Posted by Igigi Blogger on July 8, 2015
SIGNATURE STYLE MAKEOVER #2
by Catherine Schuller, AICI, CIP
Makeover Candidate: Denise Mercedes, Instagram Celebrity
Like any modern friendship these days, I met Denise on social media last year and was impressed with how well she “got it right” when it came to her ensembles. One of my pet peeves as an image consultant is how wrong some of the
influential bloggers are with their ensembles. You know my mantra is “Just ’cause you can button it doesn’t mean you should buy it.” It has become more and more apparent that proportion, balance and fit are not the major criteria used
when assembling outfits and placed up on social media these days. Forget about looking in the mirror and snapping selfies willy-nilly. If someone has a natural aesthetic and a personality that leaps off the screen, I’m engaged. Obviously I am not alone as Denise has amassed over 26,000 (yes thousand) followers in the past few years. It has been a meteroric rise by anyone’s standards, and I am amazed at her natural sense of style and ability to edit looks that really work for her. I chose her as my next makeover participant because she gets it right most of the time in her posts, even in light of her challenges: She is 5’5”, a petite curvy woman, size 16W – with a full bust measurement of 42”, waist 33”,
hips 48” (a true hourglass) and shoulder width of 19” (not overly broad)….Denise probably represents the majority of plus women out there in the world since most of the U.S. is 5’4” and size 14. However, that’s far from the going size and height of most models in the plus divisions of agencies today. Denise expressed her disappointment at being rejected by most agencies because of her height but instead of slinking away into the shadows, she took the cyber-bull by the horns and marketed her uniqueness. She now realizes (in the truest sense of the world) that she is a role model for her fans who find her shape and height similar to theirs and therefore much more relatable. It’s a testament to social media that everyone, no matter how far outside the accepted norm, can find a growing number of followers who admire them for their differences.
Denose is twenty-three years old, born and raised in Jersey from a Dominican family. She’s currently studying psychology and hoping to obtain her bachelor’s degree in a few years. She is great at reading people and has great
listening skills. She is an avid lover of animals and actually says she has telepathic conversations with dogs! She would have become a veterinarian in another life. Eventually, she turned from reading animals to reading people. I asked her about her beginning days on Instagram, the platform where she truly shines. We live in a world now where a picture tells a story and is worth a thousand words. She began on a weekly basis, taking photos of herself in a favorite outfit in the park with her friend and posting them regularly on Instagram. As soon as she began posting on IG she started to get followers, first a few at a time, then more and more over a relatively short period of time. Her followers started to grow so much so that she was encouraged to do it more often – sometimes three times a week. Consistency online is key these days–meeting expectations and delivering on a regular basis. She was thrilled when her followers provided positive feedback. Her fans would tell her how much they loved her images that showed a curvy petite woman who wasn’t stopping herself because of her height and size “limitations.” The irony of her story is that she started taking photos of herself out of her feeling rejected from the plus-size model agency world. It’s a lesson about changing the pot, not the chicken! She was shy and insecure but believed in herself and wanted an expressive outlet. Unlike her counterparts who don’t really know their appropriate style, she knew what looked good on her and was willing to share it out there in the world in hopes that she would simply see herself as a model on some level, even if what she was modeling was clothing from her own wardrobe and her campaign platform message was “self love.” Other women even told her that she had saved their lives! That’s when she understood that her positivity was truly beneficial.
One tip I learned from our time together is that she never uses a camera phone to post. She uses a Nikon camera with a zoom lens and her pictures are clear and well lit and have a depth that a selfie cam shot simply cannot deliver. She said
that her fans deserve the best visuals of her and respond in kind. A beautiful shot is a thing to behold, worth the investment. With 26,000 followers, she is quite inspirational and her fans are very vocal about it. Yes, she was shy and insecure, but she luckily didn’t have low self esteem…that was the difference. Since she can remember, her mother was a constant disapproving nudge about her weight. She was very thin and couldn’t understand why her daughter, Denise, wasn’t the same way. It seemed as though her mother badgered her because she was trying to shame her into skinniness, but we all know that always backfires. Her mother chose the worst possible shaming device ever – comparison. She had size 0, 2, 4 cousins and was constantly reminded by her mother that she needed to look like them. Thank goodness that her cousins didn’t jump on the bullying bandwagon! She was amazed that her cousins actually said she was beautiful, that her curves were gorgeous and that they weren’t perfect either – certainly not worthy of Denise feeling inferior around them. What cool cousins!! They encouraged and protected her, not beating her up any more than her mother already did! That fact was her saving grace…imagine if her cousins had been “mean girls” and fed the fire of her mother’s fat fanatic frenzy. I told her that she is truly a role model, turning obstacles into assets
and overcoming the feelings that she wasn’t good enough because of her mother and the rejecting New York modeling agencies. I can only say, “You go, girl!” It was my pleasure to IGIGI-ify you. It was a delight to get to know you, to
assess and dress you and hopefully your fans will love the results from our encounter.
Her Y.E.S.S. assessment resulted in her style being Dramatic and Alluring. She loves magnetic dressing, showing off her curves and cleavage. She knows that it’s about appropriateness and IGIGI has just the right body conscious clothing that work for her petite plus silhouette. Add sexy heels and a necklace and she’s ready for the world! With her extreme curves, she needs a dress that flows and emphasizes her hourglass figure.
Note: She took the quiz online and actually met me for the photoshoot a day after she had a terrible incident with her boyfriend’s ex girlfriends and friend who wound up confronting her and taunting her by saying, “So you think you’re a
model??” In an ice cream shop, they kept teasing and taunting until her friend said, “What is your problem?” They literally came at both of them and wound up yanking Denises’s hair and pulling a clump of it out and even snapping and hurting her neck in the process! I was appalled at her recounting of this episode that had just happened the night before. I also had a newfound respect for her. Even Shelia Gay Robbins of She She’s Closet who came along to add her gorgeous jewelry to the shoot was shocked when she heard the story. We wanted to pamper Denise as much as possible and make her feel amazing. Even with a boyfriend of three years, the ex-girlfriend isn’t leaving it alone. Denise still fights battles and with exposure comes disapproval and jealousy. A role model, indeed! IGIGI styles reflected her Dramatic and Alluring nature and She She’s Closet jewelry pieces, the perfect accent. I am so happy that we helped her feel like a pampered queen for a day at least! Her style was always there, maybe a bit on the exaggerated or even too casual style. Our focus on Dramatic and Alluring gave her a sophisticated and glamorous look which she embraced. She was a great model with wonderful instincts allowing her to access that deep emotional space that expresses
how she feels– “fierce and fabulous.” It shows in her face and eyes! I was impressed with her instincts and model potential. I would love if she could help me at F.I.T. when I teach. She could certainly be a shining example of the
women’s petite market….a much needed inspiration for my class as well!!
Think you’ve got what it takes to take my Y.E.S.S. Style Assessment Quiz [take yours here] and let me “IGIGI-ify” your look? Contact me at email@example.com. Send me a few jpegs of your face and body in your favorite outfits and you may be next!