In the competitive field of modeling where beauty and shape garner the spotlight, one Latina model carves her own curvaceous path to the top as a plus size model.
LatinaLista — Olga Gonzalez-Ramos is a beauty. With her brown eyes, olive skin and 5'8" frame, this New York City-based Latina makes a living from her looks with the one occupation known to capitalize on a woman's good looks and figure -- modeling.
Yet, in the fashion capital of the United States where competition among models is fierce and merciless, this 36-year-old has learned to tap into that elusive inner peace by dedicating her professional life to a simple mantra: "Don't hate me because I am fat and beautiful!"
Olga is what is known in the fashion industry as a "plus size model." At a size 24, she has been a print and runway model for about six years. The funny thing is she never really had sueÃ±os (dreams) of seeing herself strut down a catwalk or "Vogue pose" for the camera.
"I always heard from family and friends that I should model," Olga said. "But it was always at the same time others would suggest that if I lost weight I should become a model. It just didn't appeal to me."
However, her husband found the possibility of being married to a model irresistible. Finding out about a plus size modeling contest, he teased his wife he was going to enter her. Unbeknownst to Olga, he actually submitted a picture of her to contest officials.
Being a good sport, she went to the contest judging. It was while she was there that she met a retired plus size model who had opened up her own business. She complimented Olga on having a very unique look and recommended that she pursue modeling as a career. It was all the encouragement Olga needed to follow her new path.
It wasn't long before this life-long curvy Colombian American found herself at modeling calls alongside girls who fit the more popular shapeless profile of the traditional model. But it didn't discourage this strong-willed Latina.
"I wish I can say that I will one day be a size 12," Olga confessed. "But I can't guarantee that. I am a gordita (fatty) who goes on the treadmill and stays there for an hour or more."
But it's not that Olga necessarily wants to exercise her assets away to look like her competition.
"The percentage of women in America that are over a size 14 is close to 70 percent," Olga said. "It's very high, so I know there will always be a market for plus size women because almost every fashion designer, now to make money, has got to cater to the larger woman or their sales are going to go down."
While Olga relishes her modeling success and half-jokingly says she'll stay in the business for another 20 years, she cites her proudest achievements as being a mom, wife and daughter.
"(Raising) my children is a job that will never end. I don't see myself getting fired by them no time soon."
But being a model and busy mom are only two of the many roles Olga plays these days. For the past four years, she has been a working actress who has appeared in music videos, movies and network television, as well as, writing articles for print and online publications and putting the finishing touches on her first bilingual children's picture book manuscript.
Yet, Olga gains the most satisfaction from helping teens upset over their weight and being picked on at school by delivering motivational lectures. It's a new direction she's impatient to explore and add to her growing roster of activities.
"Society and media still lack giving a lot of respect to the plus size woman or man, and they are just taking their sweet time," Olga said. "I can't sit around waiting for someone to accept me. I must go after my goals and complete my vision."