Orange is the New Black star, Danielle Brooks, recently opened up about her struggles with body image to Glamour. In the self-penned post, the star divulges how discomfort with her size, hair texture and skin tone led her to contemplate suicide:
I wasn’t able to wear the flared jeans and cute tops the other girls wore—they didn’t come in my size. On top of that, I was dark-skinned and had natural hair. By the standard definition of beauty I had absorbed from the world around me, I had three strikes against me: I was too dark, too curly, and too fat.
Because of this insecurity, I was desperately unhappy. I was even having suicidal thoughts. But you wouldn’t have known it. The world saw a young teenage girl who was happy in her skin, laughed a lot, and didn’t care what anyone thought about her. The truth of the matter was I wasn’t happy in my skin; I laughed to hide my pain, and cared deeply what my peers thought of my appearance—to the point that I even was having suicidal thoughts. But you wouldn’t have known it.
Brooks also discusses how acting helped her in her journey to self-acceptance:
I dreamed of being an actor, but when I looked for reflections of myself on the screen, I found few. Still, I found inspiration in the words of Sharon Flake and the music of India Arie. I took acting classes, where I felt free and accepted. Free to let out the biggest screams, to roll around the floor like a cat, and to cry sloppy tears without being judged. Accepted by this tribe of fellow performers, unique individuals who valued me for my talent and my boldness and not for what I looked like (or didn’t look like). In acting I found my confidence, my joy, my safe place.
Given the past occurrences of highly visible suicides amongst women of color, it’s pertinent that dialog around this topic remains as transparent and safe as possible. We applaud Danielle for her courage in speaking out about her past struggles with self-image and suicide and we encorage this conversation to continue in our community.
Read the rest of Danielle’s essay here.
Can you relate to Danielle’s story? How do you feel the dialogue around this subject should be structured?