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Dreams Do Come True.. Our Interview with Cover Model Denise Bidot

by Suzette Banzo

Once upon a time, a sweet makeup artist stood behind the scenes preparing someone for their dream job. While playing with colors and contours, a photographer working on the shoot took notice of the makeup artists’ natural beauty and approached her. Flattered, the makeup artist was taken back a bit by the suggestion that she could model, but she took a chance and accepted the offer. Though it sounds like a fairytale that seduces the little girl within most of us, this is Denise Bidot‘s reality.

Suzette: Last year Michelle Renee wrote about you for PLUS and I couldn’t help but want to learn more about you first hand.

Denise: Awe, Thank you! Michelle has become a great friend since that interview, she was so sweet.

Suzette: Let’s begin with the inevitable question, “How did you get started modeling?”

Denise: I never worked with “many plus sized models”, I never even knew about Plus Modeling until I met Robin Cricket, and agreed to do a test shoot with her and photographer Sita Mae. While at the shoot Sita approached me about modeling and after realizing there was nothing to lose, I agreed to shoot some pictures with her. The images came out amazing and soon after she posted them on the Plus Model Bulletin Board and I got contacted by Hips and Curves to model for them. Still in denial of the plus modeling world, it took almost a year before I decided to meet with Hips and Curves. Soon after, we started shooting and it never stopped after that. Thank you Sita! 🙂

Suzette: How long were you testing and modeling before going to an agency? Did you take baby steps or were they more like leaps?

Denise: Well, if it were up to me I would still be testing and doing freelance work. I started in 2006, and it wasn’t until 2009 that Lisa Marie at Brand Model and Talent contacted me for representation. I am a total perfectionist and had been building my book for years. I worked with as many people as I could, and networked as much as possible. One day everything started to happen so fast. From one month to the next, I was on the home page of four or five different clothing websites. I was in shock; I had worked so hard that I didn’t even realize my dream had finally started to come true. To this day, I still get shy when people ask me what I do for a living, because the answer is modeling, and I still can’t believe it!

Suzette: Why did you say, “Well, if it was up to me I’d still be testing and doing freelance work.” Please explain your thought process behind that statement.

Denise: I would have never had the nerve to submit myself to an agency. Modeling was “cool” to me, but I didn’t think I could make a living from it. I started doing it for the love of fashion and the craft, and never thought I would have received this kind of response. I didn’t know the magnitude of work that was available, and how serious it is. I used to do it for fun, and now it’s different, it has become my passion. I love to model and when I’m not working with clients, I’m looking for new photographers to work with. I have become obsessed with every aspect of the fashion world, and I feel honored to be a part of it.

Suzette: When models get started they usually do some work for free in order to get some exposure, how did you make the transition between doing free jobs and paid ones?

Denise: When you are new, any opportunity is a good opportunity. Doing free work should stop as soon as you are signed to an agency, otherwise, how are they supposed to get you paid if you are already known to work for free. However, I personally think that trades with good photographers are always good for your book.

Suzette: Which four companies have you worked with?

Denise: I was recently blessed enough to shoot for an editorial that will be featured in the September Issue of Glamour magazine alongside Katherine Schwarzenegger. I have also had the chance to work for Forever 21, Kohls, Torrid(which I finally recently after almost a year of working for them, made it into the actual stores, yay), Shirleys of Hollywood for their Intimate Attitudes line, Leg Avenue, Kiyonna, Hips and Curves, Sealed With a Kiss Designs, DD’s Discount, Bonny Bridal, Elegant Moments Lingerie and several costume houses, so look out for me this Halloween LOL

I also just got signed to an agency in Germany, so I am hoping to expand internationally soon (I’m keeping my fingers crossed)

Suzette: What was it like when they first contacted you to work for Hips and Curves?

Denise: Well actually, I was SUPER nervous, but I’m one of those people that will act like it’s no big deal. As soon as I put on the lingerie, it made me feel so sexy and that’s exactly what they were able to capture in the photos. The crew at Hips and Curves is so amazing! They created a “Denise” playlist for my shoots that includes Cristina Aguilera’s “Back to Basics” cd; the music plus the lingerie had me literally dancing in front of the camera in the most beautiful lingerie ever. I felt completely empowered and my confidence grew from shoot to shoot.

Suzette: What’s your beauty secret to staying ‘lingerie camera ready’?

Denise: I work out occasionally, but to me, skin is a big part of it; I constantly moisturize my skin because in southern California the weather is always changing from hot to cold.

Suzette: Is there anything a company can give you to wear that you will make you react and think, “No, I just can’t wear that!”

Denise: No way, I’m always up for anything! Each outfit is a character, and it’s so much fun when that character is nothing like you. I’m a very easy going person; I like to think I’m as far away from a diva as possible. The costumes and lingerie allow me to pretend to be someone else and I really enjoy it!

Suzette: What happens when you shoot outdoors and there is no playlist? How did you get into the right frame of mind at first and how do you do it now that you are more experienced?

Denise: At first, I needed music because I wasn’t so confident and it really helped. Now, music is not as necessary.

Suzette: I think most plus sized models do commercial work first, then transition into lingerie but it sounds like you’ve done the complete opposite.  What was that change like for you?

Denise: You’re probably right about that! When I started shooting commercial work, I had to tone it down and really study modeling because I really did not know what I was doing. Now when I shoot lingerie, I’m actually more nervous than before because I’m used to wearing clothes! To be honest,  at first when I started to do the commercial modeling it was a disaster; I didn’t know how to pose or smile and I didn’t like any of the pictures. I started to look at magazines and websites like Nordstrom for ideas. I used to just move all over the place, but I’ve learned to be more centered, move more slowly and hold my poses. I have learned through trial and error what my best angles are and all about lighting. There’s a lot that goes into a picture and I still have so much to learn. I love the endless possibilities with modeling.

Suzette: It sounds like you’ve been able to find the fluidity of your movements without needing to listen to music. Who were your muses?

Denise: I studied photos of other models like Crystal Renn and Tara Lynn to see what it was that they do that is so mesmerizing; I think I’ve found that now… I get it! Those two models have a way of making you “feel a picture”; they have an emotion that you can connect with and that’s what I’ve tried to achieve as well.

Suzette: Denise, I know this is a personal question, and if you don’t want to discuss her, I understand. I’m curious about your daughter; did you become a mother before you started to model or afterwards, or during?

Denise: No, its ok, I don’t mind answering that question. I was actually about six and a half months pregnant during the first photo shoot I ever did with Hips and Curves. I didn’t start showing until very late in my pregnancy, so we were able to work around my little princess. It’s really funny because I started to shoot again exactly one month after I had her. I was so scared and felt like I was experiencing the first shoot all over again. Women have to understand that “photoshopping” an image is a very real practice. My daughter has been right here all along, she is two years old now, and is such a little diva. She used to come to shoots when she was smaller, now she loves posing; I suppose she has been around modeling all of her little life.

Suzette: I’m sure many women who admire your curves will appreciate your statement that even your images are photoshopped.

Denise: Well, I had a picture taken wearing a bikini shortly after my daughter was born and I remember wondering how it was going to look. When I saw the image, my belly had been completely airbrushed. People have to understand it happens in the plus world too. I have since started to workout and I use that photo as motivation to get in shape.

Suzette: What kinds of campaigns are you interested in doing in the future?

Denise: I really like Monif C.; I think her clothes and bathing suits are so sexy. I’d also like to work with Lane Bryant and would love to do a hair commercial someday.

Suzette: Yes, thick girls should sell shampoo; washing your hair doesn’t make you fat!

Denise: Ha! I agree! I have always been curvy at different sizes. The smallest I’ve ever been was a size six, and I was too small and it required dieting all of the time. ?I have always been very hourglass shaped, so even at a size six I looked a very curvy. I feel most comfortable between a 12 and 14; I eat healthy foods but don’t deprive myself.

Suzette: In that case, what’s your favorite culinary indulgence?

Denise: Honestly, anything Paula Deen creates! She is my favorite chef! I also have a weakness for smores, particularly in wintertime when cooked on an open fire. Yum! Now I’m getting hungry!

Suzette: What other indulgence do you treat yourself to other than food?

Denise: Shoes and denim; I am a total jeans and a t-shirt kind of girl. I can never have enough jeans; I’m constantly looking for good fits. Forever 21’s plus line has these amazing skinny jeans for $11.50! They are awesome and every girl should own them!  I own many Torrid jeans too, and their fit is spectacular!  When I started modeling I was a size 10/12 and now I’m a 12/14 but mostly a 14 on the bottom; I can attribute that to my Puerto Rican half.

Suzette: What’s your other half?

Denise: I’m Puerto Rican and Arabic. Shakira is the celebrity who’s background is closest to my mix.

Suzette: Although Latinos celebrate curves, the Latina women on TV are usually no bigger than a size six. Have you received support from the Hispanic community or have you experienced the “you should lose a few pounds” comments?

Denise: My family is very curvy and always embraced being healthy. I do tune in, occasionally, to Spanish TV, and they do “push” that skinny and sexy is what the Latina should look like; all the women dance around in bikinis and that’s not reality. The average woman is a size 12/14 so lets show women of all sizes being beautiful and sexy. I think size acceptance is very important. I have friends that eat more than I do, but they never gain a pound.

Once we all love ourselves, love will circle back around 🙂

Follow Denise on IG @denisebidot