The latest episode of the Facebook Watch series, Peace of Mind with Taraji, hosted by Taraji P. Henson and her best friend Tracie Jade, discusses bulimia with Gabourey Sidibe and the plights of Black women dealing with the eating disorder.
Titled "Bulimia: Not Just for Skinny White Girls With Gabourey Sidibe," the episode also features an interview with Clara Jaide, a Black woman who faced bullying in her predominantly white community as a child and now has lingering depression and bulimia that plague her.
Henson and Jade speak with Jaide about her personal struggles with bulimia, which she said came as an attempt to have what she considered the "perfect body.” In a raw and powerfully emotional moment, Henson takes Jaide to the mirror in an attempt to begin combatting her negative self-image.
"I want you to see yourself. I see beauty. when you walked in I was like, 'Oh, she's gorgeous! I want you to do this to yourself. When you start feeling some kind of way, when that devil, I call it a big b***h. I fight with her every day when she tries to tell me, 'I'm not this, I'm not that.' I take her right to the mirror and I face her and say 'You're a liar. A damn liar. Look at this beauty.' And I talk myself up because you can't wait for people to do it," Henson tells Jaide as they stand in front of a mirror.
"Tell that b***h that keeps trying to say that you're not worthy, tell her that you are. Tell her!" Henson instructs a tearful Jaide.
Henson doesn't allow her to leave the mirror without making sure Jaide affirms "that big b***h is lying," before the women begin laughing.
The Hidden Figures actress notes in the episode that Black girls are 50% more likely to become bulimic than white girls.
Jade and Henson also speak with actress Sidibe about her struggles with mental health, depression, anxiety, and bulimia and how she was able to address these problems through therapy.
Henson's show debuted in December and each episode shines a light on a different mental health challenge facing people today.
She has already sat down with Gabrielle Union, Tamar Braxton, Mary J. Blige and Jay Pharoah, among others, about a range of mental health issues that Black people have to deal with, and part of the show's mission is to dispel stigmas about discussing mental health problems.
As Blavity previously reported, a study published in September found that Black Americans are suffering significantly more than people of other races due to struggles brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"During the pandemic, Black and Latino people, women, and people with lower incomes have faced significantly greater hardships than other groups in the U.S., even as they comprise a disproportionately large share of the essential workers critical to the functioning and reopening of the economy," the study read.
"The Commonwealth Fund survey indicates that large numbers of Black and Latino adults, as well as people with low income, are struggling to pay for basic necessities and experiencing mental health concerns related to COVID-19. Such findings call for greater investments in the economic security of these disproportionately affected groups, including rent relief, nutrition assistance programs, and expanded access to behavioral health care," the study added.
As Henson notes, the problem is particularly acute for Black women, with studies showing that many Black women struggling with extraordinary amounts of stress and anxiety over the state of the country. They often feel the need to downplay their own issues in order to serve as the backbone for their families.
Two Black women doctors, Brandi Jackson and Aderonke Pederson, wrote a piece for The Washington Post last year highlighting the problems Black women, in particular, face.
"Black women sit squarely at the confluence of multiple systems of oppression and are experiencing a disproportionate loss of life and livelihood in the era of COVID-19. In the case of Black women, the symptoms are the inevitable result of the pandemic’s impact on human psyches that are already systematically oppressed and battered," the doctors wrote.
"Our current mental health systems over-pathologize Black women’s experience of pain and trauma without first affirming the source of the stress: ongoing delayed justice for our community," they added.
The latest episode of Peace of Mind with Taraji, will air on Monday.