OITNB’s Dascha Polanco’s Advice To Women Who Feel Inferior Due To Their Bodies


We all know her as the quiet but strong Daya on ‘Orange Is The New Black’. The third season hits Netflix June 9 and we are all waiting to see what happens when Daya has her baby, but in real like Dascha is already a mom to two children and most definitely has her life together.

In an interview with Vh1, the actress spoke about the women and the attributes that make her feel empowered, some advice we all could benefit from.

In her latest feature film alongside Adam Sandler in ‘The Cobbler’, her character is in an unhappy relationship, but that wouldn’t happen to Dascha in real life because she has some choice wisdom she imparts to those who are currently in an unhappy situation.

“I think we always try to blame ourselves for a situation. We’re held responsible for our actions, but I think there’s a time where you have the decision to make yourself happy. Step out of a situation that’s not comfortable for you – only you can make that [happen]. If you’re unhappy, if you’re in danger – not that I’m saying it’s easy, because it’s a process – only you know when it’s right, when you can leave, or when you can decide to stop it.”

We at GTHQ fully believe in having role models and female mentors who can help and inspire you on your journey in life. Dascha has a list of women, some of whom we too admire, that she looks up to for specific reasons, one of those being that they are Latina.

“I look up to Angelina Jolie as a philanthropist. I find that everything she said she’d do she has done, and there’s nothing like being true to your own self and accomplishing the goals that you set,” she says.


“You also have to look at Latinas like Eva Longoria — I think she’s amazing, what she stands by — and Selma Hayek. [They] use their sexiness, perceived as their Latin passion, to get the attention of Hollywood. Jennifer Lopez has used that to her advantage to become an entrepreneur. These are all women growing up I would look up to and gain inspiration from.”

Speaking of Latina women breaking the mold, they have become synonymous for allowing curvy bodies to be “acceptable” in the mainstream, which is a good thing but there is still this idea that a woman who isn’t a size zero fit into an “other” category.

“You always see the size zero, skinny significant other. I’ve seen a lot of movies and I rarely see the main chick as a woman with the curves. It’s not about having the curves, I think it’s deeper than that. I tweeted a quote the other day [about] my whole life, my appearance, and not looking like what was depicted and accepted. I realized that it’s not about how I look outside; it’s about how I feel about my differences inside, and how a difference can be so beautiful,” she said.

“There are women who are born with more volume than others, but that difference is what intrigues [others] and allows you to have uniqueness that you should use positively. It’s time for us to really evaluate [ourselves] in the mirror and say, “This is OK. I can too bring out any quality. I can too be on the cover of any magazine, just the way I am.”

In an interview with Sophie Tweed-Simmons from Cosmopolitan Magazine’s ‘No Filter’ video series (full video below) Dascha explains how depressing it was trying to find a dress during awards season this year because the majority of dresses didn’t fit her body shape and had to be specially ordered.

Not just the red carpet, but in photo shoot sessions she complained that it was second nature for stylists to dress her in black when she wanted to wear color.


“I hate the term sample size,” she tells Sophie. “We gotta come up with a better term than sample size.”

She also admitted to Sophie how embarrassed she felt of her own body the first time she saw herself in the frumpy prison outfits on OITNB. But after a while she realized that she shouldn’t be ashamed of who she is.

“I felt like it wasn’t me, so I started working out. You know I’m never going to be a size zero and I don’t wanna be, I love being thick…I want to be able to control it, not have it control me.”

But now because of the attention she is getting from OITNB, her fame has allowed Dascha to love herself more and accept herself the way she is.

“I don’t have to hide the fact that I’m insecure, I can speak about it. And I’m about to connect with others that feel that way. I love that. If I can say ‘I understand how you feel’ and help steer someone the right way as far as focusing on how beautiful and unique they are, how imperfectly perfect they are…I didn’t have that,” she said.

Part of her own insecurity stemmed from being in a previous verbal and physically abusive relationship with a man who made her feel horrible about her own body image. Thankfully she has moved on from that and can use the lessons she learned to teach others, including her own daughter.

She wants to teach her healthy ideals about body image and set her on the right path so she doesn’t make the same mistakes as she did. In the video interview she talks about how her daughter expresses she wants to go to the gym to lose weight.


“I [tell her] no you’re gonna go to the gym because you want to be healthy. Not because you want to look a certain way. This is how you were made, and you can be a better you, but you’re not going to be like the next person.”

She doesn’t want her daughter thinking about her appearance in reference to what a man thinks.

In Hollywood there is so much pressure put on moms because they are under the paparazzi spotlight already, but the tabloids and then everyone else feels like they have a right to make judgements on how women parent (never the men, of course). Dascha told Vh1 that being a mother is a choice of providing what you want to provide for you child, and is getting inspiration from a book called ‘The Five Love Languages‘ by Dr. Gary Chapman.

“There are plenty of people who are financially well [off enough], get a nanny to continue their work, and still get criticized. As a mother, I put in my time with my kids, and right now I’m working. There are times where I feel like maybe I should get a nanny, maybe I shouldn’t. I have the right to make the decision I want to make with my kids. You can’t please society, you have to do what’s best for you,” she says.

“Some of us out there don’t have money but we choose to stay home and live off of welfare and support our kids off of food stamps, which there’s nothing wrong with that, but nobody’s complaining how you have to spend your income tax check or [spending] your welfare money on your beauty supplies instead of your child’s education. We all have a choice to do whatever we want.”

We love Dascha Polanco and can’t wait to see more of her on screen. In the meantime you can read the full interview on Vh1, and watch the Cosmo video below:




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  1. Pingback: Link Love #47 - Your Motives to Exercise, Body-Shame, Stop (Over) Talking About Food & More... | Allison Bryant

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