PLUS Model’s 15th Anniversary Issue, Featuring Jessica Milagros
Jessica Milagros graces the cover of PLUS Model Magazine’s 15th Anniversary Issue!
Jessica Milagros is a plus-size model, actor, and content creator most recently known for being on the 21st season of CBS’s reality show Big Brother. And while the rest of the world became acquainted with her on TV, in the plus-size community, and to PMM she is the smart, beautiful Latina who has fiercely supported visibly plus-size models, fashion, and unity among the industry.
This month as we celebrate 15 successful years in the plus-size industry we are so excited to have Jessica grace our cover once again.
Some people were first introduced to you via BB21. Within the plus-size industry and community, you have been a plus-size model with a JCPenney swimsuit collection and former PMM cover model. Let’s chat BB21… what are your fondest memories of the experience?
Looking back on my time there, some of my fondest memories on the show were being able to experience the crazy wild competitions that I would watch from my TV that I never saw a woman my size do on that show. It was all scary and nerve-wracking at the time, but being able to really challenge myself to remain present during so much drama, rough decisions and to also deal with the difficulties that living with 15 other strangers present…. When I tell you I feel like I can do anything, I really mean it.
What was the toughest part of being on the show?
The toughest part about being on the show, aside from living with 15 other people (and only seeing the light of day two days a week), was being away from my community, my tribe. Being so different (being the only Latina Plus size woman on the show) and trying to make alliances with people knowing that it’s a game and someone is going to backstab you at any minute. It almost feels like you always have to be on. I mean, the cameras are on you 24/7 too but at least modeling had me used to cameras – Lol!
What did you learn from the experience?
I realized that mentally, I’m an incredibly strong human being – LOL. I’m definitely a lot more patient than I thought I was. But I also realized that regardless of a game where I have to backstab someone in order to win $500,000 that I stayed true to myself, my beliefs and played as honestly of the game as I could. That game is known to really show the ugly in people.
During the pandemic, you did an IG takeover for PMM and we learned that you love art, yoga, and whipped coffee. Tell us about pushing through such an unprecedented year and what you are looking forward to the most as we enter the last 6 months of this year.
Wow, this past year was beyond hard for so many of us and I really want to give everyone a hand for surviving through it. At times it felt harder than anything else in the world.
The stress from sets closing down had me change my focus on other parts of my career and the only thing that I think really saved me was my art, my family/support system, focusing on creating a plan that would prepare me for when the country opened and lots and lots of reality TV that I was recapping on my YouTube Channel, “Girl, Let’s Agree to Disagree”.
As the country starts to slowly open up I feel very optimistic and I’m looking forward to not only seeing loved ones again in a safe space and going on vacation but to pick up on the projects that were also held off for some time.
Let’s take it back to the very beginning. How did you get started in the plus-size modeling industry?
I started in the modeling industry while working at a marketing agency. They chose me to help head a project for retailer Lane Bryant and all the research that I did during that time introduced me to the beautiful plus-size community.
Researching, I found ways to work locally then saw that PLUS Model Magazine was hosting a model search and I submitted. I won second place over thousands of entries and soon after that signed to an agency. So PMM has been there through most of my career.
Diversity has become a buzzword in the fashion industry and media, how do you feel as a Latina in the plus-size modeling industry? Is there room for more diversity in your opinion?
Can I say that it’s very rare when I work with another Latina and that really makes me sad. That being said, I am seeing more nontraditional beauties and more of my BIPOC sisters in-store posters, in campaigns, in magazines and that makes me extremely happy. However, there is so much more room for growth and even more diversity. If I’ve been taught anything the past couple of years is how performative this world is. So it’s not a matter of how far we’ve come, but how much work we need to keep putting in, in order to not make this just a trend.
In April 2014 we chatted with you about the term plus size and why it was so important for us to change the narrative (View here). How do you feel your work has contributed to this change and all that you shared with us so many years ago?
Working in this industry for almost 10 years, I can say that I feel the same I did back then that I do now. I am really proud of the strides that we’ve made as a collective in regards to body diversity and reclaiming the term plus size. Aside from all the rejection models receive, it was important for me to keep going and be that representation that I wanted to see… the representation that I didn’t see when I was growing up.
It was the main reason I went on Big Brother and after being on the show, despite so much criticism and hate, I also received so many amazing messages from women who said I helped them with their own body image.
It’s crazy to see that 7 years later, regardless of the improvement, I still see a lack of representation in the media. I mean I was and still am the only plus-size woman on a regular season of Big Brother. There’s still work that needs to be done.
What is your advice to aspiring models and models who may not be feeling encouraged to continue as the world opens up again?
First and foremost, the most important thing is to love what you do. Really figure out why you were drawn to the modeling industry and what you want to accomplish during that time. Then get ready to be put through the wringer – LOL! But also have in the back of your mind that everybody has a season and their time to shine.
I realized it’s not an industry for those with frail egos. There’s a lot of criticism that models endure, lots of rejection, lots of work, and investing that we do. But all that hard work can eventually turn into something beautiful, so always keep pushing.