Danielle Brooks explains why ‘it’s not always easy to discuss body image’

Danielle Brooks opens up about the importance of representation. (Photo: Getty Images; designed by Quinn Lemmers)

it numbers is Yahoo Life’s Body Image series, delving into the journeys of influential and inspiring personalities, exploring what body confidence, body neutrality and self-love mean to them.

Danielle Brooks has embraced her place in the body acceptance movement, calling herself the “voice of the curve” as she’s been in the spotlight. But one of the most important parts of her relationship with her body is keeping herself from being positive about it and not punishing herself for it.

“My goal is to always live authentically in my skin and love the body I have,” she told Yahoo Life. “Do I always win? No. But will I keep working for that goal? Yes. Because that’s a more peaceful place.”

As she is acutely aware of society’s standards for women and their bodies, her handling of the topic goes back to her upbringing and noticing that she doesn’t fit those standards.

“When I was growing up, we didn’t have social media, but we had magazines, we had billboards, you know, the magazines that came to your mom’s women’s clothing house. You were always forced to nail your body image against others. Yes,” she said. “You can’t escape it. … So I think I’ve always known the American standard of beauty and how I always went against that and just became who God made me to be.”

Exploring the dichotomy between what she sees in the media and how she sees herself was something she became interested in, even doing research for her high school essay.

“I took every magazine I could find at Walmart and started flipping through each one to see if I saw myself in any of them. It was so low that I didn’t see myself at all ,” she said, noting that that was around 2007. “That’s why when I was in the industry and the media and everything was interested in who I was and my light started to shine more and people started to take notice, I said, ‘This is my goal to be who I want to meet. ‘”

Brooks first got noticed when he starred in Taystee orange is the new black There, she was credited for representing plus-size black women in a diverse cast. She also showed off her undeniable talent when she played Sophia in the 2015 production. Purple – She will soon reprise the role in the Oprah-produced 2023 film.

In everything she does, Brooks’ biggest goal is to present herself unapologetically in the hope that others who have grown up without representation can relate to her in one way or another.

“With curly hair, dark skin and curvy bodies, whether they look like me or not, if they can identify themselves in what I’m doing, that’s who they really are, then that’s a win,” she says. “It’s always been about being the person I’ve always wanted to see growing up.”

In 2017, Brooks starred in Ryan Bryant’s “I’m Not an Angel” lingerie promo, a mission that was a major accomplishment. Outside of her work on screen or on stage, she became part of a movement she believed in. “There’s been a lot of people responding to this, seeing plus-size women in their skin sexy and unapologetic. And it’s really opened up a lot of doors for people,” she said.

While the representation, acceptance and accessibility of all body types remains a slow process across the fashion industry and beyond, Brooks continues to do her part, using her own platform to share the information that matters to her . She even recently teamed up with Aerie on their latest SMOOTHEZ collection, citing the brand’s ongoing commitment to revealing the unfiltered body as what drew her to it.

“This battle of being unapologetic and loving your skin and loving your body is still so important, it still works, and it should still be talked about, celebrated and reminded every day by these young girls,” she said. “I think it’s even more important to me now that my daughter is turning three and she’s starting to pay more attention to her body.”

In fact, it’s a full-circle moment for Brooks, who will be part of the representation her daughter Fria will see as she grows up—the kind of representation that Brooks herself longed to see as a child.

“I’ve been aware of this all the time, and it’s not gone. Now that I have a daughter, it’s just a magnification, and I think my purpose is magnified as well,” she said. “As she grows, it’s important to remind her that you’re flying, you’re amazing, you’re excited, and every bump, curve, back roll, everything should be perfect.”

She also stressed that it’s okay not to be so positive all the time.

“There’s no growth without pain, so it’s not always easy to discuss body image. Sometimes I don’t want to,” Brooks said. “I think it’s okay to allow myself, because it’s my body, to say, ‘I don’t want to talk about this, I don’t have to.’ Actually, I can allow myself to release my responsibility because it’s my body, if Sometimes I need my own personal therapy, and I have to do the work within myself.”

One of those times was when she just became a new mom and had to come to terms with the way her body evolved.

“I gained 60 pounds with my daughter and after having her I was very frustrated talking about my body because for a long time I called myself ‘the voice of the curve’ and here I am not I wanted to be curvaceous,” she recalls. “I think it’s also important to bring that into the conversation. It’s not always perfect, you don’t always feel pretty, and it’s okay to admit that.”

Today, Brooks is most focused on recognizing that her relationship with her body “is always changing. Every day, every minute, every week,” especially since so much has changed since bringing her daughter into the world. Serving her baby girl and younger self is now her constant.

“We’re all evolving and changing, and I think it’s important to always do what’s right for you. I do know that I’ll always be a mom, and I’ll always be a role model for someone,” she said. “Whether it’s Fria Still a bunch of young girls like me.”

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