When Denise Bidot’s seven-inch platforms first hit the runway as she led the Chromat’s batallaion of megababes, it was way back when curvier body types were still mythical creatures unknown to the fashion world, (for the most part.) Tonight she does it again, in her fourth Chromat runway show.
That moment exploded, and it continues to explode. Chromat is still scoring all the YASes for showing women what they ache to see — high-concept threads on power walking curvier women. And it would be a LIE to say that much of the highly spreadable imagery was not on the scorching hot back of Denise Bidot, among other gloriously hot women of different backgrounds. Bidot, who models for Muse is determined to be everyone’s optimistic homegirl, and as a spokesperson, she beams rays of body love without the cliches.
Bidot makes it unmistakably clear that she’s about all women, not just the ones who wear a slightly roomier body cage. She’s a focused ally who is dead serious about her role as hype girl for self-acceptance, but who still manages to not take herself too seriously. Bidot nails the ferociously unrepentant ‘I’m human,’ reveal in a way that disrupts the thirst traps on Instagram. Here she is intentionally dancing to Destiny’s Child in her bloomers, and there she is telling everyone she just whitened her teeth, and then again, absolutely crushing you with her unretouchable stare.
She’s walking in a few shows this season, you know, like a gal with a few dance offers at the hoedown, but she still made the time for us to catch up with her about why she gets butterflies even though it’s her fourth Chromat show, the slim models who are right there backstage telling her she’s bae, and how her followers actually help her on her rough days.
You’re walking in Chromat again this season. You guys are like married at this point.
Yeah, when you think of New York Fashion Week, Chromat is so innovative with the tech and fashion that she brings to the table. To be a part of her [Becca Mccharen’s] vision…I still can’t believe it. We’re on the fourth season, and I can’t believe that I get to be a part of this inclusive runway show.
And you rep the brand well.
I’m officially a Chromat babe. I wear that title with honor. I was sneaking Chromat into my outfit at this thing today. You realize she’s more than just a label, or just a brand. She’s fighting for inclusivity. It’s women helping women, and you have the witches of Bushwick who back them as well. It’s like a football team where everyone’s rooting for each other and working together.
The Chromat shows have had quite a ripple effect, just by the sheer fact that it’s still just so rare to see body diversity on this stage, when you look at the numbers.
It’s been a really powerful change in fashion to see it all stemming from this woman who was bold enough to say, ‘this is what I think it beautiful and I’m not scared to put it on a catwalk.’
It’s like Chromat has become the go-to face of progress, and you’re a part of that.
They’re definitely in the forefront. I would have been proud of anyone walking that runway. But it was so breathtaking to be backstage and to open it, such a milestone, epic feeling.
Today’s not even over, so it’s just a snapshot, but quick diversity report from your vantage point?
I think it’s moving forward. Two shows I saw today had diversity, not sizes just yet, ethnic diversity. It’s sprinkling little by little. It takes some time for an industry that has been one way. This is something totally different, and I absolutely see change.
You’re more patient than most.
I am very patient [laughs.] I’m a mother of a seven-year-old. I love the fact that my generation is part of that change because that’s where I want my daughter to grow up.
Who did you relate to as a kid?
Well I remember when Jennifer Lopez…I was 12 years old…I remember literally jamming to On the Six, and saying ‘she’s curvy and she’s beautiful and not scared of her body.’ Over the course of the last fifteen years, you’ve had Sofia Vergara, Beyoncé, Kate Winslet who were all confident, and the size didn’t matter.
You do these videos that are dripping with self-love and radiating positive energy, what makes you do that?
You know it’s funny; my social media is pretty organic. I’m open with my audience in moments when I’m embodying myself. In the course of fashion over ten years, I’ve discovered that I’m fond of myself, and that I have different levels of confidence. It’s kind of just me being unapologetic about myself so that I can show it to anyone.
How do you feel toward all these young women who you don’t know, but feel like they know you?
I always tell the girls who reach out that – they say, ‘I know you might never see this I see this,’ and I say, I’m human I handle my own social media. It helps inspire me. It’s funny I’m inspiring them, but it helps inspire me to keep pushing and getting it. It’s about women finding themselves. When I was young, there was a lack of diversity. There weren’t any women like me in the media and in the landscape of fashion. So to be able to communicate with them hands on, with all the women who follow me on social, is great because they can actually have the words of encouragement when I’ve had a rough day.
Ever wish someone would ask you about something other than size?
[Laughing] I’m up for any question. I’m pretty much an open book, but I think the conversation about size diversity should be encouraged so I’m not offended.
What’s missing in terms of clothes that you wish you could see?
I think there have been very fashion forward designers for plus. When I started ten years ago, I’d say, ‘oh man this stuff is for older ladies.’ But in five years, it’s changed a lot.
Is there sisterhood among models of all sizes?
Oh, yes. If anything, I’m more encouraged working alongside smaller models or straight-size models. You’d be surprised. They say, ‘oh my god, you’re so beautiful, your curves are gorgeous.’ These are women, who, some of them predisposed to be 5’11” and a size 2 and they eat whatever they want. In fashion, it’s about how women no longer have to fit a specific mold, that’s the beauty within that. We’re women. We change. One month, I’m five pounds heavier and the next month, I’m five pounds lighter. Part of that is my time of the month and being a lady and being happy. I’m close to 30 years old and so that shows in the body. You just have to accept where you’re at, regardless being who you are as a person.
How’d you come up with your phrase — ‘no wrong way to be a woman’?
It’s so funny because I was doing an interview, and the client pointed it out to me so it stuck, and it immediately became a hashtag. It’s saying, ‘oh just be curvy,’ ‘just be skinny,’ and let a woman be free and find her body. It’s learning to accept and own your flaws, if you have a little cellulite, or more of an apple bottom, whatever it is, it’s being confident. Nobody is looking at your body. People are looking at the confidence you walk with and how you portray yourself, and how you treat people.
And people can say that until they’re blue in the face, but it’s the ferocious pictures that stick. I remember talking to you after the first Chromat show, and that picture of you opening the show is still making waves.
I still do see that picture floating around. People were just ready for it. It came at a time when people were screaming for diversity and here came Becca with multiple people in that runway show. She stood so proudly, and said ‘this is the girl I want to open my show, and I don’t care what you think of her.’ We showed them, that there’s nothing wrong with us. We didn’t realize it was going to huge statement. It was organic. It wasn’t gimmick.
Can you talk about fittings at Chromat?
Originally, it was just supposed to be the curve line, but then she based the whole line based off of my body. It was such an interesting design to be fit to my body. With the cage pants, I was like, ‘how am I going to wear these cage pants with seven inch shoes.’ But they showcase the best parts of you and force you to be sexy.
How is this season’s look?
Oh my god. I feel so excited. Just this past season, I got to check out the outfit I’m wearing tomorrow. It was insane. The way she does it is so up to par with the highest end designers. I hope to continue to walk her runways.
What kind of notes do you get about how to personify the brand?
Well she’s very much about being a Chromat babe and being powerful, being fearless. So that’s what you see. She wants you with power, a fast pace, to know who you are and allow yourself to be that…it’s the coolest.
Nerves any better for the fourth time around?
It doesn’t get any better. I promise you that. This is the closest we get to being rock stars. Well for us, runway shows, you have those butterflies. If you stop having butterflies, then maybe you should try something else. And every season, there’s a new concept.
Even when you’re walking you must sense a different kind of surge in energy when you walk out.
It’s insane. You feel the support. People can be completely quiet and you can still feel that power. I had the entire industry on my back because for an entire industry, the first moment I step out, I know what I’m carrying with me. I’m doing this for every woman who was told she wasn’t going to be represented. So I’m going to be gladly proving everyone wrong.
Some studies have actually found that Photoshop-free pictures can have the opposite effect on self-esteem than we expect. But I’m sure that based on the response to your SwimsuitsforAll campaign that showed cellulite in a sexy way, you could dispute that.
That campaign went viral. I felt so real to shoot with nothing to hide. For so long, we’ve seen models and put them on a pedestal of perfection and retouched them. Even now, I see myself retouched, and it looks really good. But we are all real, and we have imperfections so to showcase that and not feel any less than…it’s why I get so many messages, and I say, oh well, that worked. I don’t do them for the likes. I do it because finally this is what women need to see – and women will do that. It’s a mirror effect.
You say ‘we’ a lot. Where do you get this sense of solidarity?
From women as a whole supporting each other to be successful. It’s powerful, and it’s a foreign concept, that we can all have our place and still root for each other. That’s the important part of it.
What would you still like to do?
There’s so much room to grow. I’d like us to do beauty campaigns and hair ads. I’ve made some rebellious hair choices. My hair’s been blondish, with bangs and short and long. I’d like women to see that you can be weird and edgy and cool, and still be sexy and be accepted.
What parts of your personality lend themselves to activism?
I mean I’m an only child so I’m used to sitting alone and standing my ground and being goofy and sincere, and I like to think that’s what’s gotten me here. They know what they’re going to get, and that’s really cool. If I walk with confidence, then I get to help women do that too.