Danielle Brooks is an American plus size actress know for her role in the popular hit TV series Orange Is The New Black. She has never been quiet about the struggles she faces as a plus-size woman in Hollywood. In April, she spoke out about the difficulty she has trying to find a decent dress in her size. In September, she talked about the pressure she faces as a black, curvy woman.
She recently wrote an essay for Refinery29 that calls on magazines, designers and retailers to step it up and start considering and including plus-size women.
The essay begins with Brooks receiving a fashion magazine with Michelle Obama on the cover. Like all of us would be, she’s thrilled, but as she flips through its pages, she notices that very, very few women look like her.
“In the entire 330-page issue, there are only two women whose bodies look like mine,” Brooks wrote. “Less than 1%. That’s it. At most, plus-size women make up 2% of media images, when in America, those above a size 14 make up 67% of women. In what world is that diversity?”
Brooks said she was even more confused after realizing that all of the editors-in-chief of these fashion magazines — from Vogue to Elle to Glamour — are women. You’d think we’d all be unanimous about this idea that body diversity is important, but no.
“Most of these publications and their readers would argue that women should be paid the same as their male counterparts,” Brooks wrote. “We’re allowed to make noise about that. But when it comes to equal representation in these pages, we go quiet. We simply aren’t supporting one another like we should.”
“I remember the day Lane Bryant launched its I’m No Angel campaign, blasting images of plus women across TV screens, billboards, even subway cars,” Brooks wrote. “I walked around with my head held a little higher, my strut a little firmer and my smile a little brighter. I saw myself in those women. As arbitrary as it may seem, it gave me permission to be proud of my body.”
As Brooks later explains, body diversity in fashion is important for her because she’s experienced first-hand what it’s like to go so long without seeing a woman like herself in fashion, and then finally getting a campaign that praises and respects bodies like hers.
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