Meet Petra Collins' Badass, Curvy Model Muse
When I first met Barbara Ferreira (it’s not Barbie Nox and she will correct you if you get it wrong), I couldn’t help but notice the effortless beauty she maintains in sweats and no make up, not to mention her eyebrows – which she notes she hasn’t “really touched lately.” The self identified plus sized model has been making waves for her unabashed body love and self acceptance. Online or off, Barbie’s personality is sweet and bubbly as she jokes about her love of pugs and her ‘old lady’ name. Beginning as an American Apparel model, Barbie has now come into her own as a model, fashionista and BFF/muse to fashion photographer and fierce feminist Petra Collins. Milk’s Jordan Mack got to sit with the Instagram it-girl about seeing Rihanna at the club, anime, and some life advice for the modeling world.
Barbara or Barbie?
Either/or really. People have always called me weird names like Babz, Bebe, Ara? I used to hate my name [laughs]. Kids used to make fun of me! Their mom’s name would be Barbara or their grandma. So they’d be like ‘haha you’re my mom!’ My mom to this day will only say, ‘It’s a popular name in Brazil. I don’t know what to tell you.’
So, there seems to be two sides of the industry labeling curvy women as plus sized models versus a now reclamation of the term ‘plus sized model.’ Where do you feel you stand in it?
I’m pretty torn because I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being plus sized. I don’t think it’s something people should be so ashamed of. At the same time, I don’t think it’s very accurate. There are girls of all sizes in the modeling world. Some of them are not plus sized. Some people are just bigger than the straight sized modeling world. On the other hand, you do have to specifically ask for a plus sized model. We’re not considered ‘the norm.’ We’re not just models. It’s a different direction. It’s weird that a word can do that.
Starting from American Apparel, how did you boom into this little mini empire you’ve created for yourself?
Mini empire! I love that! I don’t really know though. I started at American Apparel. I was going to high school and worked at the store. It was cool! I would see my pictures on Instagram and stuff, but I didn’t think I could ever really model. I would go to little modeling gigs and see the other girls and think, ‘I’m not as tall. I’m not this. I’m not that.’ It wasn’t until I started working with Petra that I felt confident. She would use me for things that you would expect a six foot girl to get.
How did your relationship with Petra start?
At the time, she had a show with American Apparel. I was pretty into it because it was the only job I had at the time. She knew me through that. I would also go to a lot of her shows. I really loved her stuff. I love her now too! I was just hanging out at one of her shows and she came up to me and asked to shoot me. She shot me for i-D first, and then after a few months she was using me a lot.
Your eyebrows are amazing, by the way. How? Just how?
Thank you so much! I haven’t really touched them lately. I used to thread them a lot. I used to hate them and pluck them a lot when I was little! They would just be straight lines when I was done with them. I would over do it. Freshman year of high school I had that ‘always looks surprised face’ because I plucked so much!
I love Barbie Club NYC! Those palm tree hats are my favorite.
Thank you! We just put new hats out with pugs on them. I love pugs. My aunt has a pug, Piggy the Puggy. He’s out of the country now in Brazil, but he used to live it up in the West Village!
What would you name your own little puggy?
I was just talking about this to someone! Dr. Francisco Lapaws! Someone said I should name it ‘Fluffy.’ Hell no! My pug went to medical school. He’s educated.
Do you have any other artistic ventures you would want to pursue?
Barbie Club will absolutely expand. I started with acting. I’ve done theater since I was six.
What was the best production you were in?
I was in Peter Pan once! I was Peter! It wasn’t really Peter Pan though. We did it for some Buena Vista Pictures dinner. I was so young but I loved it. I had a girlfriend and I’d show her off to everyone. I was a serious actor, guys [laughs].
What’s your dream acting role?
I could see myself in so many things, but I feel like they don’t give me a chance because of my body type. I understand it. My body type compared to everyone else would look odd on camera. That’s how they think but that’s really just a technicality I guess. I see myself in an HBO drama. I’d just get to be really dramatic and really hot all the time. I wouldn’t be able to show my boobs for them though. I’d need like a weird boob growth or a chest piece. That’s my new Instagram name now: boobgrowth [laughs].
How does it feel to be so young but also hold such a large social platform and be an inspiration for curvy girls that do want to model?
A lot of people didn’t think plus sized modeling was a thing, but now people are really seeing it. They assume it’s just very tall, very slender, pretty girls. That’s not the case. I mean, it’s not bad to look that way. It is a look, but it’s only one. People come in so many different looks that are really beautiful. I think representation is helping them to realize that there’s beauty outside of what seems to be common. It’s not just one look that can be beautiful in the media.
Is it ever really annoying to have such a following and platform, but still not be able to drink in the States?
I don’t even like drinking! I mean, I do not like drinking, as I am under-aged and that is against the law [laughs]. If I were to drink, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. I don’t fiend for it. Wait for weed to legalize, then we’ll talk [laughs].
Do you have any style icons? I really love Rihanna—
No! You do not love Rihanna more than me! [laughs]. One time I saw her across the club and I was internally screaming. I had her picture as my background and I was so embarrassed to have it go off. She didn’t see it, but even the chance of someone else seeing it was too much. I was also wearing socks with sandals that night. Slides with socks at the club with Rihanna there.
You post a lot of anime related things on your Instagram. Are you also an anime nerd?
I can’t claim that I’m a huge anime nerd. I’ve only watched some but I really like it! My best friend is obsessed with anime. He’s the one the shows me everything. I want to watch a new show now but I don’t know what. I just finished Sword Art Online.
Are you going to cosplay?
Yes! I’m cosplaying as Death from an anime that I watch. I relate to her a lot because she has a lot of man slaves. Internally that’s me.
Is there anything you want our readers to know about you?
Please don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! You’re more beautiful than the world gives you credit for!
Follow Barbie’s Instagram here