The women of #CaribbeanPlus with the production team: José Rodrigo Madera, Rose Marie Nieves and Alexander Class.

Celebrating different body types, recognizing them, understanding and using that to empower yourself and feel free — that's what Rose Marie Nieves Domínguez aspires to. That is why she created #CaribbeanPlus, a movement that seeks to garner respect and admiration for all different body types. The first step for #CaribbeanPlus is a photographic exhibition which features voluptuous women and their bodies front and center.

"Security and acceptance is what guides this, and with that in mind, I want to persuade and convince all woman of larger sizes who feel insecure about their figures." Being a voluptuous woman, Domínguez describes her own last few years as "hard."

"Before I was only half of myself," recalls the 37-year-old  interior decorator from Puerto Rico. "It was a head trip to just leave the house, and if I went to the beach, even worse. I was so worried about people looking at me and what they were thinking. In lots of aspects of my life, being a larger woman made me feel ashamed and insecure."

It was a foreigner's admiration that shook her awake and helped her accept her body. "Look in the mirror, I like you just the way you are." Those were the words that helped to wake her up. At that exact moment she felt stressed and ashamed, but little by little, she began to feel more beautiful, more sensual and more assured of herself. Every day she felt a little more comfortable in her skin and in her curves. That's why she wants to create something that women of all ages and all body types can identify with, a movement that will help lose their complexes and insecurities and feel good about being exactly who they are.  

This theme crosses border and thanks to social media, we've seen campaign on a global scale backing this idea of body acceptance and of a new way of looking at the female body. Lane Bryant, the North American chain store for plus-sized women, recently celebrated this movement towards body acceptance with the #imnoangel campaign. The campaign was a jab against the notion that you can only be sexy if you have look like a Victoria's Secret Angel, who are supermodels with thin frames. Thousands of followers joined the campaign, uploading photos and proving that you don't have to be skinny to be sexy.

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The mix of races means that makes up the profile of a Caribbean woman, in this case specifically Puerto Rican, is incredibly diverse and hard to define. There's a little bit of everything; tall and short women, skinny and voluptuous bodies, fair, brown, and black complexions, curly, straight, and wavy hair. There is as much variety as you can find in a tropical rain forest. And in this variety you can enjoy the differences and the power to identify beauty in all sizes, colors and forms. Beauty is relative and there is always someone with the capacity to appreciate it. But even in this new millennium, there are those in society who choose discriminate and there are still standards of beauty that are much to narrow, assures Domínguez.

Finding Empowerment

"I want to break the stereotypes imposed on us by the public and society for all these years with Caribbean Plus. I intend to travel and make it possible for other women to echo our message," Domínguez says while prepping her next photo shoot. "I want women to feel empowered by their curves, so that they understand that this is the only body we have and that it's sacred. There is no time to lose out on the happiness, acceptance and security that comes along with loving yourself and who you are."

The public welcome has surprised her. Domínguez has posted some photos on her Instagram account along with the #CaribbeanPlus hashtag and there have already been a lot of women who have approached her wanting to be part of the project. Others congratulate and encourage her, telling her they identify with the movement.

The first thing Domínguez has planned is a photographic exhibition she's been working on with professional photographer José Rodrigo Madera and makeup artist Alexander Class. They worked together on a shoot that will be the focal point of the exhibition Galería Art Room in Hato Rey, San Juan on the first of December. There will be 10 four-foot-tall photographs, in which you can admire these beautiful women, looking secure and natural in their bodies.

After this first exhibit and as part of future projects, Dominguez wants to give advice on how to dress and find that perfect piece that highlights your figure. In addition, she intends to stay active on different social media platforms so that she can serve as the voice of the movement and help women by sharing advice, suggestions and empowerment techniques. She definitely wants to spread the movement throughout the Caribbean as well. Soon we'll see more and we will all be able to enjoy this project that seeks equality, respect and above all, self-love.

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During the photography session, makeup artist Alexander prepared each woman and made sure that they each felt comfortable and happy with their look.

Photographer José Rodrigo Madera worked on every single unaltered image, only changing them from color to black and white. “I loved the process. I always tried to find the best angle. It's admirable to see all of these women so secure in themselves."


José Rodrigo Madera captures the curves and confidence of Idalia Irizarry.

The ladies of Caribbean Plus: Patricia Sanabria Ibarra, Lillian Enid Nieves Rivera, Lourdes Inoa Monegro, Rose Marie, gestora del proyecto, Aura Estela Parra Acevedo and Idalia Irizarry.



“The power to help and empower other women is something I really enjoy. Seeing all these women enjoy the process is really beautiful to see," says Rose Marie Nieves Domínguez (pictured above).