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.
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?
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?
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