If Denise Bidot looks familiar. There’s a reason why. The 30-year-old Puerto Rican and Kuwaiti plus-size model has spent the last 10 years changing peoples’ minds about what a “model” is and can be.
Bidot’s face has been attached to brands like Nordstrom and Old Navy not to mention seen on billboards, runways and advertisements from Target to Times Square. She’s also made headlines for being more than just a pretty face. In 2014 Bidot became the first plus size model to walk in New York Fashion Week and has appeared on runways from Sweden to London. Between dipping her toe into reality TV (remember Curvy Girls on NUVO TV?) she has been outspoken about promoting self love and self acceptance to anyone who will listen. Her latest effort is the “There’s No Wrong Way to be a Woman” campaign that “aims to teach women there’s no perfect body shape, color, ethnicity or ability.”
Bidot who hails from “a family of educators” kicked down the door of convention as a rebellious 18 year old. She left her native Miami for Los Angeles to become an actress. When she learned she wasn’t getting acting gigs because of her size, she opted out of being in front of the camera and went to work behind it as a make-up artist instead. The switch paid off. While working on a photo shoot, a photographer took test shots of her and posted them online. Her career was born shortly after.
We caught up with Bidot to find out what her movement is all about, what she thinks about dating Latin men and what she’s planning to conquer next.
‘LL: It’s been almost four years since you came into the spotlight. Tell us what you’ve been up to since debuting on reality TV?
Denise: I’ve had a really wonderful ride. The last four years propelled me to another level. I worked really hard, had faith that it would work out. As a single parent it was great to figure out who I was and to be able to share that journey with my daughter Joselyn. I started getting booked consistently and have been working with Target for years now, Lane Bryant happened right after that and then New York Fashion Week 2014. It was this really wonderful opportunity to do something bigger than myself. I’ve always been really transparent in who I am and what I stand for. I’ve always felt like the underdog. When I saw that crack in the door I ran through it.
‘LL: You have a huge following on social media. How has that helped you?
Denise: I’ve been lucky in that social media was playing a part in helping to take peoples careers [to the next level] when I got started and I’ve been able to see that and be part of that evolution. I’ve always been transparent that my purpose is to help other women feel beautiful. My fans have always been able to count on me for support. I was lucky to have figured out my strength is what makes me different. I’ve always tried to shine that light on other people. [Social media] followers feel very connected to me and are always so vocal about supporting me. It’s a beautiful thing.
‘LL: What’s been your biggest challenge?
Denise: I’m not perfect by any means: I have stretch marks and cellulite. But all of my flaws have only been empowering for me so I’ve never let anything stop me or put me down. I always believed my message was stronger and bigger than anything else. If you know who you are there’s nothing that can break you.
‘LL: How has the industry changed since you started?
Denise: When I started 10 years ago modeling people didn’t equate curvy girls with fashion. I think we’ve always been alienated or the “stepsister.” The last few years we learned we can bring everyone together. And with companies actually listening to consumers now they’re understanding that everyone wants to feel beautiful and accepted. Everyone wants to walk down the streets of New York and feel like they’re walking a catwalk.
Learn about Denise’s movement and what she thinks about Latino men after the jump…