While some faux-plus models vie for attention by appearing in ugly shock-value editorials, Rosie Mercado continues to be one of the industry's truly
leading-edge talents. By producing fashionable and beautiful images showcasing her genuinely full-figured physique, she continually proves to the industry that its discriminatory size limits are absurd, and that sufficiently attractive and talented models can produce even more gorgeous artistic results than their underweight rivals.
Ms. Mercado's latest shoot is by Oscar Picazo, the same photographer who captured her recent, highly acclaimed blue-dress images
, and appears to be part of the same series.
The latest images associate Rosie with the trappings of the Old West--a highly appropriate setting indeed, for in the mid-to-late 19th century, the time of America's Wild West adventure, no man would have taken a second glance at an androgynous, modern fashion waif. Today's supposedly "sexy" Victoria's Secret models would have been considered gangly and malnourished. Rosie, on the other hand, would have been the love goddess of the era. Any cowboy-hero riding into town and seeing Miss Mercado standing on her porch, as illustrated below, dressed in a lacy top that showcases her expansive figure, with a voluptuous hairstyle and a carnal look in her eyes, would have been driven mad with desire. The men of the era would have considered her the brunette answer to Lillian Russell.
Consider how effectively the above image generates an impression of the Old West--from Rosie's vintage lingerie top to the woodframe house and retro knicknacks--but stops short of becoming a period piece. It is fully convincing as a contemporary image, yet richly evokes the spirit of a better, bygone age.
Fans of Rosie Mercado have been thrilled to watch as the model has increasingly turned from producing headshots to creating full-length images that celebrate her luscious, size-28 physique. She hasn't lost a pound, nor dropped a single lovely inch. Rather, she has grown more confident in her body, and now invites all curvy women to feel likewise. The following photograph evokes the Old West even more vividly than the one above, complete with a wooden wagon, hay bale, and a cinematic sunset in the distance. If we think of this photoshoot in narrative terms, like an editorial, then in this picture Rosie personifies a dangerous vixen whom the hero of the story longs to romance, stealing a tender moment alone with her away from the saloon. However, he is unsure of her loyalty. Is she on his side? Or is she in league with the villain of the story? Or is she on no one's side but her own? Her mysteriousness makes her dangerous, and thus even more desirable.
Another image shows the model wearing that staple of Western attire, the cowboy hat. We have seldom seen this accouterment incorporated effectively into a shoot, but Rosie (who truly is an exceptional model, beyond even the allure of her sumptuous figure) wears it better than most. She flirts with the viewer in the most exciting of ways, sensually tousling her luxurious tresses to capture his attention, yet exhibiting a vain look that seems to say, "You know that you will suffer in desiring me, but you want me anyway." The most alluring touch is the fact that her barely-there apparel discloses her bare person along either side. This subtle glimpse of her figure is overpowering. In the narrative of this photo series, Rosie is now unmistakably the Bad Girl, terribly naughty, whose self-indulgent nature is evidenced by her lavishly well-fed physique, yet she is all the more enticing for that reason. The hero of the story knows that he should stay away, but he cannot.
Another image in the same outfit, sans hat, is even more seductive. Now the vixen leans indolently against the wall, her luxurious tresses tumbling lazily over her bare shoulders, as if waiting to be tousled. She displays her bare arm, knowing that the soft fullness of her limbs makes her irresitible. Her expression is a tad gentler than before. (One can almost hear a melting sigh.) Yet there is also a barely-suppressed smile in her eyes, derived from her assurance of her conquest. The hero of the narrative is powerless before her.
And now for something that even Rosie's most ardent fans never dreamed of--an image of Miss Mercado in intimate apparel. Even when size-12/14 Candice Huffine donned a swimsuit with cut-out sides, the result was daring, but on a sumptuous size-28 model, the effect is twice as sensual. The fitted top indicates the round swell of her waist, much as the straps press gently into her soft shoulders. In the context of our suggested Western narrative, the vixen has now revealed her alluring wickedness to the hero. But even as he comes to arrest her, she shows him the full measure of her beauty in this outfit, knowing that her luscious proportions will overcome his sense of right and wrong, and that he will absolve her of any crime. And she is absolutely right.* * *
The final two pairs of images still evoke a Western theme, but are rather more contemporary than the preceding set. These are even more stunning, though, because they more vividly showcase the opulence of Rosie's figure.
Rosie is a devilish delight in scarlet red. The dress lingers over the roundness of her waist and discloses soft curves along her side. She appears especially buxom, while her arms look soft and shapely. Her tresses are strewn over her bare shoulders in a profusion of feminine beauty. What especially distinguishes this image, though, is the alluring cruelty (there is no other word for it) in Rosie's expression, the darkest and most thrilling demeanour that she has ever adopted. She exhibits an almost diabolical degree of greed and wickedness, yet the effect is heart-racingly gorgeous. The backdrop, with the vintage railway car, the blue sky, and the touch of greenery, enhances the appeal of the image. The low angle makes Miss Mercado seem even more imposing and majestic.
The second scarlet image, taken inside the same vintage railway car, is scarcely less alluring. Here the model's expression is not excitingly evil, as in the picture above, but alluringly sinful, a study in the artistry of seduction. The effective lighting illuminates the voluptuousness of Rosie's upper figure, while leaving her nether proportions half-obscured in shadow, yet visible, thus tantalizingly suggested instead of closely defined. For all of the model's robustness, she also exhibits a certain delicacy in her features and in her bearing, a vulnerability that makes her even more captivating.
This thread could not possibly leave Miss Mercado threatened with perdition, however, so her final pair of images from this shoot thankfully present a theological counterpoint to her scarlet-red photos. If, in those images, she appeared deliciously devilish, then in these she is garbed in sanctified white. Moreover, although the fencing confirms this as an image from the "real world," the colours are truly heavenly, with green grasses that recall the Elysian Fields, a celestial blue sky, and hoses that glow in the sunlight like Gandalf's divine steed Shadowfax in The Two Towers. Though the jets of water in the backround are sprinklers, they resemble empyreal fountains. Rosie herself adjusts her demeanour perfectly to suit the angelic setting. Her face is filled with earnest sincerity, like a true believer inspired by a religious sermon or a sacred text, filled with the spirit of the Lord. Her dress appears to glow with an angelic light. Even her hair is illuminated with a divine radiance. Nevertheless, the viewer's thoughts about so luscious a figure simply cannot remain pure, for her physique is curvaceous and well-fed, buxom and bountiful--the body of a real woman. The dress offers a dizzying view of her bare person, and accentuates her voluptuousness. Somehow, the sacrosact qualities of the image make Rosie even more beautiful than she appeared in her most sinful images, posted above.
The final image is without a doubt the most size-celebratory photograph in the entire series, as bold and unapologetic as Rosie's celebrated blue-dress photos. With the verdant trees, the placid blue water, and the bright sky, this image carries over the heavenly themes of the previous photo. Indeed, the flowing water, and Rosie's ankle-deep position in it, as well as her white garment, make one think of a riverside baptism. Miss Mercado exhibits a kind of wholesome sexiness in this image that one often associates with Christian beauties, whose extravagant loveliness counterweighs their modest devotion to their faith. Past examples of Rosie in a white dress have been artistically overexposed, and therefore only suggested her proportions, but in this breathtaking image, the dress precisely reveals the full opulence of her person, even indicating the luscious roundness at her middle, as well as her abundant reverse-view curves. Never has Miss Mercado appeared as well-fed and gorgeous as she does here. The fuchsia vest provides a vivid colour contrast to the emerald-green grasses and the blue water.
If one wished to pick up the narrative from the previous photos, one might interpret this series as charting the salvation of an alluring vixen. Like a redeemed Kundry, Rosie's persona progresses from being a dangerous temptress to being born again and finding redemption. Yet she still possesses the sinful curves of her former life, and will forever inflame the most intense desire.
True "cutting edge" progress in plus-size fashion is not achieved with the kind of ugly, faux-shocking, puerile rubbish hat the so-called high-fashion magazines produce. Those kinds of gimmicky "anti-bourgeois" editorials are mere adolescent stunts, and do nothing to advance society's acceptance of larger female bodies. If anything, they do the opposite.
Rather, the most transgressive and original photo shoots are those that feature genuinely full-figured models looking gorgeous and celebrating every inch of their well-fed physiques. The curvier and lovelier the model, the more daring and subversive the images.
Rosie Mercado has always been highly creative and artistic in her test shoots, but these images constitute a new level of accomplishment for her, showcasing as never before the luxuriance of her figure. She is showing the world the kind of plus-size fashion industry that could exist and should exist, if it stopped hypocritically discriminating against legitimately curvaceous figures and truly embraced size-celebration.
Bravo to Rosie for her art, her beauty, and her courage.