Pamela Chan
June 08, 2015 3:45 pm

Up until several days ago, you would never find Vera Tieno in anything but jeans and a t-shirt. Today, this high school grad is dazzling the world with a bunch of cute new threads (and bags and bags more at home!). She’s also got a red carpet appearance under her belt, incredible memories from senior prom, $5000 in scholarship money, and a whole new outlook to life. Someone had herself quite a few days and it’s, in part, thanks to the ever-awesome Denise Bidot—you know, the groundbreaking plus-size model who’s taking the fashion world by storm and building up major body-confidence in girls everywhere.

Yes, one 17-year-old had hands down the best week ever. But more importantly, she’s finally able to proudly rock all she’s got, to recognize the true value of her oh so beautiful body, and have this important mantra playing on repeat inside her head:

“[Denise taught me] you can rock anything you want you just need to be happy feel good in what you’re wearing not for anybody,” Tieno told Styleite. Now that’s some brilliant advice to take off with her to college.

Before accepting a much-deserved $5,000 arts scholarship at the Gordon Parks Foundation Gala last week, Tieno got to spend some quality time learning how to embrace her body and sense of personal style from our fave Chromat body cage-wearing Mama and runway model. Denise’s uncle, David Camacho who works at Rush Arts, had introduced the duo at a luncheon. “They were talking about this amazing young lady, and that she was a little plus-size, and very much into body positivity,” Bidot told Styleite. “They wanted to see how we could sprinkle in what I bring to the table with what she was going through in her life.”

What ensued was a $500 love-your-body shopping spree at Fashion to Figureas well as a full glam sesh with Bidot’s hair/makeup team to prepare for the swanky event, where guests like Robert DeNiro and Alicia Keys were in attendance. “It was very uplifting,” Tieno said. “I learned that I can look beautiful, and it’s not wrong to be who I am.”

Filled with gratitude and a whole new mojo, Tieno’s learning exactly how good it feels to feel good about herself. Through the years, she’s collected multiple awards for her academic pursuits, but until now, was never able to fully enjoy her moment of glory 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,” said Tieno. Well, that’s not the case anymore.

So congrats Miss Vera on your chic new wardrobe. Your much-deserved moment in the spotlight. Your newfound confidence in yourself. But most of all, congratulations on learning that you do deserve to have it all—to wear beautiful things, to continue to do brilliant things, and to show off who you are, just as you are.

“I now know it doesn’t’ matter that the fashion world has certain standards of beauty that tell you what size you are. Denise said that is changing, and it definitely is. You’re seeing beauty in different places now,” she said.  Look out world, here she comes!

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