Barbie Ferreira appeared in Aerie’s unretouched #AerieReal campaign. (Photo: Aerie/Instagram)
Curvy models have blown up the fashion industry. They’re demanding to be seen, heard, and unretouched. They’re more outspoken than any models before them, and they’re like a breath of fresh air after decades of waifs. Still, we never see their gorgeous faces in beauty ads. “People try to sell a fantasy with beauty campaigns. Overly Photoshopped, perfect, white, thin figures are a standard that most people still hold as beautiful because the industry says so,” says Barbie Ferreira, whose unretouched bikini images for Aerie went viral. “The beauty industry is just like the fashion industry – prejudice is ingrained. But with new people coming in with fresh eyes and passion, I definitely am seeing progress.”
So what’s the difference between beauty and fashion that excludes curvy models from appearing in beauty campaigns? For one, beauty images don’t show off now coveted curvy bodies. “The curve model in lingerie is a spectacle. [People think] we all have to be overly sexy and pretty much naked to be beautiful,” says Ferreira. “[Curvy models] are multidimensional and not a fetish nor just diversity points.” Today’s most successful curve models have more universally beautiful faces than those that we see strutting down runways, and while this plays into the sexiness factor that Ferreira resents, it also means their faces are better suited for makeup than many of the thinner models’. Their gorgeous proportions mean they have ideal “makeup faces,” but still they are ignored.
Barbie is confident that the industry is moving forward, though. “I’ve had great opportunities and at least am given the chance to come in and show my face at [beauty] castings, even if I don’t necessarily get the job,” she says. “I think now is a time for change and people are catching on slowly. Even being able to get in the door is a win for me because for so long we weren’t even acknowledged.” Ferreira and other curve models are using their powerful voices and online presences to get in front of casting directors and demand the same consideration as straight sized models. “Most curve models including myself are working our asses off to be heard, or else we’d be ignored,” says Ferreira. “I got so many laughs when I first started, making fun of me for even considering changing such a traditional industry, but here we are. We work extremely hard to even get recognition, but it’s a team effort. Casting directors can love you but the client doesn’t get it. It’s about timing right now.” Barbie is motivated to give girls a realistic image to look up to, and we hope the beauty industry falls for her soon. “It’s always been a dream to be in a beauty campaign,” she says. “Anything that can show girls they can look ethereal at any size. Just gotta keep working and working!”