Barbie Ferreira is finding her light.
Before her groundbreaking role as Kat Hernandez in HBO’s Euphoria, the model and mental health advocate posed for several labels including Aeria, Adidas and American Apparel. Now that she’s a rising star, she is using her platform to drive important discussions about unrealistic beauty standards in the fashion industry.
In a recent interview with Who What Wear, the actress opens up about feeling pressure to be “this person who ‘loves themselves’” simply because she’s a plus-sized model.
“It’s so funny that people just assume that,” she said. “What — did I say that? I never said that. You guys just say that. You posted that on me.”
In Euphoria’s second season, Ferreira had the opportunity to explore her feelings. In the second episode, Kat has a dreamlike sequence where a group of female self-love influencers — those who are deemed “perfect” by social media standards — invade her thoughts while screaming “Love yourself!” until she has a meltdown.
The scene is a metaphor about the negative affects toxic positivity online has on young people already experiencing anxiety — something that personally resonates with Ferreira.
“I feel like I had a lot of things come up emotionally because of the pandemic, and putting some of that into this season was therapeutic for me,” Ferreira said. “I hope other people [watching] can also feel the same way and release the pressure of being perfect and happy all the time. Because that just doesn’t exist.”
The universal struggle of loving ourselves is something Ferreira still deals with.
“I think bigger bodies are not as ‘trendy’ as they used to be, which is really sad to me. But it’s more of a conversation of the fact that we all struggle with self-love, and I don’t think any young person has really figured it out yet,” she explained. “It’s not radical for me to be wearing a crop top. [Comments like those are] just backhanded compliments. I’ve been doing this since I was 16. I’m 25.”
Ferreira thinks self-esteem is fueled by inclusivity.
“I have all the resources in the world to get something that fits, and it’s still extremely difficult,” she said. “So I feel for everyone who’s still trying to find things that fit them.”
“I could do a seminar on this,” she added. “I always think about the fact that if these clothes came in my size, I would be out here doing even more.”
Ferreira has been outspoken in the past about how her character on Euphoria is shattering stereotypes.
In 2019, the actress spoke to Yahoo Life about how Kat is providing a realistic depiction of a plus-size teenage girl that audiences have been craving to see for years.
“I don’t think anyone wants to see a one-dimensional character that’s the fat best friend,” she explained at the time. “This tragic girl who can’t seem to find it until she loses weight. And the best part is that Kat being fat really does influence a lot of it but her storyline isn’t centered around it.”
“I think we’ve just had enough of that tragic storyline,” she continued. “There’s so many people out there that are obviously bigger than a size 4, which is what we see most of the time, and not everyone is just moping around about it. Of course there’s times when you do, but that’s not the full story.”
By David Artavia