THIS IS A FEMALE TO MODEL OURSELVES AFTER - DENISE BIDOT IS CHANGING THE GAME
DENISE BIDOT: PLUS-SIZE MODEL
Denise Bidot is stupid-pretty. Like not only is she incredibly photogenic but in person, she’s one of those natural beauties whose face you can get lost in if you’re not careful. But even more than that, Denise is a living breathing example of “pretty is as pretty does.” You see, not only has she rapidly become one of the most sought-after plus-size models in the game, but beyond her many campaigns and her job as TV personality and judge on Univision, she’s actively using her voice to encourage inclusivity within her industry and within our culture as a whole by creating things like the @nowrongwaymovement. This half Puerto-Rican half Kuwaiti female is thinking B-I-G and not apologizing one bit as she declares in her favorite movie quote:
“It occurred to me then, that perhaps the reason for my growth was I was intended for larger things. After all, a giant man can’t have an ordinary-sized life.” - Big Fish
And now Denise gets NAKED for us. Yay!
Denise. I loved you the moment we met. First on the Simply panel in New York but then I really got to know you on the set of our NYDJ campaign shoot. You are a light, a force, and using your notoriety for positive change which is so dope! Tell me about growing up in Miami. Do you reflect on your childhood positively?
Thank you so much Catt, you’re so sweet. Getting to chat with you was tons of fun during the shoot. I had a wonderful childhood. I grew up in Miami with my mom, who was a single parent. My mom always worked really hard to ensure that I didn’t miss out on any opportunities. I tried every extracurricular activity available, from ballet, to karate, to tennis and band. I explored all my creative and physical talents and by the time I was in middle school I knew I leaned more towards the arts. I was always very involved in school and got good grades, even though my head was always in the clouds. Every summer I would travel to Puerto Rico and spend it with my family. My cousin Carissa (who is 3 years older than me and the closest thing I have to a sister) and I would stay up and watch movies. It was during those summers that my love for TV and film developed. I spent the better part of high school taking acting classes and preparing myself for my career and by 18 years old, I had moved across the country to LA in pursuit of my goals. I was and always will be a silly, nerdy, happy girl.
What woman in your youth shaped who you are today the very most and why?
My mother was the one whom I can proudly say made me the woman I am. I also want to note that I come from a family of very strong women. My grandmother and my aunt have always been there for me in a way that allowed me to continuously feel love and supported. My mom is a woman who has always put family first, loved unconditionally and worked her butt off my entire life. She was transparent and I shared in her struggles and her successes in a way that made transitioning into adulthood a bit smoother. It was also through her battle with self love and yo-yo dieting, that I learned how silly basing your happiness on a size is, and that is a lesson she gifted me.
So you came to LA at 18 and wanted to be an actress but were told repeatedly to lose weight. What did that do to your self esteem? Did you try to diet? At what point did you say, “F it.. I’m gonna do this my way and create my own destiny.”
When I moved to LA, I really thought that the doors would open up immediately. I thought my talent would be enough but the reality was that I was attempting to enter a world that wasn’t quite ready for me. I was constantly told I would be perfect for the part if I would lose a little weight. At the time I was young and stubborn and I felt strongly about not changing myself for an industry. I felt great at the size I was at and I was certain someday someone would see me and book me. I had seen my mom struggle with her weight and the last thing I wanted was to go down the same path. I kept auditioning but honestly nothing happened and after almost a year my mom asked me to go back to school, which is when I enrolled in makeup school. I figured if I wasn’t in front of the camera, at least I would have a chance of working behind the camera. I got discovered while doing makeup for a plus-size model. Funny enough, I was asked to work as a plus-size model and not needing to change a single thing about myself.
Wikipedia lists you as a “plus-size model.” We both know you are waaaaaaay more than that singular description but succeeding in modeling has certainly given you a platform and helped you grow an audience. What do you love about modeling?
When I first started modeling I had no idea what an incredibly rewarding career I was setting out on. I have learned not only about myself and how resilient one can be, but also learned about the world. I’ve traveled to magical places for work and have met some phenomenal humans along the way. I feel truly grateful to have taken the leap of faith into modeling. Playing with fashion is lots of fun but there is a lot of hard work involved as well. The most insane thing is that I get to help and connect with women across the world. I learned a long time ago that this occupation was bigger than me, it was for everyone who was ever told they weren’t enough. I am proud to represent the fact that dreams do come true.
You are not only beautiful but have this undeniable sex appeal. You wear itty bitty things on Insta and often rock the runway wearing next to nothing! When you set foot on the catwalk, what are you telling yourself? Nervous? Excited? Petrified? Cocky AF?
Haha - thank you Catt! Right before any runway walk, I say a small prayer. To keep me focused, safe and to give me strength . Then I put on my game face and get ready to rock the runway. In truth, it’s 50% cocky AF and 50% scared AF.
You’re an activist that champions body-positivity. Did you always have a healthy view of your physical self?
I learned a lot from my mom and the people I grew up around. I always had my head on straight when it came to body positivity and self love. I was always a little taller and more developed than the rest of the girls and definitely let a bit of bullying in elementary school get me down, but once I made it into the arts in middle school, I let that be my outlet.
Are you concerned about the damage social media is doing to young girls as so much of what we say is tweaked, photoshopped, filtered and straight up fake?
It’s scary to think of what girls are being exposed to at such a young age. That’s why the work myself and my colleagues are doing is so important. Shifting what they see in the media is crucial. Having girls see imagery that is inclusive allows them to feel represented and empowered.
What do you tell your daughter Joselyn about self-love and body-love?
I have always been very open and honest with Joselyn and she has had a front row seat at my life and career. She has seen what I stand for and she has also had the privilege of seeing the “magic” happen - hair/makeup, styling, lighting, photoshop, everything. That has given her an awareness into the reality of the business. She gets to see how different sometimes the final image looks and that even the models aren’t perfect. We have to remember kids are sponges and mirrors. I do affirmations with her, we have healthy debates and I always have open communication with her. If she has any questions, I’m always here for her. This next generation is brilliant. She’s the best legacy I could ever leave behind.
You have made it very much your mission to not just take pretty pictures and grow this successful social media audience and modeling career, but to also speak on panels and work consistently as an activist. Why is using your voice so important to you?
For me modeling was cool and fun, but I realized a very long time ago that I had the power to shake things up and start the change from the inside out . I was frequently in rooms with designers, buyers, CEOs and noticed that they started asking for opinions on the market and the consumer and as quickly as I gave my suggestions they would put these ideas into motion. It was just the beginning and then I started connecting with my followers and listening to their stories and finding ways to uplift a community that was in need of love. I genuinely wanted to help women find their “happy place.”
What do you make of the LPA - Revolve clothing campaign debacle recently in the news? (A very skinny model was wearing a sweatshirt that read ‘BEING FAT IS NOT BEAUTIFUL. IT’S AN EXCUSE.’ Apologies have since been issued and the original intent of the line was to expose cyber bullying.)
We all have the ability to do better and do more. This campaign was shocking. Sometimes i wonder how things can have so many people overseeing them and not one person sees the problem.
Who is your girl crush?
Pryanka Chopra . I adore her and really look up to her for fashion and makeup inspiration.
Do people compare you to Ashley Graham? She certainly paved the way in many ways for other plus-size models don’t you think?
I am constantly being compared to Ashley, but it’s nothing new, this has been the case my entire career. It’s flattering but I think we both offer something completely different, even in regards to our messaging and background. I think a small but determined group of plus-size models have helped pave the way and of course Ashley Graham is certainly in that mix. It’s been fun to be a part of the revolution and even greater to finally see all of the years of hard work paying off. Change is finally here.
Tell me what you love most about hosting Univision’s Nuestra Belleza Latina?
I can confidently say that it’s an honor to be a part of the very needed change within Latin media. To be a curvy woman on Latin TV is rare, even more rare because I’m entering a TV show that for the past 10 years has had size and age restrictions that many women didn’t fit into. It’s a breath of fresh to have those restrictions lifted and to help judge and be able to mentor the contestants makes me so happy.
Congrats on your Olay campaign. Huge! Your skin is amazing. What do we need to know?
Thank you! Being a part of the Olay campaign is a dream come true. I have to say, the daily facial wipes have officially become a staple in my skin care routine, I’m obsessed. The most important thing for anyone, in regards to skincare, is cleaning your face in the morning and before bed and making sure you put SPF during the day and moisturizer at night. I also try to not wear makeup when I’m not working, balance is key.
VODKA OR TEQUILA?
FIRST THING YOU DO WHEN YOU WAKE UP?
Wash my face and moisturize it.
WHAT WOMAN WOULD YOU WANT TO SWAP BRAINS WITH?
Lucille Ball- would love to know what working and producing, as a woman, was like in her time. She did many groundbreaking things.
FAVORITE MOVIE QUOTE?
“It occurred to me then, that perhaps the reason for my growth was I was intended for larger things. After all, a giant man can’t have an ordinary-sized life.”
- Big Fish
TEAM CARDI B OR TEAM NICKI MINAJ?
WHAT’S YOUR BEST FEATURE?
My nails, I don’t think I’ve ever said that before, haha, but my nail girl always makes them look so good. Lately I’m loving them.
ONE FOOD YOU COULD NEVER GIVE UP?
LAST CELEB YOU TEXTED WITH?
Jonathan Van Ness, but he’s my bestie so that happens often.
MOST IMPORTANT QUALITY TO YOU IN A GUY?
Honesty and a good sense of humor are essential qualities.
Just breathe and enjoy the ride.