People assume she’s big because she eats her sorrow. They see her size-26 bottom and size-18 top and decide she must be pretty damn depressed. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mercado loves life. She’s doing everything now she didn’t do when she was younger, she says, her cellphone beeping constantly. She models, styles, works as a makeup artist, travels and hosts red-carpet events. Girls write her to say they’ve never seen someone her size doing what she’s doing. Mercado tells them it isn’t about being thin. Real beauty is about being healthy — spiritually, physically and emotionally.
Don’t get her wrong. Being big isn’t easy. People criticize. They straight up hate, or discriminate. There was the time agents at Southwest Airlines refused to let her fly unless she bought an extra ticket for a second seat. Assholes in line laughed. Mercado cried.
Or the time casting agents asked her to play the fat girl in a 50 Cent video. “We’re looking for someone with cankles,” they said. “Please don’t be offended, but we need someone really fat and disgusting. Is that you?”
There were the many, many times that fashion industry people flipped through her portfolio, fell in love with her beautiful face, then balked after seeing her in person. “Sorry,” they’d say. “You’re too wide.”
Then there are the ones who give her advice. “You have so much talent,” these well-meaning souls say. “Drop the weight and you’d have so much work.”