Why Danielle Brooks’ essay is so important to the body image conversation

Actress Danielle Brooks is making waves in Hollywood.

Best known for her role as Tasha “Tastee” Jefferson on the Netflix series Orange is the New Black, Brooks is now enjoying a level of professional success that few actors get to experience. And she recently revealed that she’s enjoying another kind of success, one that is much more personal and universal: She’s learned to make peace with her body, something that so many girls and women fight to do every day.

Brooks courageously discusses this journey towards self-love and acceptance in a recent essay she penned for Glamour. In the essay, she reveals her specific body-image challenges as a curvy black woman whose body type does not fit societal beauty ideals. She also addresses these challenges within the context of her working in Hollywood, where the most successful actresses are often thin and white.

Brooks’ essay brings an incredibly necessary voice to the body acceptance movement in Hollywood. Many celebrities are now speaking out in favor of body acceptance, but we usually only hear the perspectives of white actresses. Of course, their voices are important, but they are not the only voices that need to be heard. Race, gender, age, physical ability, and a host of other factors influence a person’s feelings about his or her body. Brooks talks about her struggle to find confidence as a black woman, citing her past insecurities about her skin color and hair in addition to those about her body size.

People of all backgrounds will likely find Brooks’ essay to be extremely relatable. We’re all fighting the same war against the media’s one strict definition of beauty. However, we’re all fighting our own unique battles within that war. These battles depend on our own individual backgrounds and experiences, and it’s important to shed light on all of these different kinds of battles.

Brooks writes that she has traveled a “long road” to gaining the body confidence she now has.  If we continue to show and tell the stories of people of all races, backgrounds, and body types, maybe future generations will not have to travel that road.  Maybe they’ll grow up with that confidence within themselves and be able to travel other roads. Who knows where those roads will take them and what they can accomplish?

Haley Bierman is a recent college graduate working in theatre administration. She is extremely passionate about the arts, pop culture, and feminism. She enjoys Netflix, playing her ukulele, and hearing others’ viewpoints about the world we live in.

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