Barbie Ferreira Shares Her Secrets To Positive Body Image
Something exceptionally beautiful about Barbie Ferreira is her ability to forgive herself when she doesn’t feel that way. Especially in this age where beauty standards are constantly in flux. Her refreshing perspective on beauty can sound more like a therapist than a model, but don’t let all that smart talk fool you—Barbie’s the best looking girl around town. Quickly becoming known for her candid social media presence, and style that’s redefining what it means to be an “it-girl”, Barbie Ferreira is ready to change the modeling game, one selfie at a time.
How did you get into modeling?
I never thought I could model. When I first thought of it, I was about 16 and was bored so I took a few pictures and submitted them to American Apparel. I had been acting all my life, auditioning for shows, films, and commercials, so I was pretty comfortable in front of the camera. I always thought acting was more acceptable of all sizes but it turns out it’s the opposite. I was contacted by American Apparel a day later, and asked to shoot for them. My mom was definitely hyped, since she modeled back in Brazil when she was younger. It turned out to be something I did pretty well and I wasn’t pressured to change my body, so I loved that. I had no clue that plus-size modeling was a thing until pretty recently. I got signed to Wilhelmina Curve in March and have been loving it ever since.
I just read this tweet of yours: “You guys never cease to make me feel gross and kick me while I’m down” and got really sad. What’s that about? If you feel gross, then the rest of us really have no chance—
Oh my God, I can’t help laughing at this because I’m realizing how dramatic I sound. It’s just that the internet is a very weird place! I’ve learned to not pay attention to it mostly, but I’m only human. Whenever I gain 5 pounds or have a pimple, it’s the first thing people will point out. I’ve been blogging since I was 13, so I’ve always gotten some type of hate. At this point, I laugh at those kinds of comments because obviously I’m not morbidly obese, and the way they talk about weight so negatively is comical to me…I mean, people are so influenced by the media that they really believe a 38-24-45 plastic-surgery body is normal, and they can’t understand why a body would possibly have cellulite or bumps. Sometimes it feels like women are expected to be living, hairless sex dolls for men to thirst after.
“Confidence and self esteem is a fluid thing—you’re allowed to be upset, but still know that you’re more than what you can’t change.”
I wouldn’t have imagined that modeling would give you that kind of perspective!
I know! And I know that it’s silly to care about people talking shit, but when people pick out something that I’m not feeling particularly good about that day, it will hurt. I think throughout the years it’s gotten better, especially having put in so much work towards unconditional self love. The more you’re consciously aware that we’re in a flawed, media-crazed society that makes Photoshopped images the norm, the more you recognize bullshit, superficial judgments. I had to unlearn a lot of behaviors too, and I’m still trying! Confidence and self esteem is a fluid thing—you’re allowed to be upset, but still know that you’re more than what you can’t change.
Well, lately, when I’ve felt gross or down, I’ve forced myself to exercise. I realized it takes me out of a downward spiral of insecurity or self-hatred. What makes you feel better when you’re down?
Oh no! I think the best thing someone can do when they’re feeling not too good with themselves is get out of your room, or any room with negative energy and surround yourself with people who love you. Exercising is pretty therapeutic for me also. Exercise is a good thing, but don’t treat it as something to make you “thinner” or “better looking”—it’s meant to be healthy and your body will love you for it. I think taking care of myself, eating well, exercising and doing things that make me happy really do make a change. Also, getting glammed up with my favorite makeup, hair products, and clothing, then looking in the mirror, like, “Damn, self, you’re not half bad!” will help. A good way to avoid getting down is by not reading trashy magazines that exist to body shame, or watching shows that feed off making fun of people. It’s just unnecessary bad energy.
So who’s first model you idolized?
Hmm, this is a hard one, but Naomi Campbell is obviously the queen of the universe. I am not worthy. Also, I love Gisele because my entire family loves her, and I’ve got to support the Brazilian models doing it big out there.
“Before modeling, I’d always tell myself: “If I lost 30 pounds, I could…” but now, nothing is impossible to me. I can do whatever the fuck I want at this weight, or 30 pounds heavier, or lighter.”
What’s an amazing shoot you’ve done recently?
I loved a shoot I did recently with Petra Collins, mostly because it was with a bunch of dope girls. We took a road trip to Woodstock and the whole day. I really met insanely amazing chicas on that shoot.
And how has modeling affected your body image positively?
Absolutely. Seeing the support for strong women who defy beauty ideals really inspires me. I’ve met tons of other plus-size models and they’re the most gorgeous people on earth. I’ve really learned that there isn’t one type of beauty and that I’m so capable of doing whatever I want, regardless of how big my hips are, or how pudgy my stomach is. Before modeling, I’d always tell myself: “If I lost 30 pounds, I could…” but now, nothing is impossible to me. I can do whatever the fuck I want at this weight, or 30 pounds heavier, or lighter. I would watch every film and look through every magazine trying to find someone I could identify with, and I’m so happy to be in a magazine where a girl can look at me and say, “Wow, there’s someone who isn’t a size 0 in this? I can do this too!”
Who are your favorite designers? What about makeup brands?
I’m so bad at fashion. I wear my grandmas clothes 98% of the time. But I do eye a lot of Miu Miu and Margiela. I love makeup so much, and I own a variety of brands but I’ve got to stick with Too Faced and Urban Decay.
Lastly, could you imagine doing anything other than modeling?
Well, modeling doesn’t last forever. If I wasn’t modeling, I’d probably would be out here acting and creating. I’d do the same thing really, but probably take more selfies.
Photography By Jacob Dekat
Creative Direction By Prince Chenoa