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OITNB star says media needs to represent full-figured woman

In this Sept. 26, 2016 photo, actress Danielle Brooks, from "Orange is the New Black" and the Broadway musical, "The Color Purple," poses for a portrait in New York. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Invision/AP)
September 29, 2016 - 12:55 PM

NEW YORK - If you check Danielle Brooks' Instagram account, you'll see plenty of poses that ooze self-confidence, from shots of the "Orange is the New Black" star in glamorous outfits to a selfie of her with her midriff exposed.

But full-figured Brooks says it has taken some mind manipulation to get her to feel as happy with herself as the vibe she projects.

"I kind of like tricked myself into this love, and positive affirmations that I have for myself, whichhas been really good," said Brooks. "I don't wanna walk around this world feeling like I don't feel worthy, or I don't feel like I'm beautiful because society has shown me that I am not enough, because they don't put me on the cover on the magazines or I don't see myself reflected in media enough."

Brooks is doing her part to make that change happen. The actress, who was nominated for a Tony for her role in the revival of "The Color Purple" on Broadway, has teamed with Refinery29 for its campaign to make full-figured women more visible in media.

"I think that we have a long way to go, but I think we are gonna now start to see a big shift in the change in media, in magazines, on the fashion runways, on our screens, in television," she said.

The "67 Per cent " project aims to showcase more women who are over a size 14; the website says the majority of women in the United States, or 67 per cent, are in that size range. Brooks has been the face of the campaign, which launched this week.

Brooks, who is also a spokeswoman for the clothing line Lane Bryant, said that when she first gained fame for her role on the award-winning Netflix series, she couldn't find any designer willing to dress her for major award shows.

"It was very difficult to find a dress that I felt represented who I am that wasn't black or blue or a plain Jane dress," she said. "Like, I wanna wear cutouts, I wanna wear the bells and whistles, and just all the different kind of textures that other girls get to wear."

Christian Siriano came to her rescue and has become her go-to designer. But she added: "I'm looking to wear a plethora of different designers. I want to walk on a carpet and get to wear Prada or Gucci or whatever that might be, and so, I feel like they need to step up. It's time, we're here."

Brooks said that when she flaunts her confident self in public, it reverberates with her fans, who then send her messages that they feel more confident with their bodies as well.

"When a woman doesn't see themselves represented enough ... you feel unimportant, you feel like there has to be something wrong with me," she said. "But then you come across a program or a project like the 67 Per cent project with Refinery29 and you are now seeing yourself and you realize, 'Oh, more than half the world looks like me! I'm not the problem here.'"

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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