7 Samira Wiley Quotes About Body Positivity From Her Mimi Interview
From Dascha Polanco to Lea DeLaria, almost all of the cast members of Orange Is The New Black have been outspoken about body positive and feminist issues. But November's Samira Wiley interview with Mimi (a new online beauty destination) just confirmed her as my personal favorite. Heck, she even knocked Natasha Lyonne from the top spot in my heart, which, TBH, she'd occupied largely because of her performance in But I'm A Cheerleader.
Wiley's body positivity extends not only to herself, but to many intersectional movements and different kinds of people. As her fellow cast member Dascha Polanco confirmed in the same Mimi interview, "As a friend, as a cast mate, [Wiley's] very accepting of everyone."
Throughout the interview, Wiley delved into all the different aspects that make up the person and role model she is today, from the basics like family and her work as an actress to more intimate issues like her natural hair and her lesbianism.
Instead of shying away from or brushing off these topics, Wiley comes at them all with a positivity and openness that deserve serious kudos. By acknowledging her position as a role model, she uses her space and words to inspire self love in all fans that love and look up to her. Here are seven moments of body positivity from the interview.
1. "These women are sexy and they look like other women — they look like the people that are watching them."
In the interview, Wiley recognized her own thin privilege while admitting to becoming "more aware of Hollywood" after an incident on set of a photo shoot, during which a dresser implied she should have her images Photoshopped afterwards. Instead of focusing on her own issues with the unachievable goals set by the media, she focuses instead on the positive impact of the differing and diverse body types on Orange Is The New Black.
2. "I do love myself, and what we need to strive for is young people loving themselves [too]."
I love that Wiley's self love mission isn't just about herself, but about inspiring that same self love in everyone — especially in young people, who are arguably going through the hardest time when it comes to discovering confidence. But the importance of self love is about so much more than confidence. As Wiley noted, "You can't move forward — you can't have people love you, you can't look at other people and accept them for who they are — unless you completely love yourself."
3. "It felt like I was making the choice to have a new beginning. It's the same really for a lot of African American girls at that age — you see a trend of them going back to their natural hair — that was definitely what I was chasing at that time."
Wiley told Mimi that she cut her hair when she was accepted into Juilliard for university and has rocked the short, natural look for nine years. However, the star also noted that she's looking forward to finishing Orange Is The New Black so she can grow out her hair and undergo another "new beginning."
4. "My mom is super fabulous, and I remember her telling me at 13, 'You can start wearing makeup now.' And the funny thing is, I didn't take her up on it!"
Although choosing to wear makeup is just as valid a feminist act as choosing not to wear makeup, I love that when asked about her beauty evolution, Wiley took it as an opportunity to talk about how great her mom is. She continued on to praise both her parents for accepting and supporting her sexuality, especially when they're both Baptist preachers.
5. "I want to make sure that any young person or anyone really who is looking up to me — who sees a glimpse of who I am as a person — that they see no shame, that they see pride, and that I'm truly unabashed about the person that I am."
Wiley perceives her role model status as not just a given because she's famous, but as a huge responsibility. "I think that what comes along with my visibility is a responsibility, and I don't take that lightly," she told Mimi. I love that Wiley knows that she doesn't have to change anything about herself to fulfill her role model duties; she just has to be unapologetic and confident in who she is.
6. "If I can look in the mirror with whatever I have on, if it makes me stand a certain way, if it makes me smile, then I don't care whether it's from this end of the spectrum or the other end."
Part of why I love Samira Wiley comes down to her brilliant style, which, as she said in the interview, is completely personal to her. It isn't solely "girly;" it definitely isn't "tomboy;" and even if it was one or the other? Well, it wouldn't matter at all. Clothes are meant to make you feel good.
7. "I don't really have a word for myself, or a category that I put myself in. I don't think about it too much."
When the interviewer questions the labels that get applied to Wiley and her girlfriend — such as "lipstick" (meaning a highly feminine lesbian) or "tomboy" (that sort of sexist phrase we all heard during childhood) — Wiley brushes off classifications as "passe." Labeling each other purely because of our style is outdated and arbitrary.
Clearly, Samira Wiley is a body positive goddess in almost every sense of the word. Her positivity and self love vibes are ones that can be applied to anyone.
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