Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick.
—Gwyneth Paltrow

This is one of my favorite quotes. I have realized that once you are happy in your own skin, you will realize how beautiful you truly are—and believe me, I am still working on loving myself 100 percent. My name is Denise, and I am a 23-year-old plus-size model, born and raised in New Jersey. It took me a really long time to accept myself for the way I am. I never thought that being called a plus-size model would make me feel happy. Growing up, I wasn't confident at all; when I say at all, I mean I used to hide from people while walking in the streets because I didn't want people to see me. I didn't like who I was. I thought that beauty was defined by a girl who was a size 2 with long hair, light eyes, and flawless skin. I used to look at magazines and think to myself, Wow, I will never look like this.

Back in high school, I was bullied and had acne, and my classmates called me "weird" because I liked different things. I was called "Denise the Ugly One," during a time when I was already insecure and my self-esteem was the lowest of the lowest. I became so depressed my junior year of high school that I needed to be home-schooled because I couldn't be around anyone. I began to develop a really bad anxiety disorder and lost about 50 pounds. I got down to 115 pounds and expected that after losing all that weight, I would be happy. But no, I was even sadder. When I was a big girl, I thought that being skinny would make me happy, and then when I was finally skinny, I still wasn't happy and still insecure.  I even remember in high school while dating this guy—I was just so insecure that our relationship wasn't healthy. I felt that everywhere we went, he looked at other girls besides me, and my feelings got so bad that our relationship ended. 


I then realized that the only way I was going to be happy was if I stopped giving a damn what people thought and started loving myself for who I am. Nobody is perfect, and everyone is beautiful in their own way. I mean, imagine if every woman in this world was a size 2 and had perfect skin and long hair and light eyes; if everyone looked the same, how boring would that be? I realized that the more I loved myself, the more exciting my life became. I started getting into modeling, and when I stand in front of the camera, I forget that I was ever insecure about myself. 

When I started modeling, young girls started reaching out to me and told me how I was a huge inspiration to them. What they didn't know was that they were building up my confidence as a result. These girls telling me this made me love myself more and made me want to keep going with my modeling career.


Now, I am a size 12 and I love it! I love my curves and I love my hips. I would rather be a size 12 than ever be a size 2. I love my mid-length hair and I love my dark brown eyes. I walk down the streets with my head up and act like I am walking down my own runway. It is the best feeling in the world. Even my ex-boyfriend, who I dated back in high school, messages me once in a while to see how I am doing and tells me that I look amazing. Other people have even noticed my confidence. That is one thing I learned: Once you become confident, other people notice.


I know that it is hard to be confident and love yourself. However, I'll tell you that I’ve been through it, and it took me a long time to finally accept myself; but once you accept yourself, your whole life will change, like mine did. So what if you have acne or braces? Those will go away. So what if you're a curvy girl? Learn to rock it! You'll see how bad-ass you truly are.




Instagram @msdenisemercedes
Blog here



The grass is never greener on the other side, yet that never stops us from trying to hop the fence.

But what we fail to realize is that regardless of material or physical accouterments,
it’s our emotional wellbeing that gives us the freedom to enjoy them.
Insecurities hurt more than just ourselves; they burden our friendships and relationships as well.

Being a certain size doesn’t bring happiness. Denise has ridden that roller coaster and can speak candidly about it. When I tell you she loves her size, she loves, loves, loves it! Life is her runway.
She’s found self-acceptance and has discovered her uncanny beauty.
If self-love is the key, then it’s confidence that kicks that motha wide open.
Go, Denise! You truly are a badass!