Bidot, 31, says she learned to love her body after watching her mother struggle to accept her size.
“As a child, I watched her go on diet after diet, struggling with standards that, as a Latina woman, were totally unrealistic,” Bidot writes in an essay for Refinery29. “Seeing my mother struggle with her weight confused me: I looked at her and thought she was beautiful, she was my mom. And this woman, who I looked up to everyday, couldn’t see her own beauty?”
Bidot realized she didn’t want to go through that same battle.
“I watched her become so fixated and stuck on being a certain jean size, on being thin and not too curvy, that she was always waiting to be skinny, waiting to fit into that dress, waiting to be happy. And that’s what really struck me: I didn’t want to wait,” she says.
As she grew up, Bidot knew she wanted to go into a creative field, and tried acting first. But directors and casting agents were always telling her to lose weight, so she decided to become a makeup artist. On a shoot one day, a photographer asked her to model.
“I kept thinking, ‘I’m too short; I’m too curvy,’ but I ended up agreeing to the project, and the rest is history,” she says. “It only took one voice, one woman, to change my path. And the more I shine, the more I can help others shine too.”
Bidot, who has since posed for Target, Swimsuits for All, Lane Bryant and more, is now working on instilling that body confidence in her daughter.
“Nowhere have I felt so much awesome responsibility than when teaching my daughter that there is no wrong way to be herself — to be a young woman, whatever her size,” she says. “I know how early these ideas are instilled in each new generation, and it’s my job to be that voice; to tell her that she is beautiful and that she can achieve whatever she sets her mind to.”
And her mother “has finally embraced her beautiful body, too,” Bidot says.
“While I definitely think my career and my successes have played a part in that, I’m even happier to think this change has come because people all over the world are finally speaking up about body positivity.”