12 September 2020

1.jpg 2.jpg 3.jpg 5.jpg

When Barbie Ferreira was a plus-size model, most of her friends looked like her. Soft, fleshy, bountiful. She was part of a group text chain, “The Fat Agenda,” whose members labeled themselves as the “fats in fashion.” As a teenager, she’d hated that word — “fat.” It was weaponized by schoolmates and anonymous commenters who trolled her Tumblr. But when she and the other curvy models began using it as a self-descriptor, it no longer felt as offensive.

Reclaiming that word felt empowering,” she says. “‘Fat’ used to be the worst thing I could ever be called. But ‘fat’ is not a bad word. I really had to train myself to think: Being fat is the least of my problems. Am I a good person? Am I responsible? Am I talented? I’m still training myself, I think.”

Ferreira’s relationship to her body has continued to evolve since leaving the fashion industry to pursue an acting career. In Hollywood, the 23-year-old says it has been difficult to find a community of like-sized peers. She does not personally know other performers who “can relate to the body shaming issue.

It’s the beginning of all this,” she says, meaning more inclusive onscreen representation. “People are starting to figure out that maybe they don’t always cast actors who are super thin. But I know there will be more. I just have to keep going.

On “Euphoria,” the HBO series that introduced Ferreira to a wider audience last year, Ferreira’s weight is central to her character’s backstory. She plays Kat, a high school student haunted by the fallout from a boyfriend who dumped her after she gained 20 pounds. But Kat regains confidence after secretly deciding to become a cam girl, locating an online trove of men who find her and her kinky leather get-ups immensely attractive.

In Ferreira’s first movie role, however, her body is never so much as mentioned. The film, “Unpregnant” — which debuted on HBO Max on Thursday — follows two Missouri high school seniors forced to road trip to New Mexico so that one of them (played by Haley Lu Richardson) can legally get an abortion. It’s a comedy, a genre Ferreira was eager to try. But she was also drawn to the project because it did not call attention to the way she looks.

Before ‘Euphoria,’ everything had to do with my body — ‘plump’ or ‘overweight’ girl,’” she recalls. “When it’s like, ‘Hello, there! I am big and that is why I am sad today’ — you really don’t need to say all that. I’m like, why don’t we just ignore my body? And in this movie, me just existing is enough.

Ferreira is in the living room of her Silver Lake apartment, where one of her three cats keeps entering the video chat screen. She is sitting on a new couch she was recently forced to purchase from Ikea after one of her felines infested her home with fleas. It’s temporary furniture, covered in a shoddy bedsheet, that she’ll get rid of as soon as she moves into the home she just bought — her first. The house, she says, is cozy and old — “kind of the opposite of the glass houses everyone is buying in L.A.” — and she plans to cover it in wallpaper and keep chickens in the yard.

I’m a maximalist,” she says, turning the camera to show off her current gold- and purple-painted walls. She sets her device on the kitchen counter and starts rummaging through her refrigerator. She picks up a sweet potato, deciding to whip up a hash with ground chicken and garlic spread.

Ferreira says she is not a skilled cook, despite the fact that her mother is a professional chef. She is particularly close to her mom, though, who gave birth to her at 21 — just a few years after moving from Brazil to Queens, N.Y. Ferreira says she was raised in a progressive household; her second birthday party was an adults-only affair held at a West Village bar where the entertainment was a drag show. She is pro-choice and did “Unpregnant” in part to promote the idea that abortion is a human right.

Full interview: latimes.com

Leave a Reply