Okay, so I absolutely don’t appetite to accomplish this a adventure about Barbie Ferreira’s body. About how she is “soft, fleshy, bountiful” (L.A. Times, September 2020) and has “learned to embrace her curves” (Daily Mail, the day afterwards this photo shoot). About what it’s like to “be whittled bottomward to your best marketable, tokenized parts” (Them., September 2019) or whether “the appellation ‘plus-size model’—is that article you are accept with?” (W, a hundred years ago, in March 2016).
And yet actuality I am, application the aperture curve of the 23-year-old’s aboriginal above annual awning adventure to allocution about her body.
Because here’s the thing: It’s all a fucking trap. The pointing out, the celebrating, the absolute messaging: This not-thin woman is thriving! Can you accept it?! Yes, it is important to see accession like Barbie. To accept her anatomy acicular out and celebrated. To bulletin to added women—especially women who, like me, attending added like Barbie than not—that, Oh, shit, yeah, you can advance too. Aloof watching Barbie abide does article (not aggregate but something) to annul the years of ambuscade your aerial arms, of spending your allowance on diet pills, of continuing in the accomplishments of accumulation pics accomplishing that affair area you stick out your arch like E.T. so that, if you’re lucky, you’ll attending aloof a little bit smaller.
Barbie gets this too. She knows that her body’s bald actuality in Hollywood is a balm. How relieving, how energy-shifting, how so-good-it’s-almost-numbing it is to see accession you can chronicle to in an ad, on TV, in a movie. But that doesn’t beggarly it’s fair. It doesn’t accomplish it accept that alike admitting she’d absolutely like to Finally Move On to article else—her ambitions, maybe…her talent, her absolute work—she has to accumulate talking about her body. Which agency I do too, at atomic for some of this story.
But anyway, here’s article that has aught to do with it: Barbie’s top-billing role in this fall’s Unpregnant. It’s a road-trip associate comedy…about abortion. And honestly, it’s great. Warm and down-covered and accepted absolutely funny. Also real. “Normalizing aborticide is what we accept to do,” Barbie says matter-of-factly, beneath the afterglow of cord lights in her L.A. kitchen during our midday Zoom. “Society puts this burden on bodies who are accepting abortions, that they should feel a lot of answerability and abashment and absolutely affecting about it. Best bodies are aloof relieved.”
Barbie plays Bailey, arbitrary aerial academy beatnik and ex–best acquaintance of Veronica (played by Haley Lu Richardson), the Insta-perfect accepted senior. They reconnect aback Veronica realizes she’s abundant and needs to biking beyond several states for an abortion. Veronica’s aggregation is too judgy, her parents too religious, to ask for help, and Bailey has a car.
I apperceive what you’re thinking, and no, it’s not one of those roles—theone-dimensional appearance whose insecurities are acclimated for action or to assert the appealing lead. Bailey is complex, with her own abounding backstory and plotline. And best important: “My appearance was not based on her anatomy whatsoever,” says Barbie. The role of Bailey didn’t accommodate a anatomy type—neither the absurd affectionate (“fluffy”) nor the accurate affectionate (“overweight, loud, and sassy”), both of which Barbie has credible accounting into appearance descriptions. Anyone, in theory, could be Bailey. “It was absolutely abundant not to allocution about—or act out—my anatomy for once,” she adds.
Especially since, for Barbie, it’s consistently been about acting, alike afore she became a full-time archetypal at age 18. Specifically a “plus-size” model, not that the characterization was all that authentic. As a admeasurement 10, she’d accept to accompany added to photo shoots to fit into the clothes she was asked to archetypal for Adidas, H&M, Target, Missguided, ASOS, and added casting campaigns with “plus-size” lines.
When she acquired weight and hit admeasurement 14, “people were cogent me to lose weight—are you kidding?” she remembers, her easily punctuating anniversary affronted word. “The accomplished time, I’d been talking about actuality yourself and no one was listening. I understood, at that moment, that alike if I was agreeable from the mountaintops, it was alone acclimated for marketing.”
Still, she kept screaming, and her outspokenness—especially in interviews with appearance publications—about the industry’s analysis of non-tiny bodies catapulted her into a altered affectionate of spotlight. She was one of Time’s “most affecting teens” of 2016 and became a advanced woman for the body-positivity movement. That influence? Still there. Earlier this year, she active on to be the first-ever face of Becca Cosmetics—on her own terms, tyvm. “I told them: I’m not absorbed in a adorableness arrangement or adorableness aggregation that’s not activity to be accouterment to bodies added than white, cis, beeline folks,” she recalls, her brows furrowing in a way that says, Hi, hello, don’t you get how accessible this is? “That’s not what I’m absorbed in because I don’t anticipate that’s what adorableness is. In fact, I appetite to see beneath of that. It’s already demography up so abundant amplitude in the world. Why don’t we try article new?”
That aloof ability accept been the moment aback those advantageous absorption woke up—to see that while abundant of Barbie’s career had been about her anatomy and that, okay, her anatomy would apparently still comedy into approaching chapters, it would no best be THE thing. There was absolutely already so abundant abroad activity on: the *real* actuality that makes her so electric. Like her…how do I put this…charm, maybe, if “charm” didn’t complete like article your grandmother would say. Charisma? Feels airless too. It’s whatever you’d alarm what she’s cutting today, which is basically the apotheosis of accounting “indie babe aesthetic” into the Pinterest chase bar: an billowing atramentous T-shirt with a cigarette-smoking Frankenstein on the advanced layered over washed-out-floral Gaultier continued sleeves; a messy-but-not-messy topknot; a argent safety-pin necklace; one argent arch adornment dangling from her larboard ear. She’s dressed for Zoom, which agency I wasn’t declared to see her basal half, but aback she moves to sit on the couch, there they are: Team Ravenclaw basketball shorts. (Also offscreen: a new tattoo. “It’s a circling on my butt,” she says nonchalantly. “A circling for my apprehension spiral.” Her girlfriend, artist Elle Puckett, did it with the calm stick-and-poke kit Barbie able Elle for her birthday.)
It all credibility to a chill-girl vibe, alike admitting she absolutely can’t do annihilation in a arctic way. “I either do it too abundant or I don’t do it at all,” she confesses, afore ablution into capacity about her accidental Animal Crossing addiction. “I had to accord myself deadlines because I’d be so bent up that it would be, like, 4 a.m. It’s antic that I alike spent this abundant time on this game. Because you accept to do every distinct little affair by hand. By hand, I beggarly by Nintendo Switch. Here’s a little avalanche area….”
Being aloof a tad affected and ambidextrous with a lot of all-overs is array of in her DNA (which, if you can’t relate, I don’t accept you). “As an ancient Gen Z, we’ve gotten our fair allotment of bad times,” says Barbie. “I mean, my aboriginal day of kindergarten was 9/11. We were the guinea pigs of the internet—you’re 11, and the black of the absolute apple is aloof arranged into your computer and you’re scrolling through it.” Growing up, she was on everything: Tumblr, LiveJournal, Neopets, RuneScape, Xanga. “That had to do article to my brain,” she continues. “I mean, I got crippling anxiety. A lot of abasement issues, bistro issues, paranoias, and aloof awe-inspiring things that I’m one thousand percent assertive are from the internet. I don’t apperceive if we’re advised to do that…to babble online with strangers aback you’re 9. God knows who I was talking to.”
Then there’s her ancestors backstory, the array of familiar, aspirational American dream that up until afresh still acquainted like a absolute possibility. Barbie was aloft by her Brazilian distinct mother, with an aunt and grandma arena advancement childcare while her mom, now a clandestine chef, counterbalanced comestible academy and a arduous restaurant job. “It was hard,” Barbie says, “but Grandma was there, bushing my academician with fabricated stories.”
“She aloof embellishes things,” shoots aback Barbie’s mom, Janaina, who’s aloof FaceTimed into our Zoom.
“Mom, Grandma acclimated to say that she had brunch with Gisele Bündchen,” Barbie responds.
When Barbie aboriginal larboard New York to move to L.A., Janaina would FaceTime her alert a day aloof to say hi—and to accomplish abiding Barbie was still alive. “If I didn’t answer, she was activity to alarm me aback six times,” Barbie laughs. “Yes, Mom, I adulation talking to you, but I’m activity to balloon to alarm you back, and it doesn’t beggarly I’m dead.” It’s a cultural difference, Barbie explains, a first-generation-American-kid affair that I (and my missed-call log) apperceive all too well: Our parents aloof don’t get why we’re not acrimonious up the buzz all the time or active at home or advancing over for banquet every distinct night. Like aback her mom visits and Barbie offers to put her up at a nice auberge or Airbnb but Janaina cries because she wants to break with Barbie, alike if that agency sleeping on the couch.
Right now, they haven’t credible anniversary added aback Christmas, the longest they’ve anytime been apart. “I like to accept that I’m a acquaintance of yours,” Janaina says. “And I apperceive aback things are serious, for the acceptable or for the bad, I’m the aboriginal actuality you allocution to.” Yes, the fantasy of absolutely actuality accompany with your mom seems absolute for them. I can feel it three screens removed. Alike aback Barbie shows off the recipe-blog-esque blimp peppers she’s been affable during our account and her mom replies that she doesn’t like blimp peppers; she prefers blimp zucchini.
And afresh there’s this, the simplest but best burning acumen you can’t attending abroad from Barbie: her congenital talent. “I was a very, cartel I say, accordant kid,” she says, “and maybe, cartel I say, acutely emotional.” Acting was the alone affair that got her out of those feels. She did the ball thing, and afterwards school, she’d rehearse for plays with the bounded Boys & Girls Club, boring her grandma to auditions “even admitting my grandma didn’t allege English, didn’t apperceive area she was.”
At age 21, Barbie auditioned for the role of Euphoria’s Kat Hernandez, like, 10 times afore it was bottomward to her and one added actress. “I accept never in my activity been added anxious,” she says. “I was actually exploding. I couldn’t alike move best of the day because I was aloof like, I charge this. If annihilation else, accord me this, accord me this and that’s it.”
She got the call—technically, three absent calls from her agent, her manager, and the casting director—while in therapy. “I was like, ‘Carol, Imma accept to acknowledgment this,’” Barbie says with a laugh. “She’s like, ‘I’ll be actuality for you behindhand of the decision.’ And I’m like, I adulation Carol.”
If you’ve watched the appearance (and I apperceive you have), you get why she was the one cast. Barbie never looks like she’s trying. All the grit, the work, the overthinking appropriate to accompany a complicated appearance like Kat to activity is both accessible and not-at-all in her performance.
She apparently couldn’t accept pulled off any of that if she weren’t ashore in such realism. In a media-trained apple of ambiguous answers and people-pleasing, her actuality is a babble bigger than “refreshing.” Like how absolute she is about her worries that opportunities like Euphoria and Unpregnant, for her or for anyone who isn’t the acceptable Hollywood anatomy type, won’t be about forever. (Yeah, sorry, aback to anatomy stuff, aloof for a second.) “That it’s not activity to be ‘trendy’ anymore,” she says. “That brands are still activity to acquisition bodies who are the thinnest adaptation accessible of something.”
Or like how she talks about her best top-of-mind anguish this year: the election. It scares the bits out of Barbie (her words), and it should alarm the bits out of anybody abundant to go vote (again, her words). “In the years aback Trump was elected, I’ve noticed how accepted very, actual abhorrent behavior are,” Barbie says, attractive up at the ceiling, allotment her words carefully. “It’s a disservice to oneself to anticipate that anybody thinks the way you do. It’s added credible now than anytime in my activity that I am active in a altered apple than a lot of people.”
“We anticipate we’re the greatest country, we anticipate we’re perfect, we anticipate we’re the acreage of the free, but inherently, we’re not,” she continues. “We’re disillusioned about the country. I anticipate that’s area Gen Z gets a lot of the all-overs and the anguish and the brainy neuroses. We still haven’t reckoned with this.” (That ability explain the Juul she keeps reflexively inhaling from. She did quit, by the way—she alike about appear on Instagram that she was abandonment alongside her Euphoria costar Hunter Schafer, but “now I’m back,” she says. “It’s an addiction that I am alive on. I am not a absolute person.”)
Right now, like so abounding of us, Barbie’s demography alleviation in her friends, abnormally aback it comes to adverse those abhorrent behavior or the claimed attacks they breed. Her bestie, the extra Rowan Blanchard, says, “So abounding bodies feel like they can allege on everybody’s life. But I adulation to admonish Barbie, ‘You’re fucking awesome, dude. You’re amazing. You’re so talented. You’re so smart. You’re so beautiful.’ You charge somebody to be your mirror sometimes, you know?”
That’s it, that’s Barbie: a mirror. Our mirror, our solace. Bearing attestant to her accepting asked about, advised on, and talked about in agreement of alone her concrete anatomy triggers article central of us. Actuality appear all of our own abiding fears and discomforts that are appropriate beneath the surface. The abhorrence of not actuality advised aces enough, the ache of not activity capital enough. The ones that never absolutely go away. But to see Barbie say fuck that—to see her advance through it, to booty up as abundant amplitude as she wants…it’s affidavit that the alone bits that has to amount is the bits we acquiesce to matter. And it’s abatement you never expected, not because you didn’t apperceive you bare it. But because you never anticipation you’d get it.
Fashion administration by Cassie Anderson. Styled by Chris Horan. Hair by Ken Paves application STYLD by Ken Paves. Makeup by Kali Kennedy at Forward Artists application Becca Cosmetics. Manicure by Queenie Nguyen at Nailing Hollywood for MiniLuxe. Props by Danielle Von Braun for Art Department.
On Barbie: T-shirt look: Vintage Jean Paul Gaultier top, Pechuga Vintage; Lisa Says Gah T-shirt; PH5 shorts; Oma the Characterization earrings; Ariana Boussard-Reifel ring. Awning look: PH5 top and skirt; LedaMadera earrings; ArianaBoussard-Reifel ring. Champagne look: Vivienne Westwood custom top, Pechuga Vintage; Adventure Mfg. pants; White/Space Jewelry earrings. Sunset look: Hervé Léger dress; Cled earrings. Beach armchair look: Mugler dress; Ariana Boussard-Reifel ring. Close-up look: Schiaparelli earrings; Miaou corset.
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