JUDGE AND COACH AT “NUESTRA BELLEZA LATINA” PAGEANT
Denise Bidot, renowned plus size model, will join “Nuestra Belleza Latina” (NBL), a Univision pageant that stands for “Our Latina Beauty”. Denise not only will be a judge, but she will be a coach for the participants. Adding this Puerto Rican model to this show reflects the success she has had on runways around the world. In a candid interview with CASA Magazine, she said “I am really proud to be here, representing the Latina woman with curves, modern. I want to show that what matters is the woman, not her size.”
As a judge and a mentor
Denise Bidot was born and raised in Miami, Florida. Her paternal family is from Kuwait, and her mom’s side is from Puerto Rico. She spent some of her childhood on the island, and later moved to Los Angeles, and then New York, where she currently lives. She has a successful career as a plus size model and she now takes on the role of judge and mentor for the girls at Nuestra Belleza Latina.
What do you expect from being a judge at NBL?
Denise Bidot: The best part of having me at the coming season of NBL is to give women hope and let the girls who are watching the show know that their size doesn’t determine their success. This 11th edition of the pageant will beautifully capture what it is to be Latina, a fighter, like the woman that is 50 years old and continues to fight for her goals, regardless of her age. I want to tell all the big women that there is hope. That is the best goal.
Besides being a judge, you will be a mentor for the participants. What is your role as director of the academia at Neustra Belleza Latina?
DB: To me that is the coolest part of this opportunity. One thing is to be part of the judges and another thing is to help the girls achieve their goals. I will have their back. I am sharing my experiences with them. I have many horror stories of things that have happened to me. I am excited to change how things are so that someone else doesn’t have to go through the same things I went through. We will work the physical and the emotional. A wholesome preparation is needed to succeed in this difficult career.
She is not new to the beauty and fashion world. She had a short career as a makeup artist for runway models. That is when she was discovered and became a star. However, she always had the goal to be in showbusiness, since she was a young girl. That is why she studied acting, singing and dance. Many doors were closed to her, but she persisted until she got what she wanted.
How did you start in the world of entertainment?
DB: I started at a young age. The life of T.V. and movies is what I always dreamt about when I was a little girl. When I turned 12, I started to prepare myself. I studied acting, modeling, and singing. I tried everything. Unfortunately, when I moved to California at the age of 18, all doors were closed to me. Everyone said “No”. I was told I was too big, too tall, too fat, with too much personality, and too “Latina.” I was entering the world of Hollywood.
How did you become a model?
DB: After so many doors were closed, I decided to do make up. I had talent for that. But it didn’t last long. I did make up for a plus size model and almost immediately the photographer asked me if I had thought about modeling. Twelve years ago, there was not much modeling for plus sizes, like there is now. That is why I never thought about it. I decided to take some pictures and the photographer put them on her webpage. That was the beginning of everything. I immediately got calls and job offers. I realized what a great opportunity that was.
What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome?
DB: My mother always struggled with her weight. She would lose and gain weight to stay at a specific size that she could never get to. I saw all that and learned at a young age that happiness doesn’t come with the size I wear. I saw her equally beautiful when she was big and when she was small. Her struggle gave me all the motivation I needed. Now that I am an adult, I know that I had to depart from her way of thinking, the struggle for the size, to get to work on my own goals.
Denise has modeled for plus size brands such as Chromat, Jane Brant, Serena Williams SS, Forever 21, Target, Levi’s Jeans, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Old Navy and Jane Bryant. Denise, together with Ashley Graham, are considered as the top models of plus size in the world. Currently Denise is represented by Muse Models, in the city of New York and by MILK Management in the U.K. This model has performed in all five continents.
What do you think is your biggest achievement at the moment?
DB: To me, the biggest thing was to open a show at the New York Fashion Week (NYFW). That was the motivation I needed to keep moving forward. I felt strong. Ironicaly, when I decided to move to New York, everyone told me it was a terrible idea. I was told: “Don’t go, because only the tall and skinny get to work in NY.” I trusted my instincts and I told myself: “I am going. I have to try, even if I later learn that it wasn’t possible. There is nothing worse than not trying.”
What do you remember from that first time at NYFW?
DB: When I walked that runway, I was in disbelief. Serena Williams, personally, was helping me right before I walked on the runway where I was the only plus size model. I walked in front of Anna Winter, director of Vogue. She was on the first row, applauding. It was like a movie. I told myself: “I, 5’7”, chubby, size 14, have made it. Others can do it too.” And since then, I have never missed NYFW, twice a year. And I will be there in a few days.
Denise doesn’t want to be another model. She has taken on the mission to teach women that “being yourself is what defines real beauty.” Throughout her career, she has participated in events for women empowerment, especially Latinas. Her work of bolstering women self-esteem has made her a leader and someone to look up for women of all sizes.
What is the biggest commitment you have with your followers?
DB: To me the biggest deal is to pursue my goals and share my experience with authenticity. I want them to see the success but also all the things that are not so good. I want them to understand that it is a lifelong struggle. Having a voice to motivate others is very important and I want to use it the best way possible.
What is your biggest challenge for the future?
DB: To make people understand that beauty goes beyond the appearance of the body.
Which runway would you want to walk?
DB: I have walked all the runways that feature fashion my size. Now I would love to walk for Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci. It is exciting to be a part of the fashion world. I am satisfied and the next runway I want to walk is Nuestra Belleza Latina (NBL).
Nuestra Belleza Latina: Participants of all sizes
Denise will share the responsibility of being a judge with Giselle Blondet, Jomari Goyso, and El Dasa. She explained that in this 11th edition of the pageant, there will be flexibility in regard to sizes and the age of the participants. She explained they are looking for a woman that is “happy, that knows who she is, and that will walk those runways with confidence and proud to represent her country and her Latino culture the right way. Women who are willing to give themselves an opportunity. The casting is very diverse. Curvy women and those who are considered to have the perfect size,” she said.
This model has no issues with skinny models. “I have worked with skinny models all the time. I have friends that are 6 feet tall and wear size 2. What we have to celebrate is that women come in all sizes and colors, and that is excellent. We have older women, young women, all of it.” Denisse sent a message to osmel Sousa, also known as “The Zar of Beauty,” who represents the standard of the perfect woman. The message was “I hope you like the 11th season of NBL.”
What kinds of food do you prefer?
DB: I love salads. I love kale. I am not big into sweets. I eat a balanced diet. But everyone must know their body and listen to it when eating.
Which one is your favorite Puerto Rican dish?
DB: Any of the food cooked by my grandmother. And I also love empanadillas, arroz con gandules, and Mallorca bread.
What exercise do you recommend?
DB: Move, move, move. Every opportunity you have to move, do it. Dance. Walk outdoors. I also love yoga and how it connects the body with the soul.
What music do you listen to?
DB: All music. Regaeton, R&B, rock. I pick the music according to my mood when I get up in the morning.
Who do you admire?
DB: I admire my mother and grandmother, who supported me in my youth. As far as career, I admire Jessica Alba and Jennifer López.
#NotSorry for her body
Denise’s marketing campaigns include a message to lift women’s self-esteem. She defies stereotypes by modeling in swimming suits. Her pictures are photoshop-free; that is why they show cellulite an imperfect skin. “I love everything about my body. I’ve learned really to just love every bit of it. It’s time to stop apologizing. I want women to feel confident and sexy by knowing that there’s nothing wrong with being yourself”, she said.