The fashion industry’s social media obsession is a well-documented phenomenon. In 2016, the three models with the most magazine cover bookings (Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid) all belonged to the cult of the “Instagirl.” The problem is, social media presences are often deceiving. Positively captioned, aesthetically pleasing photos attract followers and social media-savvy models interested in upping their marketability play by the rules of the game.
However, in the face of the perfectly beaming model movement, certain voices of reason and realness have risen to prominence. Barbie Ferreira is one of the leaders of this bunch, earning her 373,000 following (and a boatload of accolades) thanks to her outspoken charm and unquestionable beauty. Ferreira, as a curve model, is also at the frontlines of the body-positive movement. She starred in the All Woman Project’s debut campaign. She hosted a body-positive video series for Teen Vogue. She fills her Instagram and Twitter pages with words and images that celebrate her so-called “flaws.” Using her backstage pass to the fashion and beauty worlds, Ferreira repeatedly pulls back the curtain on both industries’ blatant double standards.
Case in point: On Monday morning, Ferreira posted a photo on Instagram flaunting her stretch marks. She’s 19 years old, her body is changing and maturing, and stretch marks are part of that natural, awe-inspiring process. Within hours, Teen Vogue had published a piece applauding Barbie’s confidence. “Even though her body has changed over the years, Barbie still loves how she looks and appreciates those differences — stretch marks and all. Instead of hiding how our body changes and trying to get rid of our marks, we should all love them as much as Barbie loves hers,” it read.
In a separate post thanking Teen Vogue for the write-up, Ferreira shared a much less enlightened reaction to her stretch marks. “After I posted the picture of my stretch marks, not even a few hours later I stood naked at work in front of strangers (super vulnerable position) and got asked what was wrong with my hips — pointing at my stretch marks — by a woman,” Ferreira wrote. “I’d be lying through my teeth if I didn’t say micro-aggressions like this don’t happen on the daily for me in this industry. Grown ass adults commenting on my teenage body needing Spanx, bra cutlets to make me look ‘better,’ or Photoshopping my body to be ‘smoother’ right in front of me.” According to Ferreira, more often than not, the culprits are plus clients — those who hire plus-size models to help sell their brand as inclusive in order to boost sales.
Thank you @teenvogue for this write up. After I posted the picture of my stretch marks, not even a few hours later I was stood naked at work in front of strangers (super vulnerable position) and got asked what was wrong with my hips.. Pointing at my stretch marks. By a woman. Id be lying through my teeth if I didn’t say micro-aggressions like this don’t happen on the daily for me in this industry. And like I always do, I choke back the tears and keep going like nothing happened. Grown ass adults commenting on my teenage body needing spanx, bra cutlets to make me look “better” or Photoshopping my body to be “smoother” right in front of me- most of the time by plus clients. This industry is not cute, never has been. I don’t want to sell you this idea that all these brands are so body positive when it’s so few that actually represent what women look like not just an idealized version of a thick girl (like they try to do to me.) girls are not treated like people in this industry !! At all !! If you think my abuse is bad, ask a runway model who went from a 34 to a 35 inch hip.. They will tell you they flat out get told to starve and that they’re looking fat. Shit isn’t as pretty as it looks but.. I’m here to infiltrate from the inside. I truly don’t know how much we can do as curvy models when we’re still thought of as mannequins- just ones who are cursed to only wear peplums and tunics all day to cover our “flawed” bodies n show just our usually thin faces. Anyway, just wanted to rant because I am so privileged to be here but the flaws in this world make me feel like absolute garbage at the sake of getting paid and trying to spread my message. Not only the consumer is being told they’re not good enough- even the girls in the pictures are given the same shit. But y’all got me trapped cuz I need to make a living and enjoy tf out of representing curvy girls all over !!! Jokes on me .
A photo posted by barbie ferreira not nox (@barbienox) on
She continued, “This industry is not cute, never has been. I don’t want to sell you this idea that all these brands are so body positive when it’s so few that actually represent what women look like not just an idealized version of a thick girl (like they try to do to me).”
“Not only the consumer is being told they’re not good enough — even the girls in the pictures are given the same shit,” Ferreira concluded, leaving her followers with the (somewhat) reassuring notion that, in spite of the grim state of things, we at least have Ferreira on our side, dropping knowledge and “infiltrating” the industry “from the inside.”
While we’re hardly surprised by Ferreira’s words, it is important for curve models to continue to debunk not only the deceptive power of Photoshop, but remind us that the fight for real inclusion is only beginning. The industry’s ideas of attractiveness are rapidly expanding, but they’re nowhere near where they need to be. And in order to keep brands honest, we must first be honest ourselves.
[ via Vogue ]