If there’s one thing you can count on watching HBO’s Insecure as a Black millennial, it’s that you will see yourself reflected on screen. As the brainchild of Issa Rae I kind of expected to see myself in the relationship drama and in the “token” work-woes. But, what I didn’t expect was to see the anxious side of myself shown.
People who suffer from anxiety understand the importance of regular alone time. Point blank: self-care Sunday is everyday in our world. Daily tasks and social interactions can be incredibly draining, so a few minutes regaining sanity is crucial to our functional well-being.
It’s for this reason I've found Issa's bathroom-mirror raps on to be so relatable.
On almost every episode of the hit series, Issa’s character finds herself staring at her reflection. The raps are a really clever device, allowing Issa to communicate her inner-monologue, whether boosting up her confidence or processing her thoughts. I smile every time I hear a new one, because it's one of the few times I see my whole self on TV--especially at a time when so many women and POC are searching for true representations.
While I'm not a doctor (and therefore cannot diagnose Issa with anything) I do notice that her quirks, similar to my own, are manifestations of anxiety.
Like her my mornings are spent staring into the mirror chanting out mantras in hushed tones, while my roommates sit on the couch mere inches away (i.e. Lawrence, pre-Issa cheating) hoping I’ll exit the bathroom soon. After stalking his social media pages, I find myself laughing about how my ex is "still single and couldn't find another b**** to make his toes tingle," much like Issa did in season one thinking about Daniel. And I've called myself a "female bozo" on more than one occasion after an embarrassing day or night out.
I've come to realize that without doing these mirror-braindumps at least once a day my anxious thoughts take complete control of my mind and cause me to do some regrettable things, much like Issa does.
Seeing this on the small screen is so important because mental illnesses and how they affect the lives of people everyday are rarely shown on TV--especially when it comes to Black women. This is heartbreaking because Black women are amongst the highest group of people suffering from mental illnesses, according to National Alliance on Mental Illness. Yet, we refuse to get help for fear of being stigmatized. Unfortunately in our communities, mental illnesses are still regarded as “weak” or things that prayer can solely fix. The reality is that that’s far from the truth and I appreciate how this show offers a creative solution to treating anxious nerves without being preachy.
If I could say one thing to Issa Rae right now, it’d be to make sure there’s even more mirror raps in season three. Because of this show, for the first time my own mirror talks/dances don’t feel so taboo to talk about with others. I actually feel kind of proud. Hey, who knows? Issa may have even inspired me to bring my voice above a light whisper and to write my own raps.
While there's still a ways to go normalizing mental illnesses on TV, I'm happy to see Insecure jump-starting the conversation and for giving us awkward, anxiety-filled people a character we can relate to.