plus size girl? 
It was hard and it’s still hard because I have not fully broke into the fashion industry. So far , I am still underground. In other words , I only model for brands that are not quite known. 
Your photos ooze confidence and style. Have you always been confident with your curves? 
No, I have not. I use to be really insecure about myself especially when I was a teenager. I didn’t look at my body as curvy, as I do today, I saw my body as fat. I use to compare myself to other girls in my school and they were all mostly thin so I was pretty insecure. At the age of 17, I started to suffer from depression and because of that, I started to lose so much weight. I was so skinny and people were telling me that I didn’t look good and I realized that even as a skinny girl, I still felt insecure. So no matter whether I was skinny or curvy, I was still insecure. After using all of that way I started to miss my old body which was being curvy and that is how I started to appreciate myself . 
How do you maintain your curves? Do you workoutand watch what you eat?  
I work out at least 3 days a week and I eat normally, I don’t diet but I try not to eat out all the time.  I also try not eat past 7 pm. 
Why do you think the fashion industry favours the “thin ideal” ideology when the average woman in the UK and the US is a size 16 and 14? 
Well,  I read in an article that the industry prefers thinner models because the clothes will show more than the model. Apparently, the thinner a model is, the attention will be on the clothes that they’re wearing not on the model which I think is really sad. I think that if they were to use models that were more curvy, then most of the attention would be on the model not on the clothes.
The plus fashion industry has in recent years made great progress into showing the media that plus size is just as important and beautiful. How do you think we should keep pushing for equality?
I think that we should be doing exactly what we’re doing and we should continue to inspire other women. I love what Lane Bryant is doing and I think we should keep doing more campaigns similar. I also think there should be more plus size brands. 
What is your favourite type of shoot? 
I love all kinds of shoots but my favorite kind of shoot would be a test shoot because the photographer and I can get creative and doing fun things with the hair and make up and create really cool pictures.
Finally, keep the plus or drop the plus? 
I say, keep the the plus. I feel that word plus makes us sound more special!
Photography: @andylvmac
Follow Denise on her instagram for more beautiful fashion updates and gorgeous model shots: @msdenisemercedes

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