Denise Bidot, 32, is one of the most famous curvy models in the industry but being an Arab-Latina growing up in Miami, often felt lonely until she discovered Shakira. “Growing up, I felt like I was the only girl in the world that was Latina and Arabic. Then Shakira started talking about her roots and I was like, “Oh, there’s another person in the world like me,” she told Emperifolla.
For 12 years now, Bidot – who is Puerto Rican and Kuwaiti – has become one of the most prominent Arab Latinas through her work as a model and as a judge on Univision’s Nuestra Belleza Latina.
Now with a following of 655k on Instagram and her work strutting runways and working with brands including Nordstrom, Forever21, Target, and Old Navy — she’s become the icon that she needed to see
“I think this generation is very awesome in that all these boxes that we are meant to be put in don’t exist anymore. Back in the day, I felt a huge weight on my shoulders about my identity. I think that’s why representation matters. There are so many more of us than people realize. But we all feel so alone because we are never seen. The same goes for the Afro-Latina community. That’s why I’m so proud to be part of this generation that are pushing the boundaries and that my daughter gets to grow up in a generation that looks like this,” she told the publication.
Her daughter is Afro-Latina and Bidot is making sure she’s raising her to be proud of her multicultural roots and says her daughter is a fan of Dominican-Puerto Rican actress Zoë Saldaña and in that way she feels represented, she previously shared with HipLatina.
Bidot rose to fame in 2014 when she became the First (Latina) plus-size model to walk several runaways during New York Fashion Week but before that, she was going out for acting gigs and recalled battling stereotypes on auditions.
“As a Puerto Rican woman, I can tell you firsthand that my cousins are redheads with freckles and my abuelita has blonde hair and green eyes. We don’t look any certain way and we’ve been misrepresented for as long as I can remember … I think it’s a beautiful thing as a mother of an Afro-Latina girl to be able to finally show women that look like her in TV and in music,” she previously shared with HipLatina.
It’s through public figures like Bidot, Shakira, and Salma Hayek that Arab Latinas gain visibility in the mainstream and while there’s still a lot of work to be done when it comes to visibility for both the Arab Latinx and Afro-Latinx communities, we’ve clearly come a long way.