“Euphoria” controversy involving Barbie Ferreira destroys character growth and fat representation

By Mikayla Silcox

Elm Staff Writer

On Aug. 24, 2022, actress Barbie Ferreira announced her departure from “Euphoria,” leaving her character Kat absent for the show’s third season.

While this news may come as a shock to some fans, Ferreira’s recent disputes with producer Sam Levinson showed that her leave may not have been coincidental. From season one to two, Ferreira’s screen time had been cut, an act stemming from her disagreement with Levinson’s direction of her character, in which he allegedly wanted to give Kat an eating disorder.

Like many others in the cutthroat, diet-cultured, perfectionist society we live in today, Ferreira struggled wit body issues and insecurities as a young kid.

According to a video interview with NowThis Entertainment, Ferreira’s body became subject to dieting for her modeling career at age 16.

Her character, Kat, was meant to go against societal norms, especially in television, where the ‘big girl’ is often given the role of comedic relief, instead of a character of substance and confidence.

With the introduction of an eating disorder, Levinson’s intended plotline would have worked against the body positivity Kat’s character worked the first two seasons to build up.

Kat gave viewers reason to believe that no matter where they came from or what their body looked like, they too did not have to conform to anything or hide in their body.

The plotline would have been a betrayal to everything Kat worked towards in the first two seasons. Ferreira rightfully wanted to fight against Levinson’s intentions for the characters.

Although her role as a sex worker was a controversial way of confronting insecurity, Ferreira showed that there are many ways one can be empowered and take control of their body.

Through Kat’s makeup evolution throughout the show, Ferreira wanted to present how allowing yourself to be the center of attention, even when you are insecure, can serve as a catalyst to confidence.

In an interview with Evening Standard magazine, Ferreira said, “I remember reading and auditioning for it and being like, this character is someone that I know. The energy levels and the characterization and the mannerisms are different, but events leading up to the big things have parallels to me.”

Ferreira juxtaposed her personal makeup and modeling career to that of Kat’s work as a sex worker. By applying the aspects of her makeup in the show, Ferreira included even more inspiration for young and insecure viewers. These points of assertiveness go beyond the focal point of weight, showing that the shape of one’s body is not an indicator for success in self-love.

Ferreira posted a goodbye statement on her Instagram saying, “I hope many of you could see yourself in her like I did and that she brought you joy to see her journey into the character she is today. I put all my care and love into her.”

Finding identity was an important part of the character, so the implementation of an eating disorder counteracted everything Kat worked to build, and Ferreira wanted to leave Kat in a positive light of her confidence journey.

Additionally, by giving Kat an eating disorder, Levinson would take away from the confidence arc, and reduce Kat’s character to the stereotypical ‘unconventional’ character, with an unnecessary focus on her weight and eating habits, other than her development.

Shows like “Friends”paint characters’ weight as a sole indicator of their state of mind. Before Monica lost weight, she was deemed unpopular and a joke. Kat is proud of her appearance, and this trait is used to inspire viewers to love themselves and accept their bodies.

Ferreira left “Euphoria” while Kat was still able to have a positive impact on young viewers. Her departure served as both a critique to Levinson and his eye for raw subjects and a compliment to Ferreira and the character, for managing to stay a role model for people insecure in their bodies.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo Caption: HBO’s “Euphoria” has faced many controversies for its portrayal of teen characters. Now, with actress Barbie Ferreira departing the show, viewers wonder why she left and how the show will continue without her character.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.