Denise Bidot is an international plus-size model, a TV personality, an advocate for curvy women, the face of Danish brand, Zizzi Clothing and most importantly the mother of a six-year old girl. But the spotlight didn’t come easy to Denise, she had to go through a series of rejections and negative comments to take her to where she is today.
Currently, she is represented by top modeling agency Muse Models and has become one of the most recognizable plus-size models to date.
What made you want to become a model?
To be honest, I never imagined myself as a model. After I turned 18, I moved out to L.A. with hopes and aspirations of becoming an actress. I wanted to be that girl who made it into Hollywood and star in films. As a teenager, I had this type of “go-getter” personality, that I still have today, but was told to lose 15-20 pounds. I kept getting, “You have the leading lady personality, but the best friend body type.”
I just felt that the industry wasn’t ready for me and coming from a household where my mother struggled with her weight. I always saw her fluctuate from a size 2 to a 24 and it was really easy for me to understand that beauty for me wasn’t based off on a size. When coming to Hollywood and dealing with the issue of my weight, I didn’t feel comfortable. I didn’t want to change who I was nor was I going to compromise where I felt beautiful because of what other people thought.
So my life took a different direction and started to do makeup. I went to makeup school in California and shortly after I did makeup for a plus-size model. When I was at her photo shoot, that was when the photographer had suggested I should consider modeling. He took my pictures and it went from there. That was eight-years ago and I look back at how funny how life throws curve balls at you and you think you’re going one direction and end up going another.
As as a Latina, has their been any prejudice against your appearance?
I don’ think there has been any prejudice. When I started doing acting there wasn’t any leading roles for women with figures like myself and when I got into the modeling world there were a lot of black and white areas. I came into this grey area – I am half Puerto Rican, half Kuwaitian, not that tall, and really curvy. I feel like there was a mold for me that I began to form little by little.
You’re photographed in the kickstarter book campaign called CURVES. Why is the concern for body image important to you and why did you decide to be a part of this project that is set to release in Spring of 2015?
I’ve previosuly worked with the photographer, Victoria Janashvill, on several different projects. The book was inspired by this other photoshoot we did together the year before Victoria decided to put the book together. The previous photoshoot that we did was to show the difference between the mannequin and I. It was more of a bold statement like, “Here it is! Here’s the difference between a mannequin and a real woman.” It reached so many people that it just went viral! People reacted much more passionately than what we had anticipated. It made us want to do something along those same lines.
That’s when Victoria had asked me to do something similarly and be a part of CURVES. She knows how to photograph the woman’s body beautifully, but honestly when you strip it all down it’s about the women. It’s all about being comfortable in your own skin.
Now that you’re an established, professional model, what differences have you seen in the plus-size model world from the one that the media typically portrays?
It’s interesting that you ask that because when I was younger and first started to model, the fashion in the photos didn’t match. It wasn’t until I started with my modeling career that social media began to kick in and people were able to voice their opinions about what they liked and didn’t like. Through this, the market began to notice there were more curvier women and companies began to create this place for curvy girls that wasn’t thought of before.
What’s changed to me is the brand and the clothing. I’ve seen the industry progress as far as all the way to high fashion when targeting the plus-size consumer. I work for Target and they completely rebranded they’re plus-size division because for the most part curvy women were boxed into the maternity section when shopping. It began to become a concern. It was like we were the stepchild. It was about time that women spoke up, which is exactly what we are doing.
I cannot wait till Versace or Dolce & Gabbana creates a look for me that’s straight off the runway. However, I feel that we are in a totally different place than where we were 6 to 8 years ago, but there is still so much more to do.
Where did you begin to see the shift?
I’m not exactly sure where, but I will say about three years ago. Maybe I was in the forefront of those girls pushing for such look, but what people don’t realize is the plus-size look has been around for a really long time. Now is when it’s beginning to shine.
As a mom, any advice to young girls and women who get beauty inspiration through the media?
I think it’s really about staying true to who you are and everyone has that something that makes them beautiful. There are so many different things in the spectrum that makes a woman, a woman. For inspiration, I say, tend to yourself, tend to your culture, and tend to what makes you feel good. It’s all about confidence and that’s really where it’s at.
Something that Denise holds true to herself and advocates for is: “There is no wrong way to be a woman.”