Taylor Schilling, who plays Piper Chapman in the smash-hit Netflix original series Orange is the New Black, recently admitted that she’s struggled with self-esteem in the past. Playing an inmate in a women’s prison has helped Schilling be comfortable in her own skin.
Orange is the New Black features not only Taylor Schilling, but an ensemble cast of actresses from Laura Prepon from That 70s Show to Kate Mulgrew from Star Trek Voyager. Taylor’s character, among most others, wears plain beige clothes or an orange jumpsuit. Many of the actresses appear on screen with virtually no makeup, and Taylor Schilling is no exception. It’s this disregard for societal beauty standards that Taylor finds so liberating about the show.
“I don’t feel bound by my face or my body,” Taylor Schilling told Allure magazine in an upcoming issue. “I don’t feel like that’s the biggest gift I have to offer the world. I feel like there are more parts of me to offer than that. It’s totally liberating. There’s freedom in not having to make it about how my jeans fit or what my boobs look like in a top. All I have to do now is play.”
Much of the series focuses on the inmates’ daily struggle for safety and comfort. Some characters have the luxury of makeup and salon-treatment, while others, like Schilling’s character, have more trouble just staying alive. Critics and fans seem to agree that Orange is the New Black sends positive messages about women’s rights, feminine strength, and societal pressures. Taylor Schilling can identify with the high expectations of young girls to be thin and beautiful. According to the New York Daily News, Taylor felt like she was trapped in her own body as a kid:
“It was tough at home, and it was tough at school,” said Taylor. “My experience was painful, so painful. There was a period of time I had very short hair, and I had glasses, and I was very tall for my age.”
These childhood struggles have only helped to make Taylor a more confident actress. Schilling now flaunts her own brand of beauty and helps spread messages of hope to other women suffering from body image issues.
“When we walk down the street, we see a huge variety of women, and that’s just not usually reflected in entertainment,” Schilling added. “Yet this show does that.”
Both seasons of Orange is the New Black featuring Taylor Schilling can be found on Netflix. The third season is in the making, with Laura Prepon slated to return for every episode.