It was a beautiful, sunny morning in the Hollywood Hills. Rosie and I were on set together in a beautifully designed home, shooting for SLINK jeans. We were sifting through the pulls for the day with the brand's co-founder and designer, Estelle Dahan, when we ran into a potentially uncomfortable moment.
"You only have size 16?" Rosie asks calmly. But, as any woman who has ever struggled to fit into a garment can, I sensed the discomfort in her voice. She picked up the pair of jeans that Estelle slid across the staging table to her and smiled her megawatt smile.
"I normally wear size 18, but . . . okay . . . well, let me give these a try!"
When Rosie came out of the bathroom in a pair of size 16 jeans that hugged her epic curves perfectly, she looked like a million bucks. And like someone who had just breathed a HUGE sigh of relief that she was going to fit into the garments that had been brought for her to shoot in that day!
Rosie and I for SLINK jeans.
Later, I asked Rosie about how she was feeling in that moment.
"After being panicky that I wasn't going to fit into the clothes for the day, going into the bathroom, trying them on, zipping them up, and then having them fit perfectly fine? After going from a size 36 to a size 16? That moment was a moment of total gratitude for me. It made me so happy for all the times that I worked out when I didn't feel like it, for all of the effort to take care of my body, for all of the hard work I've put in over the past few years. It was a moment that validated that I had accomplished a goal. Size 16--I did it! I'm not a size 8, 6, or 4...but being plus as well as healthy, I felt accomplished and motivated, and I took great pictures that day!" she recalls.
"You want to celebrate those moments! People forget to celebrate those successes," Rosie says, wisely. I was happy to be the one with her to celebrate that moment with SLINK jeans!
Rosie has received a lot of attention from the media lately due to her dramatic weight loss of over 200 pounds. While many have focused on how this transformation has affected her modeling career, which is skyrocketing, Rosie cites the desire to be a more present mother to her kids as the biggest motivation to make a change.
Rosie, fiercely reflecting for SLINK jeans.
"Monkey see, monkey do. When you have kids, you're not only responsible for your life, but also for how your actions impact your children," Rosie says. "They're like sponges, they absorb it all, good and bad."
"As a single mother, I want to be present every moment with my kids and show them that it is possible to turn your life around, to live limitlessly, not constrained by circumstance," she shares.
"In my situation, when I was bigger I couldn't fit on the rides at Disneyland. I had trouble getting through doors, sitting in chairs, the famous airplane incident--that was my experience based on my body structure," she explains.
"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. People have taken my story differently, but I'm just owning what my standards are for my life and nobody else has to agree with it. It's about creating your own happiness," she clarifies, addressing some of the negative feedback that has surfaced in response to her story.
Rosie is not one to shy away from negative feedback.
Rosie's new shape looking perfect for SLINK jeans.
"It's important to read the negative as well as the positive, for me. I want to understand where they're coming from. People are reacting emotionally to what I'm sharing based on their experiences. You can become a better person and learn from that, analyzing whether I did something right or wrong, how can I address their concerns and clarify my message, create more positivity," she says.
Having lived in the public eye for several years now, Rosie is very aware of what she puts out into the world, and dedicated to making a positive impact.
"I have to take responsibility for what I promote, for everything that I say, because it directly impacts people positively and negatively. When you have a huge social media following, that comes with responsibility, because it touches people's lives around the world. It really creates emotion, good or bad," she says.
"As humans we're responsible for the content we promote. I'm responsible for behaving according to my values, for acting with integrity, and respect, and for creating inspirational posts. I care for the people that follow my work and support me."
Rosie being adored for SLINK jeans.
This integrity has been key to Rosie's ability to build strong relationships with brands. "When I was approached to work with Igigi, whose holiday campaign I was featured in, I was honest with them about where I'm coming from. Being a single parent, going through so much, my successes and my failures, all of it. I'm honest with brands, my fans, and the public. I'm a public figure and I share my story openly," Rosie says.
Her transparency throughout her career as a famous plus size model has been one of the reasons that Rosie has faced so much criticism, but she takes it in stride.
"I also let brands know I'm human, and I'm a woman, and I go home to my kids and I have a life. That sincerity is key to the relationships I have with brands now. I've been honest about the good and the bad, which I've been criticized for, but I think that people relate to my experiences and respect my integrity. Clients respect a sense of integrity," she affirms.
Rosie is human and has her moments just like the rest of us. To manage her feelings and keep herself moving forward, she relies on a daily meditation practice.
Rosie at the center of it all for SLINK jeans.
"My mind is flooded with thoughts, day and night--about my transformation, my kids, my career, the negative and the positive, the chaos of life. Like anyone, I'm bombarded with lots of information throughout my day, and I need to work to achieve peace of mind," she shares.
"I love YouTube meditation tracks from Deepak Chopra. At 5am I wake up, and I sit and try to quiet my mind. I focus on breathing throughout the meditation, oxygenating my cells, and waking up my mind and body. This leaves me energized, ready to go, and gives me the mental focus to go after my goals each day."
So what's the key to becoming the woman that you want to be, like Rosie has? Rosie breaks it down for us:
"At the end of the day, you are responsible for your own life. You have to fight for your dreams and find your own happiness. Everyone won't agree, that's part of life, and there will be people who will want to jump on, or take advantage. But just focus on creating what you want for yourself and honoring your values. Let go of the negativity. They don't love you, don't hold onto it. Bless them and keep going."
To learn more about Rosie and to follow her transformation, follow her on Instagram @rosiemercado. Check back next week for another WIW2B profile of one of the beautiful faces of the TRUE Model Management #TRUEcurves board!
All photos taken by Paige Craig and provided for use in this post by SLINK jeans.