, Latest News, Standards of Black BeautyMy Thoughts on Gabourey “Gabby” Sidibe

My Thoughts on Gabourey “Gabby” Sidibe

I tried really hard to leave this topic alone because, quite frankly, I don’t think my opinion matters much. This ties into another post that I have coming up behind the “Who’s Allowed To Call You Fat?” topic but really… I have no stock in neither her successes nor her failures, so my interest is pretty non-existent.

I’ve never read Push. (I know someone’s gonna get on me for that. I spent more time in music books than I did anything else. My bad.) I haven’t seen the movie Precious and probably never will, simply because I’m not a movie person. However, you cannot ignore the fact that something awesome happened last year, and that awesomeness manifested itself into Oscars, Golden Globes, Solar Systems, and whatever else Hollywood uses to pat itself on the back.

I’m inspired by the roller coaster ride that the Precious team has enjoyed. From thinking that the story could never be done justice on the screen, to winning an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. From thinking that plus-sized women – especially women of color… especially Mo’Nique  – could never be recognized playing “these kinds of roles,” to watching a very gracious and charismatic 26 year old be nominated alongside the Meryl Streep and the Helen Mirren… and watching Mo’Nique win that Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

Really, do I need to go on?

There is something really powerful and refreshing here. While there are people who have their concerns about details within the movie (which don’t mean much to me, since I won’t be seeing it), I can only give credit to one thing. The fact that this climate, in this day and age, allowed for a movie like Precious to be funded, screened, lauded, awarded and successful. Forget what you think about “fat Black chicks.” That movie made $47 million dollars in only 200 theatres (if you take a peek at this chart, you’ll see movies who made $70mil but were shown in thousands of theatres) – there was clearly success to be had regardless of how few people were willing to give it a chance.

That’s not enough, though. Collectively as a nation, we need to be able to tear you down and rebuild you. So… let the attempts to tear down Miss Sidibe commence.

Howard Stern and that genius sidekick of his, Robin, lose their freaking marbles calling Gabby “the size of a planet,” and loudly proclaiming that she could never get another part because Hollywood simply doesn’t write for fat Black broads. I mean, that’s putting it bluntly, but it’s still a hell of a lot more polite than Stern’s original words. I’m not really sweating Howard Stern.. no one should. People who like him tune in to hear him say “what everyone is thinking” in the most crass and disrespectful way possible. It’s how he gets down. Big whoop.

This, for some reason, was the straw that broke my back. Some scammy acai berry magic elixir sellin’ company (y’all know how I feel about anything “magic“) tries to capitalize off of Sidibe’s attention by “leaking” a letter supposedly sent to her representatives about their fake-concern for her health. For the purposes of my rant, the letter is typed out for you below:

Dear Ms. Sidibe,

After viewing the recent pictures taken of you strolling around Santa Monica earlier this week, we at

[website redacted] have decided we can no longer sit back and keep our mouth’s [sic] shut! Obesity is a major epidemic in the United States, and we would like to help you rid yourself of this terrible affliction. Life doesn’t have to be this way.

It’s time to prove Howard Stern and all of your naysayers wrong! We, along with Oprah agree that you DO have a bright future ahead of you in the entertainment business, and the only way you can reach your goal of someday winning that Oscar is by being active, fit, and most of all, healthy!

Thousands of people around the world say that [company name redacted]’s Acai berry products help them live a healthier life that is full of energy and vitality. [redacted] has taken Acai Berry one step further by combining Acai extract with a combination of nutrients that help with weight-loss, increasing energy levels, and antioxidants that help promote healthier looking skin.

[redacted] would like to offer Ms. Sibide [sic] a ONE YEAR FREE SUPPLY of [redacted] in return for her glowing testimonial after she sheds her unwanted pounds.

Please get back to me at your earliest convenience with your or your representative’s shipping address so that we may ship out your first month’s supply.

Best Regards,
Total Jerk
CEO scammycompany

That last part might be my addition, but the rest of the letter is real. This is where I blew my lid.

First of all, I’m not gonna lie. I can hear it now. “Create a letter offering Si-bi-de – oh, it’s Si-di-be? Who cares! You know who I mean – some of our product for free, and send copies of the letter to the major gossip outlets. Tell her all she has to do is agree to promote for us, and she can have the supply for free. At best, she says yes. At worst, she says no and we still have all the publicity. Can’t fail!” That’s smart marketing… even though it’s rather vulture-like.

However… telling her that losing weight is the ONLY way she’d ever win an Oscar? Is that what this country is coming to now? That we believe that someone with stellar, outstanding, amazing talent would get passed over for recognition simply because they’re “fat?” That’s what we support and perpetuate? Is our collective self-esteem and respect for our peers that poor? Even more so, is that what we want to perpetuate? We don’t want to change that? Can’t change that?

Sigh.

Do I think Gabby is overweight? Yes. Do I think she’s unhealthy? Of course I do. Do I think that my opinion is important enough for her to care what I think? Not at all. Does any of this have anything to do with the amazing talent this woman has? Absolutely not. It makes her human. And I’d stand to believe that her “visible imperfection” made her that much more real in her portrayal of an… imperfect person. A real person playing a real role. How… unique.

I’m not even going to get on the fact that the letter repeats that motto that the fitness and weight loss industry LOVES to beat into our heads… that a magic little product will magically make us healthy. ‘Cause health is as easy as being skinny. ‘Cause being healthy is the same as being skinny. I mean, I don’t need to go there on this site, do I?

Nah.

My eyes kind of just glaze over when I have to face people’s need to talk about Gabby’s weight. Do we… need someone to know that we feel some kind of way about someone’s body? Are we getting some kind of satisfaction from highlighting someone else’s flaws? Is it just open season on people, nowadays? Or do we feel that we are so above criticism that we can say whatever we want about others… since, clearly, the same couldn’t be said about ourselves?

Like I said in the beginning… I don’t care, and I wish more of you felt the same way, too. I support Gabourey as a very incredible and witty personality, and I wish her the best (apparently.. thanks to Showtime, she’s already on her way). My time is better invested in me and making myself a better person, than expelling energy on people that don’t know me or give a damn what I think.

Update: Robin Quivers, the aforementioned sidekick on The Howard Stern Show, wrote for The Huffington Post just so that she could honestly “explain” her and Stern’s comments… without all the snark and crudeness required while on air. Maybe I’m just too much of a cynic to give it any weight, no pun intended.

In an effort to end this rant on an uplifting note, I present you with the best thing to come out of a celebrity’s mouth in a long time:

“I learned to love myself, because I sleep with myself every night and I wake up with myself every morning, and if I don’t like myself, there’s no reason to even live the life […] They try to paint the picture that I was this downtrodden, ugly girl who was unpopular in school and in life and then I got this role and now I’m awesome, but the truth is that I’ve been awesome, and then I got this role.” – Gabourey Sidibe

Amen.

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By | 2017-06-10T11:21:56+00:00 December 4th, 2014|Beauty, Latest News, Standards of Black Beauty|43 Comments

About the Author:

The proud leader of the #bgg2wlarmy, Erika Nicole Kendall writes food and fitness, body image and beauty, and more here at #bgg2wl. After losing over 150lbs, Kendall became a personal trainer certified in fitness nutrition, women's fitness, and weight loss by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is also certified in sports nutrition by Precision Nutrition. She now lives in New York with her husband and children, and is working on her 6th and 7th certifications because she likes having alphabet soup at the end of her name.

43 Comments

  1. Ironlady March 17, 2010 at 6:31 AM - Reply

    I think we all knew it was coming, eventually. But, Gabby’s a really intelligent young woman. I love that quote and it just goes to show everyone how down to earth and really smart she is. I just hope this doesn’t shake her spirit.

  2. Inkognegro March 17, 2010 at 7:30 AM - Reply

    I am loathe to put money or energy against such an uncommon and amazing talent.

    If she’s gotten this far…methinks shell be JUST FINE

  3. Barbie1908 March 17, 2010 at 8:16 AM - Reply

    Ugh! I wish would leave alone!

  4. Lisa March 17, 2010 at 8:18 AM - Reply

    I wish they would leave her the HELL alone. Damn. Girl can’t even enjoy her success in peace. IF and when she wants to lose the weight, TRUST, she is in the most PERFECT position to do so. The MAIN folx worried about her so tough have their OWN health demons to worry about. I will bet my dues that fully 75% of the MEN commenting on her (of whatever age/demographic/race/what have you) haven’t been to a doctor in at least three years. And let’s not get into the women. Yes boo, you too have no room. If you’re talking isht about old girl and YOUR game isn’t tight, STFU. Period. Work on you, let her work on her.

    • Indiablack April 28, 2012 at 1:25 PM - Reply

      Lol lol @ lisa i love you girl i agree with 1ooooooooo times, i hate when nasty ugly ignorant people judge people on there looks, i hate that but this is the world we live in, everybody have a opinion, so heres mine, j have always liked gabby and always will, shes smart ,cute,nice,funny,good actress, e’t.c. She knows she needs to lose weight, but when shes ready to do it, nobody can make her do it, shell be fine, when shes ready shes be ready, her wieght dont bother me at all, its was her warm sprited good down to earth personality that i love, yes its about the personality when a person should be judge, everybody has been picked and made fun of, if they say you dont thats a dam lie, looks are subjective, gabby will be a good wife and mother some day, what goes around comes around, thats a fact, to me when act ugly as hell you ugly period, dam what you look like, another thing i love about gabbyis that she doesnt care what people think and that takes courage and strength which she does, god has giving her courage and the acting, shes bless with family and suport team, and i support her, i like her in presious but i couldnt take that movie, really i will never watch that movie again, it was good but so much bad stuff going on, i made me sick to my stomach, lol i will never watch that movie again to sad for me, but shes a good actress, god bless

  5. Ralonda March 17, 2010 at 11:27 AM - Reply

    Even if their game is tight, they still have no right to trash anyone. I hate when people say horrible things about people then say that their just concerned about said person’s health. They don’t give a damn about their health, because what about their mental health? If making fun of people for their weight worked, NO ONE would be overweight.

  6. Tisha March 17, 2010 at 12:33 PM - Reply

    Good stuff, E. And I LOVE her comment at the end!!

  7. tdixonspeaks March 17, 2010 at 11:13 PM - Reply

    I had been working on a similar blog post, and deliberately withhelf from reading yours so my view wasn’t influenced.

    But as usual, we tended to be on the same page. You just said it with more eloquence. Love her quote too!

  8. PhluffyPrincess April 2, 2010 at 9:31 PM - Reply

    I am SO divided on views of Gabby. I feel because of her size and even dark skin color she is such a target of criticism, which is unfair. She is a person with feelings and her own insecurities, I’m sure. However – I do think she should lose weight as you’ve said and acknowledging her unhealthy weight and possibly lifestyle would be an appropriate first step, whether public or private. but that is hard to do until you are completely ready to change for yourself – not Howard Stern, or the public or the Academy or anyone else.

    I’ve not seen Precious either. I read a LOT and I read the book back when it was first published. The story isn’t something I could relate to at all so I passed, also – you aren’t the only one. But I watched the awards and cheered with the rest of Black America!

  9. Hidi April 27, 2010 at 9:01 AM - Reply

    It irks me to no end the endless arguments over Gabby’s body size; I don’t like it. People need to leave her alone. Her body is just that HER BODY. She has full rights to live the way she wants to. Who are we to tell her she is going to die early or she is unhealthy??? Really? This type of mentality is what’s wrong with society because it’s an endless battle between who is healthy versus unhealthy and what it should look like. SMH…What does a person with HIV look like? Or what does a person with cancer look like? See, conversations about Gabby in regards to her weight are superficial. Sometimes it gets so exhausting.
    Do you Gabby and let no one tell you any different.

  10. Jae112 August 28, 2010 at 10:37 AM - Reply

    I loove Gabby!! Trust me, she knows exactly what she’s dealing with in Hollywood and what makes her a true success is her unlimitless confidence in herself and the loving support of her family and friends. With that said, Dear writer of this article: WHY ARE YOU NOT SUPPORTING THE MOVIE WITH YOUR DOLLARS BY SEEING IT? As a testament to the Black struggle and with this Black forum, you should spend the dollars to see the movie, regardless if you’re not a movie watcher. It’s a supporting our own and keeping us on top, can’t do that if you don’t economically support the same woman you are writing about.

    • Erika August 28, 2010 at 10:40 AM - Reply

      Quite simply, because my dollars are going to more important things in my life than movies that don’t interest me.

      • chocolateqt December 4, 2010 at 12:23 PM - Reply

        for this comment alone, i love you. and this site is quite fabulous!

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