Sometimes we surprise ourselves. We awake to a life that’s beyond what we could have ever imagined.

But it’s daily decisions – grit, hard work and vision – that slowly shape us into the person we aspire to become.

I’ve learned this is a continuous journey. We grow and reinvent ourselves constantly. It’s important to enjoy the milestones along the way and to remember what inspires you.

For model Denise Bidot, her family and heritage are her main sources of inspiration. “Being a little girl from Miami recognized with the NAHJ Innovator Award was an epic moment. To see my daughter’s face as she watched me receive the award was beyond words.” 

This summer at the National Association of Hispanic Journalist’s annual conference, I had the privilege of presenting Denise with the Latina Innovator award.

Her daughter wasn’t the only one in awe. There were dozens of women in the room celebrating Denise for embracing everything that’s unique about herself and her body. Denise advises young Latinas to be part of something and to carve their own path and destiny.

Denise teaches us that happiness is not determined by the size of your jeans, but by your character, your individuality, your courage to strive for your goals day after day – even when you have to pick yourself up after falling.

 I recently reconnected with Denise and her success doesn’t surprise me. She’s becoming the person she set out to be.

As a child, Denise didn’t know much about her heritage except that she was half Middle Eastern, half Puerto Rican – and fully proud. Her summer travels to Puerto Rico immersed her in the Latino culture and helped her embrace it even more.

“I love my Latino heritage. I have always felt so passionate about being Puerto Rican,” Denise shared.

Denise is raising a proud Latina like herself by giving her daughter the same experiences she had while growing up. Summers are for visits to Abuelita in Puerto Rico. “My abuelita was my best friend and someone that inspired me. My daughter now shares the same relationship with my mom.”

Denise recalls watching “I Love Lucy” with her grandmother during her summers in Puerto Rico. “A powerful woman and a Latino man; that was memorable on so many different levels. It made me realize how powerful I was as a Latina woman.”

It is through this one-on-one time with grandma, watching Lucy and Ricky, that Denise realized she wanted to see people like her on the screen. So for the past 10 years, Denise has carved her own path in an industry were plus-size models were overlooked for decades.

“I was the inspiration for plus-size Latina models. It is the unique characteristics that make us look different that set us apart in a good way,” Denise said during fashion week last month. “Diversity is good. It’s beautiful. We’re not all supposed to look the same. We are not all cookie cutters.”

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, it is my pleasure to recognize Denise Bidot – a Latina who celebrates her Latino heritage and inspires thousands of women of all backgrounds to embrace everything that makes them unique.  Not to mention, she’s been an AT&T customer since she was 12 years old!

Let us know what you’re most passionate about and how you express passion for your culture using #ExpresaTuPasion. And follow @ATTLatino on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the upcoming blogs. 

Cinthya Allen is an area manager for external affairs based in Oklahoma City, OK.

Cinthya Allen
Cinthya Allen Area Manager for External Affairs