From her groundbreaking unretouched campaign for aerie to her body-positive activism, 19-year-old curve model Barbie Ferreira knows how to be seen and heard. She sat down with Latina and spoke to us about her journey as a curve model, how her Brazilian upbringing influenced her confidence and why young Latinas need to stop holding themselves to impossible beauty standards.
How has being Latina influenced your life?
My culture influences everything I do. I’m Brazilian, and I grew up with a single mom, a wild grandma and my aunt. I saw my mom jump through every hoop under the sun to allow me these opportunities. She immigrated here, with my entire family, only a couple of years before I was born. We came from literally nothing, and she worked her butt off to get me everything I ever wanted. Her independence, motivation and sensitivity are so important to me. I grew up with such a strong support system that I was never made to feel unattractive or not good enough.
How has your relationship with your body grown throughout your career as a curve model?
It has its ups and downs, definitely. I feel like every 19-year-old girl feels similar to me. I just make sure I am super aware of why I'm feeling this way and why its illogical. It helps me bounce back quickly.
While many people use social media to create a fake persona, you've always kept it real about who you are. How do you find the courage to be yourself on such public platforms?
I grew up on the Internet, so it has been sort of a way of expressing myself for most of my life. I didn't create Instagram to be a "brand." I created it to curate my interests and extend part of my life. I think people, especially young people, are over-seeing such blatantly edited pictures and obvioulsy tactful social media presences. Being myself allows me to express myself in my own way and not in the way people think will get as many followers as possible.
What advice do you have for young Latinas still learning to love their bodies?
Stop feeding into the social media and Hollywood bullsh*t about having the “perfect” curves or face. All of these standards are wildly crazy, and, in a few years, we're going to look back and laugh. Cartoonish-looking bodies are completely OK if an adult made the decision to do it, but to show that to so many young girls and tell them that this is natural and what's sexy makes me uneasy. Be aware that these people spend thousands of dollars to look a certain way with Photoshop, makeup, treatments … so much of it has nothing to do with genetics — stop being hard on yourself.