Plus Size Latina Model Denise Bidot Says Curvy Women Are Changing Fashion

denise-bidot

If there’s one thing we loathe about fashion, it’s trends. Trends are usually so dictatorial and make many of us feel inferior if we don’t have THAT item, only for the trend to be obsolete in a few months. What we DO like, however, is change. Change isn’t normally something that comes and goes with the seasons and the whims of Anna Wintour. It is something usually borne out of an intense dislike of the current climate, where many people speak and act in unison to bring said change about.

In the fashion world we have seen one major change happening over the past couple of years, and that is a more wide acceptance of diverse body types, specifically plus size women. Considering it is one of the only female dominated industries in the world, it is up to women to lead the charge on this one, and so far it is going well.

Plus size models, bloggers, activists and designers are springing up left, right and center, and the discussion online is much needed.

Unfortunately, we still live in a world where the majority of industry and corporate attitudes believe anything above a size zero and non-white is not going to sell a product. The trickle-down effect is that society looks at, say, a plus size woman of color, and automatically compares her to the so-called “perfect” image they have firmly embedded into their subconscious which is seen as the standard of beauty. Think Victoria’s Secret models.

victorias-secret-perfect-body-campaign

Thankfully due to the rise of social media and the ability for the average person to have a voice to speak up online, the industry is being pushed in a different direction, one that is driven by and more appealing to everyday consumers.

Model Denise Bidot made history this year by becoming the first plus size Latina woman to open and close a straight-sized runway show at New York Fashion Week. The Puerto Rican-Kuwaiti woman who has modeled for Kohl’s, Macy’s, Target, Levi’s, Forever21 Plus, and more has also walked the runway at both London and Copenhagen’s Fashion Weeks. But does she dominate fashion headlines and magazines? Not yet, but if her success is anything to go by, her look may soon become the norm.

In an interview with Cosmopolitan Denise says it was a chance encounter with a photographer in Los Angeles that convinced her to become a model, even though she originally moved there to pursue acting.

“I kept hearing, “Oh, you’ve got a leading lady personality and a best friend body type,” which was really hard, because it’s like hearing, “You’re perfect, but not really.” My mom was adamant that I get an education, so I gave up on acting and went to makeup school and became a freelance make-up artist,” she says.

“I was working on a client and a photographer asked me if I had ever done modeling or if it was something I’d consider. I was looking to be inspired, and modeling was that for me — the door was open a little bit so I ran right through it!”

From her insider experience, Denise can see first hand how women like her are changing attitudes and shifting trends in a big way.

denise-bidot-NYFW

“I think the shift has been happening for quite some time now, and in the last five years, it’s sped up a lot. It’s taken some time, but you’ve got a few people who are vocal about who they are and that they are unwilling to compromise that, and people just sort of follow suit. It’s amazing to see people be vocal and demand what they want to see.”

As for also being Latina, she says it was yet another label that she had to break through, but relishes the chance to represent a previously unrepresented group in fashion.

“I do know that when I started, there weren’t very many Latina plus-size models. For a long time, with my look and my body type, I felt like there wasn’t a place for me. I’m Puerto Rican and Middle Eastern, and when I came on to the scene, people were like, What do we do with you? Where does she go? I feel like one of the few Latina girls doing it, and I’m proud of that, but I also want to be here for all women.”

“I’m glad I can be a role model in the industry, because growing up, I didn’t really have that.”

Her biggest advice when it comes to body image confidence is to understand that you are never going to please everyone, but that’s not what life is about.

“=People always think, ‘If I had this job or straighter hair or was skinnier or blonder, I’d be happy,’ but really, it’s a matter of being able to be happy with who you are. It has to come from the inside. Your uniqueness is what makes you beautiful.”

denise-bidot

Having a daughter of her own has given her an added incentive to stay on her toes about confidence in her body image.

“She totally gets that nobody’s perfect. It’s hard though. There was a point she was being bullied for her curly hair and she started losing her confidence and I had to rebuild that. I want her to see herself through someone else’s eyes and realize that she’s beautiful.”

If we look further afield in the fashion world today, we can see other examples which show a shift in the previously exclusive club fashion used to be. At the most recent London Fashion Week, clothing brand Evans made history by staging the first plus size fashion show at the event. In the UK, and even in the US, the average size of women is 14-16, yet in the fashion world that is considered plus size.

Honestly it is as if the fashion world has been stumbling in the dark for decades and are finally waking up to the fact that having diverse women on the catwalk and in advertising campaigns is the right thing to do. Not only that, but they are demanding applause for it also! Ha! Well, listen, we’re here to promote positivity, so in the spirit of wanting to inspire and empower our readers, we’ll give it to ’em.

Evans is also the brand that pioneered the first ever Plus Size Fashion Week and they are now taking their mission to the next level. One of the most common arguments we have heard is that designers don’t want to make plus size samples because plus size mannequins don’t exist.

Evans has launched an initiative for UK University students to learn how to design plus size clothing for their Cut for Evans range. The idea is that they want to change the way the next generation of designers view plus size fashion, and they are going straight the the foundation.

Evans-London-fashion-week

Evans Head of Design Rebecca Vann Reicher came up with the idea, and approached students from Nottingham Trent and Kingston University to design a 6-piece collection that was fashion forward and not limited by size.

The winning designers will get a cash prize, and have their creations launched in select stores across the UK and Europe.

A spokesperson for Evans, which stocks sizes 14-32, said: “We are dedicated to changing attitudes about the plus industry and our commitment to Cut for Evans highlights how we believe great fashion design can be aspirational and inclusive.”

It pushes them to create something that can be bold yet beautiful, regardless of size that empowers and delights all at once and ultimately changes attitudes about plus size and its fashion credentials,” said Rebecca about the initiative.

Popular UK online plus size publication SLiNK magazine told the Daily Mail this is both an educational experience for the students and an exciting way to breathe new life into the industry.

“Our university programs aren’t preparing designers for the plus-size market, a retail industry that is currently booming,” said editor Rivke Baum. “By inviting students to design for Evans, they are opening their eyes to designing for varying body shapes and a consumer, not just a fantasy subject.”

That statement right there about the “fantasy subject” is basically what the fashion industry claims to be selling to customers. Yet we cannot wrap our heads around how a size 16 woman can ever aspire to be like the fantasy size 0 woman she sees in very magazine. We absolutely call bullsh*t on this ideal because we are not buying it, and the voice of the people has spoken.

What Denise Bidot’s success and Evans’ new collaboration with students shows is that the consumers needs and wants are now more important that dictating what should be fashionable.

Yup, this deserves a round of applause! From the street to the runway, we say.

Evans-London-fashion-week

 

One Comment

Leave a Reply