At 35, Denise Bidot is in the prime of her life. The gorgeous model, one of the most successful worldwide and a true pioneer in the fight for inclusion of curvy women in high-end fashion, is having a remarkable year. She has not only just launched a collection of clothes she designed for Kohl’s, she is also beginning a new chapter in her life moving to the big apple after her breakup with famous rapper Lil Wayne.
Bidot, of Puerto Rican descent, opens her heart like never before in a tender, intelligent and passionate exclusive interview with HOLA! USA. Sweet and clever, her honesty brought us to tears in this limitless heartfelt interview. You simply can’t miss it!
“I want Latinas to know that there are no limits to pursue their dreams and accomplish whatever they want.”
My grandmother is very intelligent and my aunt is a doctor! I think my self-confidence has to do with my mother. I saw her struggle with weight, identity and body. For me she was the perfect example of what I didn’t want to be. I wanted to stop the conversation of “I am not enough.” I wanted that trauma to end with me. For any child, our mother is the most beautiful thing in the world, no matter what. I understood since I was little that your value is not measured by your size. Also, there are many stigmas that fall on people who are overweight. It is often said that a fuller person is less healthy and even that is not necessarily true.
“I understood since I was little that your value is not measured by your size.”
My faith in God comes from my grandparents and I always go with the flow. I truly think this was my destiny: I was in the right place at the right time. At 18, I moved to California because I wanted to be an actress. The opportunities weren’t there so I decided to become a makeup artist. I was invited to do makeup on a plus-size model. In that shoot the photographer asked me if I hadn’t thought about being a model, but I laughed, “No way! I’m short and chubby.” I had only seen tall and skinny models. It would never have occurred to me. She called me for about a month to convince me and I thought, “I’ve got nothing to lose.” I could always do my own makeup! So we did it and the photographer shared the images. Suddenly, a lot of people contacted her to ask who I was. I started doing some editorials here and there and the rest is history! That was in 2006 and we are now in 2022. When I arrived in California then, I had no idea what my life was going to be like, but this woman saw something in me that I had never seen and I decided to take the opportunity since acting was not working out. I went through that door with confidence and faith and p’adelante…
“Sometimes I think my life is a movie. I feel like I have had seven lives, like cats.”
The older I get, the more I realize how something like this affects you. It seems silly but, as a child, I was never able to celebrate Father’s Day. These are little things you don’t want to think about. When they invite me to weddings and the bride dances with her father, I can’t stop crying. You feel it; the emptiness is there, especially not having that role model. I never understood what a man’s love was like and maybe that’s why I was single for so long. I didn’t think I needed it, that I wanted it… I was 17 years old when my mother had a boyfriend for the first time, she never brought anyone home.
“These last couple years in L.A. have been of tremendous personal growth and transformation for me.”
I have no resentment towards my mom for that, she did the best she could. She fell in love and got pregnant. He was a classmate from her English course at the university, an Arab man, tall, very handsome. When she told him she was pregnant, he warned her: either she had an abortion or had to go live with him in his country upon his return after school. My mom thought that she would not survive in that culture. In any case, he soon disappeared.
Yes, ten years ago and we didn’t find him. Maybe it wasn’t the right time. I often wonder if he is alive or not, if I have brothers or sisters who may look like me. I don’t know… Now I’m a little afraid of what I might find, maybe I‘ll try again in the future... Step by step.
“Today I feel like a much more complete woman: I learned to love, not only another person as a couple, but the world, life, to value time, my heart has opened.”
Sometimes I think my life is a movie. I feel like I have had seven lives, like cats. For example, some people don’t know this, but when I was fifteen, I met Lindsay Lohan. We became friends and I ended up being her chaperone. I started traveling with her everywhere, from set to set, Los Angeles, Canada, awards, red carpets ... At the time, my mom begged me to go back to high school, because I was homeschooling with Lindsay. I’m glad my mother forced me to come back, because who knows how it would have ended ... I also understood that I could not continue in the bubble, I wanted to experience high school, have a sweetheart, go to my prom ... I did not want to miss my adolescence living someone else’s life.
I met him at a music showcase and from the moment I saw him, we fell in love. I was 19 and we lived together for a couple of years. At 21 I had my daughter, even though my pregnancy wasn’t planned, she was totally loved, and shortly after she was born, we separated.
Not as present as I would have liked, but finally now that my daughter is thirteen, she does spend some weekends with her dad. I often told him, “You are missing the best years of her life.” Now we are finally working through it.
I have worked nonstop since 2006. Besides my daughter, there was nothing more important than my work. Then the pandemic came, the world stopped and that forced me to do the same. That’s when he came along. If it weren’t for the pandemic, I’m certain we wouldn’t have met. The other day a friend said to me jokingly, “The world had to stop for you to fall in love!” Hahaha!
“I thought that love was not something for me. I always felt that we were, my daughter and I, alone against the world.”
When I arrived in California, I was an independent woman and a little selfish. I had been single for more than ten years and everything I did was for myself and my daughter. To be honest, no one else seemed that important to me. I lived in a bubble and the rest of the world didn’t exist, I never noticed anything that happened around me. In these past two years I’ve realized that I’m worth much more in the real world. I learned to cook and to do basic things, I was concerned with what was going on in the world, people mattered to me, I would worry about other things besides my career.
Now I feel like a much more versatile woman. I learned to love, not just romantically but to love life, the world… I learned to value time; my heart opened up. My heart had been closed for such a long time, I’d go from one job to the other, from one plane to another… If I wanted to go out, I’d do it without having to check with anyone first. But I’ve realized that was not that person. After everything I’ve been through, I’ve learned to value my family and friends so much more. I definitely feel whole, a new woman.
One of the most important things I learned in this relationship is that I enjoy being with someone, I really liked being in love. I’d spent my daughter’s entire life without being in a relationship. Thirteen years! I’d been single her whole life. Now I understand that I’d love to fall in love again, be everything for someone and have that someone be everything for me. Little by little… I have to go step by step now: first my daughter, then my career and finally to keep growing. All of that is what’s most important once again. I’d love to focus first on being happy again, one doesn’t need a romantic partner for this, I’m certain of that.
“A friend said to me jokingly, the world had to stop for you to fall in love!”
I don’t have any preferences regarding looks. I’d love for him to be a hard worker, there’s nothing sexier that a person that has goals and fights to achieve his/her dreams. As for his personality, I’d like a happy man, happiness is contagious, a person that can look at life a certain way, someone that doesn’t take himself too seriously, someone who loves life… To laugh, joke around, someone who likes traveling, who likes food, going to the movies… And most importantly, a family man. For me family is all. I want to end up with a man who loves and enjoys life. Of course, I’d like for him to be spiritual, prayer is very important for me, I’ve carried this with me since I was very young.
When I’m going through difficult moments in my life, I thank God that I have always had my daughter by my side. She comes and gives me a hug, or watches a movie with me or maybe we dance around the house… It’s those little things that distract the mind from sadness. Those moments are the ones that count the most in the bigger picture.
“I’m happy, nervous and proud to say I’m starting over in 2022. I’m returning to New York with my daughter and single. And Blonde!”
It’s a magical city, it hasn’t lost its charm after all these years. Every time I set foot there I feel like I’m in a movie. New York has always opened its doors to me, it accepted me ten years ago and took me to professional levels I could have never dreamed of. To think that I will return now with this new way of seeing and feeling things, I’m curious to see what happens now that I return with all this experience. The girl that arrived in the big apple when she was 25 and the woman that is now 35, are two completely different people. I’m ready to arrive and look for the things I always knew I wanted and needed.
“When I’m going through difficult moments in my life, I thank God that I have always had my daughter by my side. She comes and gives me a hug, or watches a movie with me or maybe we dance around the house…”
To model, to act, to make movies, to produce shows… Everything! Nothing is impossible. Experience has taught me that there is a world out there full of wonderful possibilities, you just have to go out and take them…! So I’m going back to New York to grab them! -she adds laughing.
I will always cherish the fact that he helped me grow immensely as a human being. For this I will be eternally grateful. As well as the affection he showed my daughter, I will forever be thankful for that.
“The girl that arrived in the big apple when she was 25 and the woman that is now 35, are two completely different people. I’m ready to arrive and look for the things I always knew I wanted and needed.”
Definitely. My mother never married and I am looking forward to it. I want to marry in a white dress … And please nobody stops me! (laughs). I´m very obsessive with organization, so planning it will be difficult, but I assure you that the food will be good, the music will be incredible, the flowers will be wonderful and the atmosphere will be spectacular. When and with whom? I don´t know that yet!
I thought that love was not something for me, I always felt that we were, my daughter and I, alone against the world, but your path takes you where you need to go. And I swear to you that I was very fixed on what I wanted to do the last couple years before the pandemic hit and nothing that happened after was part of my plan at all. So, who knows what destiny will bring...? I plan to keep flowing.
“The world of fashion is full of diversity and yes, I love knowing that I was one of the pioneers in changing stereotypes.”
I want her to know who she is, that she knows and values herself, that she knows how much she is worth. Believe me, she already learned that. My daughter is an angel and the angel of anyone who knows her. I don’t have to worry about her one bit. We have always been together, she has seen a lot, the good, the bad ... She is very mature and incredibly intelligent. I cannot imagine where she will eventually go. She is super calm, very smart, she has everything! I asked her if she wanted me to open a Tiktok account. Do you know what she answered? “No mommy, I want to enjoy being a girl and working on myself first.” And me, excuse me? She has been learning a little about everything, acting, music, etc. She is about to turn 14 years old. I’m very intrigued to know what she wants to do in high school and with her life in general so I can support her in every way possible.
She sent me to spend time with my family in Puerto Rico every summer and I enjoyed our family like crazy, the accent, the food ... Now you put me in Puerto Rico, and that boricua is out! Although I sometimes fought with my mother not to go, now I remember it as the best thing in the world.
‘You lose hundred percent of the opportunities you never take’. It was a cheesy poster that was in the school, but I never forgot it. That stayed with me for life. Something else stayed with me forever too. I had a counselor in middle school in Miami, Mr. Pereira. One day I was walking in the pure nonsense typical of that age, he looked at me and told me to follow him. He sat me in his office and asked me: “What is your favorite car?” I did not know anything about cars and brands, but I told him one that sounded very expensive to me: “Lexus”, I replied, because I knew it was luxury. Then he exclaimed, “And why are you acting like a Ford?” Then he added: “If you want to be a Lexus, start acting like one.” I was so shocked ... I thought: “Of course I´m a fine car! What the heck am I doing?”. That’s when I knew I deserved more, I was a fckg- Lexus.
The world of fashion is full of diversity and yes, I love knowing that I was one of the pioneers in changing stereotypes. Before, models were white or black, tall and skinny; now there is a place for all sizes and for all colors, now there is a place for everybody in fashion. It is an industry that adapted to the times and changed from the inside out. When they asked me to open the runway in New York, my jaw dropped, that had never happened before in history, that someone with my clothing size was invited to do something like that. Do you know how we all sometimes think, I want to change the world!? At that moment, I thought: “Wow, shit, I think I did it!”
It is crazy! Me, the daughter of a single mom, without a dollar in my pocket, to look back and think about how my life has evolved… Best of all, without changing anything about myself to feel accepted and just for being true to who I am.”
It is crazy! Me, the daughter of a single mom, without a dollar in my pocket, to look back and think about how my life has evolved… Best of all, without changing anything about myself to feel accepted and just for being true to who I am. Even when I had my daughter, I said to myself: I´m not going to be that cliché of the Latin woman who has a child and her dreams are over. I’m going to chase them and wherever I go, I will bring my daughter with me. I’m going to live my dream, so that one day my daughter can live hers. I have a lot of strength inside and I’m not going to lie to you: of course, there were nights when I thought, how am I going to get out of this one? What can I do now? But here we are. Many times, God has given me signs that he is present in my life.
I have lived many unrepeatable moments thanks to following my heart. I fondly remember one time I was invited to a runway in Copenhagen and I took my family and we were all there one night watching the Northern Lights… Highs and lows, but every moment has been worth it. I want Latina women to know that there are no limits to pursue your dreams and achieve what you want to achieve. I have traveled the world with my work. There are days when I pinch my arm and wonder: “Denise, is all this really happening?” To think that my clothing collection is now available in a store of the magnitude of Kohl’s for Latinos in the United States, where Jennifer López, someone I admire a lot, previously had her collection… I never thought that something like this could happen! It’s incredible!
Photos: Nunu @nunupictures
Stylist: Poshenko @posshenko
Makeup: Paul Anthony @paulanthonylove
Hair: Kelly Carbajal @Kellythehairslayer
Ring: @miluk @androhmeda
Black coat: @sita1910
Necklace & ring: @mahrukhakuly
White fur: @nowprla