"There is no wrong way to be a woman."
Denise spoke to us about her dreams, inspirations, and the power of women supporting each other an exclusive interview below.
What does it feel like to be a trailblazer in representation in the fashion industry?
I started modeling eight years ago, and when I began it was a very different industry than it is now. Back in the day, there wasn’t much room for trendy, plus-sized, Hispanic models. It was nonexistent. I remember when I was just starting out and they would only shoot me in muumuus and old lady clothes. I did not start out being a trailblazer but I guess it’s just from hard work and just really getting in touch with people who see that representation is necessary. It’s been awesome to be in the forefront of this change that's happening right now.
How was your experience working with photographer Christine Hahn and the Chromat Team?
It’s so funny because I worked with Christine Hahn many years ago at Forever 21; we actually did a photo shoot together. When I moved to New York, it was around the same time she had moved and it’s funny how when you get along with people, people want to work with you. I always admired Christine's talent and I always wanted to continue to work with her. When I moved to New York she introduced me to [Chromat Founder] Becca [McCharen] when Chromat was working on their SS15 collection. I think we just instantly clicked because we met on the same wavelength. Seeing their vision and them seeing yours. Becca is a genius, so collaborating with her wasn’t a hard thing to decide at all.
I’m not only a model, but I’m a consumer too, so I’m excited when things are changing and we get cool options for clothing. What Chromat is bringing to the table is just something that’s so different and something that people have anxiously been waiting for. Opening the Chromat show will forever be one of my favorite moments in my career.
It’s so important to work with people that inspire you and you inspire them. I feel really blessed in my career because I encounter those individuals who keep find ways to work and challenge each other mutually.
Opening & Closing the Chromat SS15 Formula 15 Runway Show
What item of clothing makes you feel powerful?
What are some of your favorite lingerie pieces?
I love a waist cincher. I love sexy lace and to be completely honest I am absolutely obsessed with Chromat. Everything about the long line bustiers or even the swimwear that you can wear as a body suit.
I don't think that people really understand that you can wear Chromat on a day to day basis! I saw a bunch of lingerie on the Chromat instagram that I loved. Bustier with a sheer top on top. I’m constantly trying to find ways to wear that.
What's your favorite Chromat piece?
JLO was very influential to you as a role model when you were younger, and now you're on 'Curvy Girls' on her network NUVOtv! Both you and JLO have very similar goals for Latina empowerment, are there any other women you'd want to join forces with?
In your interview with IGIGI, you mentioned that you're writing a children's book, can you give us some details?
I can’t really because we’re still working out the details but I just want to do something that inspires the younger generation. I feel great that I empower women my age to feel confident and beautiful in their skin but it's important to start working from the ground up with kids. I don't want future generations to grow up having problems with their self-image or feeling imperfect. I’m a mother and I have a daughter. For me, it’s really important for her to know she’s perfect and that her curly hair is perfect. I’m lucky to be in a position where I'm able to teach her things like self-love and acceptance.
Backstage at Chromat AW15 MINDFILES
What other creative ventures besides modeling and TV are you working on or want to explore?
Well I’ve been out in LA for a few weeks and I’m trying to get the ball rolling on some acting projects. I think the next chapter in my career would to be in a film or a TV series. I feel like the opportunities are endless right now. It’s really a day and age where you can create your own content. I love that. I have a wonderful following of loyal people that have followed me from when I did HBO Latino 'Habla Women' [and then] I did a web series for Yahoo. Little by little, I’ve come full-circle back into acting, and that’s where I started, so I look forward to keeping the doors open and see what happens.
Whats your ultimate dream project?
I feel like there’s a lot of things, you’re talking to a dreamer! I want to be the first plus-sized Bond girl! I'd also love to do Dancing With the Stars. I'm going to keep working for it!
Who are some important women in your life right now? What about them inspires you?
Denise at the Chromat AW15 MINDFILES Runway Show
How has self-love translated into the way you navigate motherhood and raising your daughter?
I started modeling just a few years before she was born and modeled all the way through my pregnancy. A month later, I was back out there working. I feel like once I had her, it gave me more motivation and more reason and drive to really go for this on a different level than I had before. Before, it was like playing dress-up, but now its so much bigger both of us: it's changing the generation she's growing up with so she doesn’t have to deal with bullying or any of that. I take her to shoots with me, she travels with me and I take her to my agencies to meet the teams I work with and other models. I’ve tried really hard to make sure she’s aware how much work goes into the hair and makeup–that it’s a production. That's a concept that most people aren't exposed to from an early age. She totally understands what's going on because sometimes I'll come home and she'll say to me,
“Mommy you don’t need those lashes, you’re beautiful the way you are.” I’m like “Holy crap! You’re six years old and you understand that already.” Everything else, the hair curling and extensions, none of that matters.
What's beautiful is when you strip all of the makeup and extensions down, you're just you. Like when we're just eating dinner and playing games together, that's when I feel the most beautiful. I feel my most beautiful when she's just laying on my arm and I love that I’m able to show her that so early.
From moving from Miami to pursue acting in LA, to being a makeup artist, to being a model. I'm sure each transition wasn't easy. What's the biggest lesson you learned through all of the stages of discovering what you were meant to do?
It’s funny because when I started, when I moved to LA for acting, I heard a lot of "If you lost fifteen pounds, you’d be perfect.” But I wasn’t looking to compromise who I was, so I went into makeup because I loved art. When you’re just open to things and you’re positive about your outlook and work hard and treat people with respect, great things just sort of happen. I didn’t set out to do this and once I was able to be in this position, of course I took it and I ran with it. I've always been trying to share my story and my message.
I figure as long as you keep a positive outlook there won’t be anything that will break you down. You just have to be very sure of who you are and keep pushing for those dreams. If you are given a dream it’s because you are able to achieve it.
A lot of people have thought “Oh you dream really big” because I walked in New York Fashion Week in front of Anna Wintour. Those weren’t even goals I thought were attainable, so now I’m like okay, there’s nothing I can’t do! If I can dream it, I can do it. Other people need to understand it’s a matter of hard work, persistence, and patience.
You seem like you've become the role model you needed when you were younger. If you could give your 18-year-old self who just moved to LA some words of wisdom, what would they be?
I’d tell myself it’s all going to be alright and not take everything in life so seriously, because everything will work out. I also think I’d tell myself to stop thinking I'm so awkward, because we treat ourselves harder than anyone else. I remember, I would be so crucial and harsh on decisions I made that don't really even matter now. As you get older you realize you just are, and you just have to live. You don't want to waste today thinking about tomorrow, just live today as it is.
Denise in the Extended Bustier Curve shot by Christine Hahn
See more of Denise Bidot's work here.