Women To Know: Rosie Mercado, Susana Martinez & More
Rosie Mercado doesn’t care that she’s a size 24, because she’s a plus-size model who promotes body diversity. As a 32-year-old mother with three children, Mercado begin entering pageants after her divorce three years ago. She has now won Miss Plus America Cover Girl, Miss Plus America Runway Model, and Miss Nevada Plus America. She began this journey as a way to get to know herself and help women struggling with body image. Even though Latina women are often praised for their curves, Mercado is aware of the lack of body diversity among pageant contestants, and Latina women’s desire to meet the physical norms of a typical pageant queen.
Women competing in pageants seem to have much bigger aspirations than being the most beautiful woman in the room and looking good in a gown. Pageants are popular among Latinas because it allows them to give back to their communities, as Mercado tells it. “It’s not just about getting dolled up.”
Mercado is reinventing and dominating the fashion industry with her ambitions. Having endured years of weight struggles, Rosie wishes for plus-size women to be “less clandestine” and have better social acceptance.
In 2010 the United States elected its first Latina governor, Susana Martinez, and she has become a political voice for conservative Hispanics. Thought to be non-existent in the Republican party, Martinez is fighting for Hispanics to be a part of the political process, and not just be people to “visit” to add diversity to a campaign.
Having received an approval rating of 60% according to Rasmussen Reports, Martinez has helped alleviate the corruption in New Mexico and is tackling children’s education. She sold the state’s jet in 2011 for $2.5 million dollars and used a portion of the funds to buy new books for schools. She and her husband do not have any children, but are her sister Lettie’s primary caretakers due to her struggles with cerebral palsy.
Though Susana Martinez missed becoming elected as Vice President, having been on the list of potential picks, she is campaigning for more Latinos to be elected into office. She is fighting for an immigration reform and giving Hispanics the voice they deserve.
Montgomery, Alabama-born Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton (December 11, 1926 – July 25, 1984) is an oft-eclipsed pioneer. Her career began in a Baptist church where her father was a minister, her mother a church singer, and all seven Thornton children sang. Immediately drawn to all things musical, Thornton also taught herself to play the drums and harmonica. After her mother’s death in 1941, Thornton left Montgomery and eventually settled in Houston, Texas in 1948.
In Texas, Big Mama joined Peacock Records and in 1952 recorded her biggest hit, ‘Hound Dog.’ The track skyrocketed to number one on the R&B charts for several weeks. However, despite a powerful voice and good connections, she never quite topped that first big success. Elvis Presley re-recorded the song three years afterward without ever having heard of Thornton. Still, her career was busy and successful. Between 1964 and 1978, Big Mama Thornton managed to get ten records under her belt. She also performed at multiple jazz festivals in the United States, from California to New York, and abroad in Europe, and was nominated for multiple awards.
Big Mama Thornton continued to work for small record labels and sing at festivals until her death in 1984. She was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame later that year.
What do you think of these amazing women? Is there anyone you’d like to see featured here? Leave us a comment and share!
Written by Leah Moreno and Rose Shapiro