What is a greater grad gift to receive than the gift of body positivity and a bunch of money — probably nothing, right? I bet that teenager Vera Tieno would agree with you after accepting a $5,000 scholarship this week and getting a shopping spree with lots of body positive tips from Denise Bidot. ICYMI, Denise Bidot is a groundbreaking plus-size model and knows a thing or two about being in the spotlight — you know, she was the first plus-size model to walk at New York Fashion Week, after all.
Styleite reported that the model wanted to spend some time with the teen, helping her embrace her curves and sense of personal style before she accepted a huge scholarship — and they did it up in a big way.
When the duo met at a luncheon, Tieno's uncle had mentioned to Bidot that his niece was an accomplished young woman and into the idea of body positivity, but still remained self-conscious. She had racked up tons of awards and recognition for her academic pursuits, but had never accepted them on-stage. “It’s that feeling that you don’t belong, that it wasn’t for me. It’s the thinking that my body does not look like the media wants me to look, and if I don’t look like a magazine, then I thought I didn’t deserve it," Tieno said.
That changed when she accepted that 5K worth of scholarship money in front of major celebs like Pharrell and Alicia Keys. After spending the day shopping at Fashion to Figure and getting prepped for the event with a PLY dress and Bidot's glam squad, Tieno accepted that award in style. “She totally embodied everything a young lady should,” Bidot told Stylite. “She was confident and unapologetic. Really secure in who she was by the end of it.”
So what was Bidot's life-changing advice? "You can rock anything you want you just need to be happy feel good in what you’re wearing not for anybody else. Denise can say, ‘I look fabulous in this,’ so I got that sense from her.”
While she will have her new wardrobe to take off to college with her, it's encouraging that Bidot taught Tieno to feel confident and body positive even when she's not all glammed up and wearing plus-size couture. Body positivity is about more than acknowledging that plus-size women can look glam and feel good — it's about rocking what you've got and recognizing your body's value. With a brain so gifted and a heart so big, I doubt that there's much that could hold Tieno back now.
Images: denisebedot/Instagram; Fashion to Figure