‘I Wasn’t Trying To Be A Revolution’: America Ferrera Reflects On How Her Body Was Perceived In Hollywood When She Was A Teen

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Written By Maya Cantina

As 2023 comes to a close, America Ferrera can look back fondly on her year in Hollywood, especially as one of the key stars of the Barbie movie alongside Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Michael Cera and more. Amid being part of 2023’s biggest blockbuster, Ferrera reflected on her over two decades in Hollywood by talking candidly about what it was like having her body scrutinized in the public eye in the early days of her career. 

A lot has changed in regard to how Hollywood perceives a range of body types (and it still has a long way to go). When America Ferrera entered the movie industry, her debut film was Real Women Have Curves followed by The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movies a few years later, both of which discussed the young actress’ body type. Here’s what Ferrera had to say about her early years as an actor: 

My career started when I was 17. I’d say for about 99 percent of 17-year-old girls, the idea of being under scrutiny like that is terrifying. And, on top of that, I was so often spoken about as ‘non-traditional’ or outside of the standard of beauty. There was so much focus, right from the beginning, on my body and how it was such a ‘revolution.’ I wasn’t trying to be a revolution. I was trying to do what I love and build a career.

During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the publication asked America Ferrera to comment further on once calling early red carpet experiences “soul-crushing.” She explained that being a teenage girl, in general, is hard enough, especially when it comes to the idea of being scrutinized for one’s body. However, on top of that, the actress was labeled as creating some sort of “revolution” for simply existing in Hollywood as a young woman who doesn’t share the typical body type of other actresses her age. As she continued: 

It was rough, and it certainly isn’t just the fault of the industry. It’s the culture. It’s sad because there was a lot of joy that I missed out on. I had to do a lot of personal work to shift my relationship to my body, and, in a lot of ways, that journey is not done. It’s constant. But it changed a lot for me when I started working with my stylist, Karla Welch. I’ve been with her for almost 10 years.

Ferrera certainly should not have been given this label of being revolutionary for simply representing a body type in Hollywood that was not typically respected or shown on screen. She feels she missed out on some “joy” surrounding being a Hollywood actress at the time due to the way she was treated in the public eye. 

The experience forced her to come to terms with her own insecurities around her body image and as she shared, it made all the difference to her to collaborate with a stylist that really helped her feel confident on red carpets. These days, Ferrera absolutely radiates poise and ease at public events, especially during the press tour for Greta Gerwig’s hit alongside the Barbie cast

As Ferrera ventures into 2024, we’ll continue to talk about the actress’ award season chances for Barbie (and unfortunate snubs). The Mattel movie is now streaming with a Max subscription, and you can also go back in time to Ferrera’s most iconic roles from her early career by watching Ugly Betty, which is among the best shows to binge on Netflix now

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