As a successful plus-sized model, Rosie Mercado is used to people commenting on her shape and size.
But she never guessed that she would be trolled on social media for having lost weight.
Mercado, 36, has been the victim of an onslaught of hateful comments about her having gastric surgery and shredding 240 pounds from her once 410-pound body.
“People feel strong hiding behind a computer, but they don’t know the reality. At the end of the day, I love people and I understand there are a lot of hurt people out there,” Mercado told Fox News Latino.
From fat activists calling her a sellout to one person she claims told her to kill herself, Mercado has been the target of online bullies for the last two years for dropping from a size 34 to a size 14.
A mother of three who lives in Las Vegas, Mercado told FNL that she had lost 100 pounds through to a low-carbohydrate, low-dairy diet, coupled with an intensive exercise regimen.
When she started to gain weight back, she said, she made the extreme decision to have surgery.
“I decided to lose the weight when they told I would need to buy a second seat on an airplane," Mercado admitted. "I couldn’t fit into cars, or do things with my kids. My body was holding me back from leading a full life. It’s all about freedom of choice. It wasn’t about beauty or my career. Beauty comes from inside.”
Mercado’s youngest son suffers from a mild form of cystic fibrosis. She says her excessive weight meant she wasn’t able to carry him or help him walk. She was hiring people to essentially take care of her kids and spend time doing activities with them that she couldn’t do herself.
Mercado says that, after taking off the weight, her career has begun to take off.
“People compare me today to photos of me in the past, but seriously I’m still full-figured. I’m 170 pounds,” Mercado said. "When you feel good about yourself, you radiate that, and opportunities follow."
Mercado says being in the business of modeling has helped her develop a thick skin, but she worries about people who don’t have that experience.
“All that hater talk is a reflection of what people think of themselves. I focus on inspiration and the good,” she told FNL.
In the end, Mercado says, she just rolls with the punches.
“Love is the answer. It’s about having self-love. The grass is always greener, but understanding that perfection doesn’t exist. You have to love yourself and make choices for yourself. Life isn’t perfect,” Mercado said. To young girls struggling with their weight and with bullying, she says, “Stay true to who you are and be authentic. Negative comments might sting, but keep being you.”
Rebekah Sager is a writer/editor for Fox News Latino. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @rebekah_sager