Dascha Polanco is making it big. The 35-year-old actress has had starring roles on hit shows like The Assassination of Gianni Versace and Netflix’s Orange is the New Black. She has a cool 2.5 million followers on Instagram, and she’s a body positive advocate. That’s why she’s teamed up with Dove for its self-esteem project, dedicated to building girls up to live their most powerful lives. We sat down with the actress in New York to find out more about her tips for boosting your confidence levels to new heights.
Know that you’re not alone
Self-doubt is something almost everyone deals with—famous actresses included. “I struggled a lot with self-esteem,” admits Polanco. “Looking back, it was [often] a reflection about my weight. My hair was too curly; I wanted it straight. I wanted to look like everyone else,” she says. Here, 5 more celebs get frank about how they deal with body image.
A few positive affirmations can go a long way
Social media can sometimes have a negative impact on her, and Polanco’s sure others feel the same. But there’s a way to fight back she says. “[Self-care] rituals or little affirmations that you can do in your own time, in your home help you weave out the negativity,” says Polanco. “It teaches me that what social media, pop culture, what I see on the web, what people say, cannot knock down what I’ve been working on for so long.” These days, Polanco regularly tags her Instagram photos with the hashtag #selflovery to encourage conversation and spread positivity. (Check out how this Instagram influencer is redefining the post-partum body – one vulnerable photo at a time.)
It’s OK to feel the feels
“There are days you wake up and you don’t want to do certain things. You want to stay in bed and that’s okay,” says Polanco. “We need to learn how to embrace those feelings and not suppress them. We need to be able to go through those emotions, when you feel down and out and you say, ‘you know what? I’m feeling sad or I’m feeling not pretty and I just want to eat ice cream,’” she says. “You know what makes all of this beautiful? That I’m ready to acknowledge those feelings. I’m able to eat my ice cream and tomorrow morning I’m going to go workout and I’m going to go get pretty, I’m going to go to the spa, go paint my nails.”
There’s power in numbers
“In my household, I always tell my daughter that she doesn’t need anything she thinks she does. She doesn’t leave the house without her eyebrows on. I’m like girl ‘you’re beautiful,’” says Polanco. “That’s not what is going to define you as a person or how beautiful you are,” she continues. It goes both ways, too. “She keeps me in check, too, because when I’m going, ‘I’m so fat!’ she goes, ‘Oh my god mom you’re not fat! You’re so beautiful. I love your big butt.’ I’m like, ‘Do you? Okay!’ You need that kind of dialogue.”