Tamar Braxton on Mental Health & Reality TV: 'They Promise Us Opportunity but Produce Exploitation'

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Tamar Braxton on Mental Health & Reality TV: 'They Promise Us Opportunity but Produce Exploitation'
Image:Earl Gibson III/Getty Images for WE tv (Getty Images)

Tamar Braxton, singer, reality TV star and sister of singer Toni Braxton, has put out a statement after an apparent suicide attempt earlier this month. Braxton, who has been on several reality TV programs including Braxton Family Values, thanked supporters for their well wishes and called out the reality TV industry for exacerbating her mental health struggle and for exploiting Black hosts and presenters.

TMZ reports that Braxton’s boyfriend found her unconscious and unresponsive in her Los Angeles hotel room on July 16; she was transported to an area hospital and is recovering. In a message posted to Twitter and Instagram, Braxton confirmed that she had attempted to die by suicide, and that she was suffering from mental illness exacerbated by the 11 years she’s spent working in a reality TV industry that traffics in “toxic, systematic bondage.”

“Over the past 11 years there were promises made to protect and portray my story, with the authenticity and honesty I gave,” she wrote. “I was betrayed, taken advantage of, overworked, and underpaid.” Braxton, whose new show Get Ya Life! is produced by WE tv, noted that she asked to be freed from her contract two months ago, citing mental health distress. Her request was reportedly ignored.

“Who I was, begun to mean little to nothing, because it would only be how I was portrayed on television that would matter,” she wrote. “It was witnessing the slow death of the woman I became, that discouraged my will to fight. I felt like I was no longer living, I was existing for the purpose of a corporations gain and ratings, and that killed me.”

Braxton pointed out that this wasn’t just her struggle, but that reality TV shows and producers prey on Black women and other women of color in particular.

“Reality TV personalities have no union, no coat of protection, no formal representation that protects our labor, our rights, our voices,” she said. “They promise us opportunity but produce exploitation, which has only developed a poor portrayal of black people in show business.”

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