“I was so excited to find out the image was released unretouched,” Bidot tells PEOPLE exclusively. “I am pretty unapologetic about my body.”
Bidot, 30, posed in a bikini from Lane Bryant’s Cacique line for their #ThisBody campaign. “I was allowed freedom within this campaign to be myself, and to show the world that they can be imperfectly perfect too,” she says.
“Finally, women can pick up a Sports Illustrated and see a diverse range of women,” says Bidot. “But still, so many times those images are ‘perfected.’ So to be in the pages completely unretouched makes me proud of how far we have come.”
“I hope not only women, but everyone, will realize it’s okay to be yourself and love your body just the way it is,” she says. “We are perfect just the way we are.”
RELATED VIDEO: Hunter McGrady in the 2017 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue
Bidot expressed pride in her role in the self-acceptance movement on Instagram last week.
“It’s amazing to be a part of the change that’s helping women see once and for all that nobody is perfect,” she wrote. We can still be beautiful in spite of our imperfections. It’s time we celebrate each other and learn to love the skin we are in.”