Sunday, October 4, 2009

Exclusive Interview with Fluvia Lacerda

I had the pleasure of meeting the Brazilian bombshell, Fluvia Lacerda, while I was living in New York City. This gorgeous plus size model, whose popularity is consistently growing, is just as sweet as she is beautiful. She's hugely celebrated in her native country, but with tons of recent campaigns in the US and Europe, she's no longer just a hometown hero. In this interview with YFF, she talks about being born with self-esteem, where we'll see her next, and Brazil's need for change.


How would you describe your personal style?
I'm a "mix and match" meets "hippie beach-y" type of person. I love vintage with new modern, structured pieces as well those unique, very beach/nature pieces you'll find during travels to places like Mexico or Vanuatu. So I guess in other words I don't have set rules, I have a very flexible mindset when it comes to most things, including fashion.

How did you start modeling?
I was in a crosstown bus in Manhattan when a woman who worked for MODE Magazine approached me asking if I had ever considered working a plus size model. I thought it was a joke, for all I knew to be a model you had to be skin and bones and that was definitely not my body type. So she went on to explain to me that there were agencies out there with divisions dedicated to plus size models and it was a growing industry. A few months later I decided to start investigating and decided to give it a try.

What are the cultural differences between Brazil and the United States when it comes to body image?
For starters, Brazil is ranked the number one country in plastic surgery procedures in the world. For many years we held the number one ranking in diet pill consumption as well, but we recently lost that position to the USA. I think that alone speaks volumes.

Although the whole Brazilian culture is aimed towards getting the so called perfect body, walking down the streets of Brazil you don't often see the "Gisele" types, if ever. I believe as a very mixed race people (Europeans, Africans and Native South Americans), we have wide hips, round butts, and round thighs. It doesn't mean we're meant to be overweight, but we're definitely not meant to be a size zero either. It's for the most part our genetic make up, and I think that's a hard thing to change. Nevertheless, people are obsessed with being super thin, and women I know back home will do absolutely anything to fit into a mold that they simply won't ever achieve with a healthy process. Sadly that is now perceived as acceptable, meaning it's okay to harm your health in the process of achieving the so-called "ideal body." Women go through surgical procedures to change their looks like they're going for a walk in the park, it's just insane how that's viewed as normal there.

Brazilians live in a complete denial about our genetic reality and the need for a more suitable fashion sizing for women there. I feel that in the US and Europe women voice their needs, likes and dislikes a lot more than they do back home (hopefully that will change) and that actually influences the fashion industry a great deal. I believe that is why here women have a lot more choices as far as sizing and fits than they do in Brazil.

Speaking of that, I have had so many Brazilian readers ask me about where to find plus size clothing that ships to Brazil! Do you have any shopping tips for them?
Oh I get those emails too, by the hundreds! But that's the thing, there aren't too many labels and I think the few that have been created are still working on the aspects of quality, fit and so on. But the investment in that sector still falls short an incredible amount and believe me the demand exists, and that's really what I don't get. Women in Brazil who wear sizes 14 and above will pay absolutely anything for something that fits them half decently, yet the majority of the fashion industry turns a blind eye, lacking the understanding that one, they're losing millions of bucks and two, turning blind eye will never make us go away or suddenly disappear! In my opinion it's just a huge lack of business vision and I have said that on national television shows there as well. I've heard I started a revolution!

Since Brazil does not openly embrace plus sizes, how did you maintain a healthy self-esteem?
It's a very double-edged situation to be honest. Although, as I said before, the majority of women in Brazil are much curvier than what is portrayed to the rest of the world, they live under that ridiculous pressure to become thin in order to be accepted or valued. I heard all those "do this diet, do that lipo" lines growing up, as if it were normal. Meanwhile, I was probably the healthiest out of all my friends. But in a way I believe I was kind of born immune to that whole lack of self-esteem or vulnerability to the pressure. I suppose it comes with growing up really poor, and not having much to begin with--I have always just been grateful for being healthy and alive. I'm very hyper, I'm always moving around and I could never picture how horrific it would be to be stuck in a wheelchair or laying on a bed suffering some hardcore illness. So I pretty much never gave a rat's ass about the comments, I lived my life and had fun, put my bikinis on with everything hanging out for the world to see, and while they were busy pointing the finger or giving me the looks, I was pretty busy living my life.

Which photo shoot/campaign was the most fun to work on?
Oh that's a hard one! I have so much fun at shoots, especially the ones that allow me to be creative. And lately I have been lucking out with jobs that do allow me all the freedom to play around and work on more theatrical posing and movements, I really love that.

What are your future goals in modeling?
I'm very grateful with what I've achieved so far. For a girl who came from such a poor background and worked hard to achieve a better life for myself and my family in America with jobs like housekeeping, cleaning restaurant floors and the likes, I'm just very thrilled to have had a chance in the modeling business. But I take one day at the time, no big plans, I just go where the wind takes me.

What are you currently working on?
I'm working on a incredible project with Igigi, which I can't really disclose but it's pretty awesome and I hope everyone will like it. I'm also incredibly excited to have gained a great deal of exposure under the spotlight in my native land, Brazil. Being named "the plus size version of Gisele" isn't a small thing, and I'm using it very wisely towards new projects, the acceptance has been overwhelming! There will be some really fantastic major magazine shoots. I'm really just aiming to change people's perception in regards of diversity of beauty there and I've been working hard to achieve that.

So aside from your project with Igigi, where can we expect to see you in the coming months?
I've been having a truly busy past few months. During these past 2 weeks, for example, I traveled to four different cities in 5 days and then went on to other countries! There is nothing too glamorous about being tired and sleeping on airport floors but it comes with the job.

You'll find me on the new Monif C. fall campaign, we shot amazingly hot and sexy images. I'm also the new face for Sydney's Closet, Biluzik, Kmart, Sears and a few German companies. Now I'm starting to shoot some campaigns for spring/summer in Europe. In Brazil, we just had an awesome short documentary featuring my work and lifestyle as the only Brazilian plus size model working out here so successfully, it was showcased on a major network channel. We filmed during a week period as the TV crew followed around showing my life as a model and I'm filming more of those TV segments over the next two months for different shows there.

What's the best part about your job?
I would say traveling to many different locations is one of the coolest parts of being a model. You get to learn about different cultures, meet new people and learn new things. It's definitely a mind-opening experience.

What advice would you give to aspiring plus size models?
First off, get the information straight in regards of what this business is about. Sometimes girls become hungry for an idea that actually isn't true. Modeling is hard work, takes determination, lots of focus, maturity and tough skin to take all the negative comments and feedback. You must have an open mind about what might happen, so it takes a lot of determination and certainty that that's what you really want.

Treat modeling as a business, never fail to be polite, courteous and polished. If you act negatively, you'll be always remembered by that. Look for a reputable agency, listen to your agent, be professional and punctual. You'll be judged by all those things as well as your abilities as a model. Work out to maintain a toned body, take care of your skin, teeth and hair. Don't focus on what everyone else is doing, not everyone is going to book all clients, so keep your eyes on your road, stay positive and upbeat, a smile goes a long way.

14 comments:

  1. I love her because she is so beautiful and strong. I also like how she represents a different type of beauty in her country. Everyone knows Gisele and others like her, but now people are getting to know Fluvia.

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  2. She's absolutely gorgeous, and I like her positive plus size thinking! Thanks for the great interview!!

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  3. I have been a big fan of Fluvia's for years. When I launched my plus size fashion website, www.beautypluspower.com in 2004, she was one of the first models featured in it and continued to be featured in countless of our future editorials and projects. She was even the cover model for our 2007 plus model calendar "LUSCIOUS". In Crystal Renn's book "Hunry" she talked about wanting to be a high style, fashion forward plus model, and that's exactly what Fluvia is. You can't make that girl dowdy if you tried. Love ya Fluvs!

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  4. I´m really proud of Fluvia, because I´ve follow her career from the very beggining and know how hard she work to be where she is now.
    All the situation she described about Brazil we have it in Venezuela, not diferent at all in anything. Maybe in her country people is not unhuman, hatefull and ignorant as they are in mine (Venezuela). That´s why as her I have so much passion and love to do what I do and push the envelope until I open the plus size market here.

    Congrats to you for the interview and my respect and reverence to Fluvita and her work.

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  5. Great interview with a truly charismatic and inspiring person!

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  6. wow, amazing interview! she is truly a beautiful woman inside and out!!

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  7. yay! i'll link to this, Gabz...good interview.

    love
    nati

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  8. Great interview! And what an inspiration she is!

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  9. WHAT A WOMAN. so my question is: why isn't she more popular than crystal renn? This woman has BOMBSHELL written all over her. Thank you for the wonderful interview, and what an inspiration!

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  10. Modelling is hard work and nobody knows it. Everybody thinks it's easy and I should know.
    And God Fluvia is so beautiful ! That's what I call A WOMAN.

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