Johannesburg – Fluvia Lacerda has little problem with being labelled a plus-size model.
In fact, the curvaceous Brazilian loves being boxed in this category, especially since a debate has been raging in the modelling industry for the past year about the categorisation of models by size.
Several models and celebrities around the world have even joined forces to create the #droptheplus campaign, a movement to ban the term “plus size” from the modelling and the retail world.
Proponents of dropping the plus argue that including everyone in a single term would help move the world closer to empowerment and body positivity.
But Lacerda does not see it this way. She’d be disappointed if the term was banned from the modelling and retail world.
“I don’t get why people in the industry seem to be so offended by it or so desperate to be included in just the model’ bag,” Lacerda says.
“Yes, I am a model. That’s how I pay my bills. But I model clothes for women who have a hard time finding clothes in the average shop.
“It’s simple – and really no big deal,” says the 36-year-old from Rio de Janeiro who is now living in New York.
Lacerda, known as the Gisele Bündchen of plus-size models and ranked one of the top 10 in the world, has been in South Africa for the past two weeks for the rebranding and launch of the summer range of the plus-size label Donna, formerly Donna Claire.
The brand has hired the Brazilian as its spokeswoman and as an ambassador.
The bombshell is also here to raise awareness around women’s rights and body-shaming issues.
She is well known around the globe as an outspoken activist against body-shaming and gives advice to those experiencing body image issues.
“We as women do not embrace our diversity,” says Lacerda, who got her big break in the modelling industry in 2002 after a fashion magazine editor approached her on a bus in New York.
“We sell the idea really well – we talk the talk, but do not walk the walk. There’s a need for women to understand there’s a beautiful quality to your individuality.
“It would be nice to get women to be happy and content with their bodies, just the way they are. To have the confidence to say, I’m going to wear that bikini I never had the courage to wear, or invest in a beautiful dress I can show off.”
In the luxurious African Pride Hotel in Melrose Arch, Lucerda makes herself comfortable in an armchair. She oozes confidence and wears her experience well, like a much-loved coat.
When modelling was suggested to her in 2002, she thought it was a prank.
“I didn’t know there was an entire industry dedicated to plus-sized women. It took me more than a month to join an agency because I thought someone was messing with me.”
Lacerda took to the ramp six months later. She says confidence is one of the keys to success.
“You have to be secure, sure of who you are, and have a strong sense of self worth because it is a ruthless industry.
“You deal with a lot of tough circumstances. There is lots of criticism, so it’s not for the faint-hearted.”
Where does Lacerda get her confidence from?
“I think I was just born that way. To be fair, it’s a combo of things, like the way I was raised, my mindset and my nature.
“I’ve never really gone into that whole wheel of paranoia, like most women do. I just did my own thing and lived according to my rules, and it’s worked so far.”
Although she was nervous and a little shy during her first shoot, she has no problem posing in revealing lingerie.
“Being a larger woman should never take away from what it means to be a woman – feminine, beautiful, powerful, seductive, sexyâ€¦ all these things any woman should be able to express in how she dresses.
“The days of wearing oversized men’s T-shirts are over, ladies. No more hiding – let’s flaunt it!”
– Saturday Star