As the face (and figure) of Elena Mirò—the most progressive full-figured fashion retailer in the world—Barbara Brickner has appeared in some of the most beautiful and culturally significant promotional campaigns ever conceived. In the process, she has arguably done more to revive the Classical ideal of feminine beauty than any other plus-size model.
The following is an English translation of an interview with Mrs. Brickner that appears in the current issue (Fall/Winter 2004) of Elena Mirò’s eponymous custom magazine. The accompanying images are examples of Mrs. Brickner’s acclaimed work for this visionary Italian company.
Barbara Brickner has been a successful model for over ten years, and thanks to her charming smile and her elegance, is considered the world’s best plus-size model. To sit across from her is a feast for the eyes, but the radiance of her personality is even more dazzling than her smile.
Beauty and radiance together create a marvellous aura around this young woman, whose personality breathes determination, and awareness of her allure. Her attitude shines through her smile, which enchants the camera as well as the viewer.
In addition to being a successful model, Barbara is also a new mother. Rebecca was born in 2001, and Barbara often brings her along on her travels. It is difficult to reconcile the role of mother with that of a career, but anything is possible when you’re doing something you’re passionate about.
Seeing the confidence and grace with which Barbara moves, it is easy to appreciate how a woman’s beauty can be revealed in her soft curves. Her positive attitude, which also defines her life’s work, is an inspiration for many girls and young women who might consider their bodies a “problem.”
Dear friends, just look at Barbara, and you will be convinced that the opposite is true!
MA: When and how did you begin your modeling career?
BB: I was timidly starting out as a singer in Seattle when Bill Heffner asked if I would be interested in modelling ”large size” clothing. I was really offended; I took “large size” as a negative comment. Don’t you think it sounds bad, said that way?
My impulse was to bark an irritated “No thanks,” followed by a headlong rush to the nearest McDonald’s for food. But this encounter unsettled me, and stayed on my mind for several days.
A few weeks later, I met with Bill in his office and saw all his photos of stunning women, all with figures just like mine, and with my measurements. I was proud to number myself among such women!
MA: What do you like about your work as a model, and what would you change?
BB: What I like best about this work is that I speak with my body when I pose, and my body always responds marvelously. Then too, this work has given me confidence. I feel beautiful and know I’m looking my best whatever the dress size, and despite the fact that fashion idealizes another type of woman. I’m pleased that things are beginning to change in this sense, and that I am in some small way one of the originators of this change. One thing I wish would change, though, is the faintly supercilious expression popular among the fashion adepts who deal with regular sizes. It’s so annoying.
MA: What advice would you give someone who wants to break into plus-size modelling?
BB: I’d advise them to be patient, to always be themselves, to appreciate being the way they are and to love themselves just as they are, and not try to achieve an unreal ideal of what a woman should look like. Don’t be afraid to dare, to ask, to try; the important thing is to always be real. This is something that others will sense in you. Don’t renounce yourselves, or what you are, for anyone or anything.
I would love to stay and talk with her endlessly, but the stylist and the photographer demand her presence, and now Barbara’s smiles are all for them.
(Mara Antonaccio—from Elena Mirò, Fall/Winter 2004.)
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