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America Ferrera says Hollywood praise of her ‘very average-size body’ was ‘ridiculous’

America Ferrera has spoken candidly about how her body has been viewed in Hollywood.

The actress recently spoke with Elle for its 2023 Women in Hollywood issue, where she talked about how “ridiculous” she thought it was that a lot of her first major acting roles, like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Real Women Have Curves, focused on her body.

“What’s so insane is, you go back and look, and I had a very average-size body. And so the idea that people were looking at me and saying: ‘That’s curvy’ is crazy. Not that I care, but it’s like, that’s insane that we thought that was so groundbreaking,” she told the outlet. “I was Hollywood’s version of imperfect, which seems so ridiculous.”

“I don’t feel alone in that either,” she added. “There are so many women who were called brave, just because they are people in bodies.”

She also used the interview as an opportunity to speak out about race and how it always felt like she was the only Latina in the room. “As a Latina in Hollywood, I always felt like the only one of my kind in the room. I was the only one in the cast, or the only female Latina producer on any given thing I was doing, and I felt further isolated and on my own. And those were barriers that we just had to decide to start breaking down,” Ferrera said.

As for her future in the industry, Ferrera has new plans for her future acting roles that don’t involve being based on stereotypes. “What I continue to wish for my career, and women’s careers and people of colour’s careers, is that we don’t have to exist inside of these boxes or these lanes - that we don’t have to be relegated to represent just the thing that the culture wants us to represent,” she said.

Ferrera continued: “I want to be more of who I am as a person, and to get to make art that doesn’t fit into any of the boxes and isn’t about the dominant conversation people have wanted to have about me because I’m a woman who doesn’t fit into stereotypical Hollywood.”

Her recent appearance in the Barbie movie this past summer would be an example of one such role. Not only is her character Gloria the only female employee at Mattel, but she’s also a mother to a moody teenage daughter named Sasha, played by Ariana Greenblatt.

Towards the end of the film, Barbie is seen grappling with an existential crisis brought on by feelings of worthlessness. But it’s Ferrera’s poignant monologue that gets Robbie’s character out of her funk, and which touched the thousands who saw the Barbie movie on opening weekend.

In the scene, Gloria admits that she’s “so tired” of watching herself and “every single other woman tie herself into knots so that people will like us”. “And if all of that is also true for a doll just representing women, then I don’t even know,” she concluded.

The Barbie monologue highlighted the many double standards and contradictions that women face in a patriarchal society, which is why thousands of fans took to social media to praise the powerful message.