Model Rosie Mercado expected to gain quite a bit as a result of her recent 200-pound weight loss, things like mobility, vitality and a new lease on life. But she didn't expect to gain social media haters.
Mercado, a plus-size fashion model and the new face of Igigi's holiday campaign, has been upfront with her social media followers about her weight loss, sharing photos documenting her transformation and posting candid confessions. For the most part, Mercado's fans have responded with positive feedback.
Yet soon after Igigi shared a New York Post article detailing Mercado’s “journey to #lovingherself” on Facebook, negative comments about the 35-year-old model's weight loss started to roll in. “I think it’s interesting that there are scores of plus sized models who don’t market themselves through weight loss, yet you choose to partner with one who does,” one Facebook fan comment on November 2nd. “You can’t separate promoting yourself and promoting weight loss if your support this article,” wrote another.
Mercado has since responded to her critics via social media, first posting a video in response to her critics on Facebook and later sharing pointed messages to her “haters” on Instagram (below). Now, she’s sharing her story with The Huffington Post in the hopes of setting the record straight.
HuffPost: What was your initial reaction when you read the negative comments written about you on Igigi's Facebook page?
What I’ve learned in life is that you have to be authentic. People pick up on that. And say the truth. Not everybody is going to celebrate. Not everyone is going to love you. I’m okay with that. Nobody’s telling them that they have to lose weight. I raised my own standards for quality of life for me and because I want my kids to live in a different style. I want them to be conscious about things that they do and how it affects their body, and understand that their body’s a temple, and that’s what you need in order to accomplish your goals.
Now that I am 200 pounds, I’m able to enjoy different things that I wasn’t able to [before] because I didn’t fit, I was too heavy.
I didn’t fit in the chairs at shows. You have to call ahead of time. You need to find out what kind of seating they have -- is it theater seating? Stadium seating? That’s one. Two: Is there a booth or a table at a restaurant? What kind of chairs [do they have]? Are they sturdy enough to hold me? Are they wooden or metal chairs?
Back then, did your weight impact the way you felt about yourself?
When you have to hire a nanny to go with you to spend time with your kids, and you have to stand there and not enjoy those moments because you’re too big, it really affects you. You feel awkward. You have a limited lifestyle. Also, you’re limited in energy. It really affects the feeling of freedom.
My goal at the end of the day is I don’t want my hips to hurt. I don’t want my knees to hurt. I wanna be free. I don’t want to worry about the things that I can’t do. I don’t want a limited lifestyle, and I want my kids to be happy. Rosie mercado
How have you reconciled being body-positive with deciding that you want to change your body?
Body positive means that you love yourself. Body positive means that you take care of the body that you’re given because it’s the only body that you have to accomplish your goals, to accomplish your life’s purpose. Body positive means that you watch what you take care of. You feed your spirit as well. It’s not just the eating part. It’s the educational part as well. It means that you accept your perfections and imperfections -- everything that comes with your body you’re able to accept it.
It’s definitely not about becoming a certain size. Do I have a goal? Absolutely. I wanna keep trimming down. My goal at the end of the day is I don’t want my hips to hurt. I don’t want my knees to hurt. I wanna be free. I don’t want to worry about the things that I can’t do. I don’t want a limited lifestyle, and I want my kids to be happy.
What have you learned about yourself throughout this journey that surprised you, either physically, emotionally or mentally?
That if people don’t like me, it’s okay. It’s not a reflection of me, but it’s a reflection of them. People will always be judgmental whether I’m 200 lbs or 400 lbs, and they have to live with that. I can choose not to live with that and keep going on my journey. I think [it is important to be] happy with what you’re given and what you have.
How has your journey impacted your children?
My weight loss has impacted them with quality of life. I’m able to spend time with them. I’m not tired all the time. I got on a bike for the first time this weekend. My next goal is to buy my bike and be able to take my kids on a bike ride. I’ve never been able to do that with them, so it’ll be something completely new. And they’ll be able to grow up with those memories.
And when you accomplish a goal, celebrate those mini victories. A celebration along the way is what keeps you motivated to keep going. Rosie Mercado
What is the the one thing people should keep in mind as they prepare to embark on a similar journey?
I think whether it’s weight loss or you’re [pursuing] a career goal or a relationship goal or a spiritual goal, you have to ask yourself: "Why am I doing this?" You have to have clarity if you want to be successful, because the moment you get tempted or don’t feel like doing something, then you have "the goal is this and I’m doing it because of that." I think understanding that when you make a decision that is going to change your life around, thinking “who else is this going to impact?”
Every decision that you make, when it’s a major decision, it impacts the people closest to you. For me, that’s my family.
And when you accomplish a goal, celebrate those mini victories. A celebration along the way is what keeps you motivated to keep going.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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