THRIVHER INTERVIEW: Stefania Ferrario

Updated: Apr 26



Achievements:

  • Currently the face of a lingerie line by Dita Von Teese for Australian department store Myer

  • Previously worked with Gok Wan for Target (Australia) and other Australian brands such as Sportsgirl and Berlei. 

  • Overseas she has worked for Italian stores Fiorella Rubino, Flow clothing in Malaysia and Swimsuits For All.

  • In 2012 Ferrario shaved her hair off to raise money and awareness for cancer, alopecia and trichotillomania.



Quick Questions:


Can’t start the day without: It’s terrible but I can’t start the day without rolling over in bed, grabbing my phone and looking at social media. It’s an addiction and I definitely need to balance it out a little bit more.

Go-to coffee or tea: A cappuccino, extra hot.

Best read of all time for personal growth: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck”, by Mark Manson. It’s a brilliant read and I’m not a big reader.

Favourite quote: “There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion” - Sir Francis Bacon. I think it’s beautiful because it’s saying that it’s your uniqueness that makes you beautiful.

Top music track that gets you pumped for a task or the day: Billy Idol. 80’s Cradle of Love.

Most afraid of: Being buried alive!

Go-to for fun: Getting in the baggiest of outfits and watching a movie!




Right now, you’re living your mission and your dream. Looking back, when did you first realise thAT MODELLING was going to become your future?

There were definitely signs throughout my childhood and when I was growing up. I always loved performing and being photographed. I loved to take center stage in front of a camera. However, it wasn’t until I was 16 that I decided that I really wanted to go for modeling and pursue it relentlessly. I had this gut feeling of needing to just go for it, so I did!



Were your parents supportive of your decision to pursue modelling at the time?

My parents are both academics; my Mum is Head of Maths at Australian National University and my Dad is a Scientific Illustrator, so neither really have any interest in fashion or the modelling industry. My Dad being an artist and in the creative realm perhaps understood it more, but they really didn’t get it in the beginning. I was enrolled to study Languages at Australian National University, but instead I decided to move to Melbourne and follow my dream! More and more now, my parents are warming up to it and being really being supportive of my career.



What were the very first steps you took in pursuit of your dream?

I started off by asking around and putting feelers out, trying to find out how to get started in the industry. Someone introduced me to a photographer who was able to take a set of photographs of me – it cost $800 and I had to borrow the money from my Dad. That bought me about eight photographs, which formed the beginning of my portfolio. From there I just kept building it up over the years. It took me years to actually break into the industry properly. It’s a pretty ruthless industry to work in – especially since there was very little body diversity in models at the time, so it was tough to get my foot in the door.





Did you pursue modelling full-time, or did you have to do other jobs to support yourself?

Yes I did have to work alongside, at first I worked in a fruit and veg store to save up some money. Then I moved to Melbourne but no work came in for almost a year and I actually became a stripper for a while, which I absolutely loved! I had a lot of fun – I was sensible and took precautions of course, but it felt very empowering.



You mentioned entering the industry at a time when there was little body diversity did you face any particular challenges in relation to body size or image?

When I was 16 and trying to get my foot in the door, I weighed over 20 kilos less than I am now. I was virtually underweight and yet I was still told I needed to lose more weight. So I developed this idea that I needed to be underweight if I wanted to make it in the modeling industry. I went to extremes and tried things that I shouldn’t have, which was really bad for my body and my health. I actually ended up slowly putting on weight because I was a teenager and still growing. There were so many points in my career when I thought I was never going to make it and perhaps I should just accept that. But I loved it so much, I just kept going and eventually I was accepted. But to get there I had to knock on so many doors and was subjected to hearing terrible things about myself and the way I looked. Now that I’m in the industry and I’ve made it, it feels so liberating and empowering – being accepted as I am has really helped my body confidence and it’s a great feeling!



It feels so liberating and empowering – being accepted as I am has really helped my body confidence and it’s a great feeling!


How did you learn to overcome personal criticism and what strategies helped you get back up and restore your faith in your mission?

I think just telling myself that people’s opinions don’t really matter and that I shouldn’t take them personally, because they’re not really about me. More often than not it’s problems within the industry and within society in general. So I’d say that not taking things personally is crucial, it's so hard to not take things personally, but you’ve just got to keep reminding yourself that you shouldn’t.


I think that every time you get knocked down and have to get back up again, it makes you a little bit stronger. The setbacks and rejections make your skin tougher and make you a stronger person overall.


The setbacks and rejections make your skin tougher and make you a stronger person overall.


Was there a specific turning point when you realised you needed to embrace your body shape rather than fight against it?

I think it was more of a gradual acceptance. There wasn’t really one moment, I suppose my body gradually changed and I didn’t really have a choice in that. I had to change my mindset and accept myself as I am.



I had to change my mindset and accept myself as I am.

Did you have any mentors or people who supported you along the way?Yes, I definitely had support, from lots of different people. My dad was always supportive, then there was Peter Coulson, a photographer in Melbourne. He really took me under his wing and helped me. One of my first jobs was for Dita Von Teese and she was just incredibly supportive from the very beginning and made me feel absolutely beautiful in her lingerie. There were so many people along the way who supported me and whom I have to thank for helping me get to where I am today.



What has been the biggest “pinch me now” moment of your career so far?

I think working with Gok Wan, a British stylist, in 2013 on my first ever job, which was a set of national commercials for Target. He was absolutely lovely and I just couldn’t believe it - it was a dream come true. Another “pinch me” moment is whenever I model alongside Dita Von Teese for her lingerie line. It’s really exciting and I can’t quite believe it’s happening!



If there was one piece of advice that you could have given yourself when you were first started pursuing your modelling career, what would it be?

I think to just keep going and keep believing in yourself, because where there’s a will, there’s always a way! I really do think that when you believe, you can achieve anything. It’s just a matter of not giving up. If I had taken that advice when I was younger, I’m sure I would have accelerated much faster into the industry and perhaps achieved more by this stage. And maybe I would not have had to go through so much heartache and pain, or had to suffer with body image issues anywhere near as much.


When you believe, you can achieve anything. It’s just a matter of not giving up.


For women who want to make a positive change in their life but don’t know where to start, what advice can you give?

There are so many expectations of what a woman should be, how she should look, how she should present herself and what she should do as her career or job. What I want to say is that, as a woman, you should not succumb to those pressures from society and from other people. You should be absolutely and completely true to yourself - that is the most beautiful thing and you will be accepted in the end. You should never feel like you need to conform.


You should be absolutely and completely true to yourself - that is the most beautiful thing and you will be accepted in the end.

Check out Stefania here - Represented by Bella Management here


JOIN OUR COMMUNITY OF WOMEN & THRIVE!

Thrivhers is a platform to inspire and encourage us all to take action on our big, bold and brilliant ambitions. If you're ready, join us! We want you to succeed.

Your inbox inspiration starts here.

  • Black Instagram Icon
  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black LinkedIn Icon