In an industry where unhealthily thin bodies have been the longtime ideal, curvy models have struggled to get their voices heard. Now they finally have the world’s attention, but there are still plenty of loose ends that are left unaddressed.
Whenever curvy model and body positive activist Barbie Ferreira speaks out against industry issues, her message resonates with other plus-size models and the women they represent, across the board. In an Instagram post on Monday, Ferreira addressed the nuanced problems that arise from classifying every model above a size 4 as “plus-size.”
Posting a photo of rapper Takeoff, a member of the group Migos, looking utterly confused, Ferreira went off on the unrealistic expectations that curvy models are held to. “Me when I see only size 8 girls in the plus size world getting signed and going to plus size castings when everyone knows damn well the smallest sample is a size 14,” Ferreira wrote.
She admitted that for her, the pressure is on to fit a new body standard facing curvy models: what she calls “the Instagram body.” People “pressure me to lose weight to adhere to this new trend of slimming down curve models for some reason,” she wrote. “I’m the smallest sample at a plus store I should not be made to feel too big.”
She added: “When I first started plus modeling this wasnt the tea. U didnt need to have an Instagram body to model clothing for plus size women. … These girls are a size 6 modeling clothing for women n young girls who do not look like that. It’s irresponsible. … Why are there only size six/eight girls getting signed when plus stores are usually for women who can’t find clothes anywhere else and have to see a thin woman wear the clothes they are supposed to be buying?”
“When I started everyone was a 14/16, sometimes a 12,” Ferreira shares with Yahoo Beauty. “I was too small and told by clients that I need to fit the sample. I finally do and now it’s not trendy?”
Instead, the new ideal is the tiny waist, wide hips, and full booties that we’re used to seeing on Instagram. But asking size 14 models to achieve this shape, one that isn’t attainable for most bodies, is harmful. “Who knows what lengths people are going to go to to look like that?” Ferreira says.
Plus-size brand Simply Be faced criticism last week for the casting of its new #WeAreCurves campaign, which featured Iskra Lawrence, Marquita Pring, and Denise Bidot. Each of the three models wears between a size 14 and 18, thus not representing the upper end of the brand’s 12-32 size range.
The campaign upset previous fans of the brand who felt that their bodies were not represented, despite the clothes being made for women their size. “I’m fed up of @SimplyBeUK saying they are for plus size and only ever showing small girls in all adverts and catalogs! Get real, use above a size 14/16!!! Embrace what you say you are, don’t reinforce what the masses think we should look like!” one woman wrote on Instagram. “Wish I had a flat belly like all of those plus size babes,” wrote another.
Ferreira’s post was praised for speaking out against campaigns like this one. “Girl. Yes. The fat-phobic choices in the plus model world (and world in general, really) are disgusting. But you are doing the right thing by being a part of change. Speaking up. Being your authentic self and not letting anyone shrink you. You’re amazing and gorgeous on the inside and out. Forever looking up to you babe,” one fan wrote. Another commented: “Thank you!! I am also sick of seeing that. … It’s like they are now ok with big thighs, butt and cellulite, but god forbid have a little tummy.”
Still, Ferreira notes that there is room in the industry for all body types, including Instagram bodies. “I’m all for being in between a size 4-10 and modeling,” she clarified. “I don’t understand why there are only SMALL girls getting signed recently and why stores that only have size 14+ book them?? Where are the bigger women??”
Ferreira’s post makes the case for embracing all body types — not just the Instagram-friendly ones.
Read more from Yahoo Style + Beauty:
- Simply Be’s New #WeAreCurves Campaign Has Sparked a Debate About Plus-Size Diversity
- Why This Lingerie Photo of Two ‘Very Different’ Best Friends Is Important
- Barbie Ferreira Has Some Words for Her Haters Who Think She Only Eats Taco Bell