Barbie Ferreira: The US size 12 model taking fashion world by storm with un-retouched photos

Barbie Ferreira. She’s the name on everyone’s lips after her un-retouched advert for American Eagle Outfitters’ #aeriereal campaign dropped online last week to a very welcome reception. 

The body positive campaign promises not to airbrush models featured in its swimwear collection. Bucking the trend of Photoshopping models beyond recognition is a rare but welcome move from a fashion brand, and, hopefully, one that could set the tone for future clothing adverts. 

Recognise her? You should, because this is far from her first foray into modelling. You may remember Ferreira from the American Apparel campaigns that marked her arrival into the fashion world as a model to watch. Ferreira was plucked from obscurity to represent the brand after sending in images of herself on a whim, only to receive a phone call the next day asking her to come in for a shoot. 

Who is she?

Ferreira, 19, was signed to Wilhelmina Curve in March. 

With over 230,000 followers on Instagram and counting, she’s also a major social media influencer. 

Ferreira is based in New York. 

Curve model

Ferreira is the first size US size 12/UK size 16 model to be chosen for American Eagles’ #AerieReal campaign, which launched in 2014.  

She models for curvy and mainstream lines but takes issue with the term ‘plus size’ and the negative effect she believes categorising women under this term can have. 

“I fell into this niche that I discovered through the industry - because I was a size 12, companies would only want me to model their curvy lines. I loved doing the curvy lines and I know it’s needed since a lot of women are told they aren’t beautiful or they’re not “normal,” having to go to a different store or different section for clothes their size,“ she told Ravelin last year. 

“At the same time, though, I felt as though thick girls don’t always need to be separated or put into our own section. We should be represented with other body types. I felt the term ‘plus size’ was inaccurate and kept all these beautiful, stunning women, with the widest spectrum of body types I’ve ever seen—mind you, curvy agencies start at a size 6 and go up to a size 18—from being seen and resonated with.” 

Body Positive

 Ferraria is keen to dispell misconceptions that only a slim body is a healthy one, something she discusses in her advert. 

“'I am unapologetically myself, no matter what anyone’s opinion is. Not being retouched in the images is something that is very important to me,” she said. “People knowing that that's what I look like without anyone's perception of what my body needs to look like.”

Ferraria also feels a responsibility to use her platform to undermine unrealistic beauty standards perpetuated by fashion and the media.

She told Galore Magazine in July: “People are so influenced by the media that they really believe a 38-24-45 plastic-surgery body is normal, and they can’t understand why a body would possibly have cellulite or bumps. Sometimes it feels like women are expected to be living, hairless sex dolls for men to thirst after.

Gender fluid

Like Jaden Smith, who recently appeared in Louis Vuitton’s gender fluid advert, Ferreira believes gender identity is fluid and not fixed by biological sex.

“We need to overcome the stereotype that genders aren’t fluid,” she told ID. “I can't wait for the moment that gender is taught as something that doesn't reflect what body you were born with. But I think to promote more body positivity, we just need diversity, period.”