"I Had A Very Average-Size Body": America Ferrera Said It's "Insane" She Was Considered "Imperfect" By Hollywood

In an Elle interview for the 2023 Women in Hollywood issue, America Ferrera reflected on the beginning of her career, noting the long-time obsession with her body.

Closeup of her at the Barbie movie premiere
Matt Winkelmeyer / WireImage / Getty Images

You might remember that many of her early roles — including Real Women Have Curves, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and Ugly Betty — led to widespread praise for the actor breaking the typical Hollywood mold.

  Newmarket Releasing / ©Newmarket Releasing/Courtesy Everett Co / Everett Collection
Newmarket Releasing / ©Newmarket Releasing/Courtesy Everett Co / Everett Collection

"What’s so insane is, you go back and look, and I had a very average-size body," she said. "And so the idea that people were looking at me and saying, 'That’s curvy' is crazy."

Her walking with her cast mates in sisterhood of the traveling pants
Warner Bros / ©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

"Not that I care," she continued, "But it’s like, that’s insane that we thought that was so groundbreaking. I was Hollywood’s version of imperfect, which seems so ridiculous."

Her in ugly Betty with braces and glasses
ABC/Courtesy Everett Collection

She added that she's not alone either. "There are so many women who were called brave, just because they are people in bodies."

Closeup of her recently
Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Now, the 39-year-old is focused on the freedom to push back against stereotypes and expectations. "What I continue to wish for my career, and women’s careers and people of color’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."

  Corey Nickols / Getty Images for IMDb
Corey Nickols / Getty Images for IMDb

"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 wearing a long dress and matching gloves for the Barbie movie premiere
Mike Marsland / Mike Marsland / WireImage

America also spoke about her experience as a Latina in Hollywood. She was often the only one in the room or on the cast, and it was deeply isolating. The actor also felt the pressure to be "a model Latina, whom everyone could be proud of."

  Jc Olivera / WireImage
Jc Olivera / WireImage

Now, she's proud to work on Latino projects that "could not have been made" before. For her directorial debut, she's adapting I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, a book by Erika L. Sánchez. "It’s a version of the coming-of-age story that I’ve never seen a young Latina get to inhabit. It’s deeper, more complicated, messy."

The book cover

But she emphasized her desire to explore all kinds of ideas and projects without stereotypical boundaries. "If I’m creatively empowered as an artist, then I have the freedom to decide I’m going to make the movie about rocks, or about birds, or about a space that has nothing to do with my experience as a Latina. Not that there’s anything wrong with those stories — I’ve told those, and I will continue to tell those — but freedom is being able to follow your artistic impulses that are not bound by whatever labels we’ve been attached to our whole lives," she concluded.

Closeup of her in a one-shoulder dress
Image Group La / The Walt Disney Company

You can read the full interview with America here.