The Euphoria actress opened up about why she distanced herself from her former "body-positive" label.

By Renee Cherry
August 07, 2019
Gary Gershoff/Getty Images

Before landing her role on the HBO show Euphoria, Barbie Ferreira was best known as a "body-positive" model. She starred in unretouched campaigns, called for an end to the use of the term "plus-size", and spoke up about body-shaming in the fashion industry—so the label doesn't seem like a stretch.

Looking back, though, Ferreira's not convinced she should've been considered a face of the body-positivity movement. In a new interview with Jezebel, Ferreira explained why she has a "complicated relationship" with the term "body positive". (Related: The First Plus-Size Supermodel Talks About the Evolution of the Body-Positive Movement)

"...when I started modeling and I was seen as a body-positive figure, I was a size 10-12 white girl with 'proportions' and a skinny face, and I feel like I contributed to the watering down of what body positivity really means," she shared. (Related: I'm Not Body Positive or Negative—I'm Just Me)

In hindsight, Ferreira said she feels like she might've helped certain brands profit off of body positivity without any regard to what the movement really stands for. "And I feel like I was also promoting this idea that a lot of body-positivity, capitalist schemes are doing where it's like, let's get this digestible girl who looks like a skinny woman who fits our beauty standards if you just cropped out her body," she told Jezebel. "I've since gained weight, and as a person who is now a size 14 to 16—and that's even the borderline of plus and straight size—I started to kind of reflect back, and I'm like, wow. Yes, like, of course, I was contributing in small ways to making people feel better about themselves, but it was also like I was also feeding into the capitalist fashion industry version of it."

Ferreira addressed one of the most common complaints about what the body-positivity movement has become. Many companies have capitalized off of the movement while still enforcing traditional beauty standards. "We've gotten to a point where body positivity is okay for some people—mostly people who are pretty close to the traditional beauty ideal—to embrace their 'imperfections' but still not okay for people who are further from this ideal," Alexis Conason, Psy.D., psychologist and founder of the Anti-Diet Plan, previously told us. "For example, we often see body positivity represented in celebrities or models like Ashley Graham. They are doing wonderful important work, but we need to recognize all of the people in more marginalized bodies whose voices are not being heard." (Related: Can You Love Your Body and Still Want to Change It?)

Although she's stepped back from her body-positive model label, Ferreira still cares about representation. She recently told InStyle that her future goals involve seeing more body types represented on-screen. She feels similarly about her casting in Euphoria as she does about her involvement in modeling: It's a "step in the right direction," but many body types still aren't being represented, she explained.

"Hopefully that expands and can also apply to people with different body types who might not be necessarily [fit] the standard of what you think bigger girls should look like," she said. "I also hope that someday, people won’t really focus on body type, because having a whole cast of people where everyone's a size four doesn't read as realistic."

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