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I Was Too Dark, Too Curly, Too Fat.” OITNB Star Danielle Brooks Discusses How Low Self Image Led to Suicidal Thoughts

Avatar • May 12, 2015
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Glamour.com

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?

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Tabatha
Tabatha
5 years ago

I totally get what she was saying. I was raised around Whites and Latinos, so I was always the odd one out then to add to it I was super short, Chubby (Until I joined Cheerleading), and I had textured hair that everyone wanted to touch. Then from extended family I was ridiculed because I spoke proper English I walked with my shoulders back and my head up and I didn’t slouch or put my elbows on the dinner table, so I was trying to be “white”. No sorry my parents instilled etiquette, culture, and manners; so sorry that yours… Read more »

Ahyana Coleman
Ahyana Coleman
5 years ago
Reply to  Tabatha

All I did is read your comment and you sound boojie to me …

Cre8ive
Cre8ive
5 years ago

Whoo chile! She looks great! So glad she has “found her happy” and is looking beautiful on her journey.

melissa
melissa
5 years ago

Yes to this article!!! BGLH you rock!

EllieLo
EllieLo
5 years ago

Don’t even start. She’s perfectly within her rights to do whatever makes her happy. She’s an adult and can make her own decisions (whether or not they make YOU happy).
There’s nothing wrong with choosing straight hairstyles. I may be natural, I may be coily/kinky and proud, but I would never judge someone by what they choose to do with their hair. That’s such a childish thing to do, tbh.…

kalexa1
kalexa1
5 years ago
Reply to  EllieLo

Well EllieLo I DID start, so.…. Just like you point out, everyone’s entitled to their own decisions, and that of course includes deciding what to think! lol. If you don’t like my view that’s too bad.

EllieLo
EllieLo
5 years ago
Reply to  kalexa1

There’s a difference between what you think and what you choose to share with the world. You’re within your rights to think as you wish and not be judged, but whenever you put those thoughts into words, be ready to get fired on.
Freedom of speech does NOT guarantee freedom to be a b*tch on the internet. Nor does it protect you from people calling you out on your BS.

Your words were truly childish and have no place here. She’s happy with herself, don’t sit here and bring petty, spiteful negativity to a positive place. Grow up.

kalexa1
kalexa1
5 years ago

I see she ‘sorted’ the too curly problem.

Yessss!!!
Yessss!!!
5 years ago

This one’s for the brothers…dang!!!!!

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