Sunday was probably among Gabourey Sidibe’s top 10 days ever — she was sitting front row at the Oscars, nominated in the same category as Meryl Streep and Dame Helen Mirren. She was dressed in a gorgeous Marchesa gown, flirted with Gerard Butler, and was personally shouted out by both winner Mo’Nique and Sandra Bullock. Many were rooting for her to potentially upset Bullock’s inevitable win, but regardless, the vibe from everyone in the room was that this girl was going places and it would not be the last we’d see of her.
To some, however, Gabby Sidibe is just “the most enormous, fat black chick ever seen.” That’s how Howard Stern described her on his radio show this morning, laughing and mocking her along with his co-host Robin Givens, not even showing Sidibe enough respect to pronounce her name correctly. Something tells me he didn’t actually see “Precious,” not that I would expect her incredible talent on-screen could convince him she’s worthy of a deeper or more complicated assessment. While being sexist, vile, and hateful is what Howard “does” for a living, the inability to see Gabby as more than just her shape and color doesn’t belong to him alone. Since critics and audiences began lauding her for her performance in “Precious,” others — the media, the entertainment industry, etc. — have all but decided that a rough road is a head of her, career-wise, that would only be made easier if she loses weight.
There are those who wonder if Gabby, despite her Oscar nomination, will be able to excel in Hollywood because of her size. Stern put it cruelly: “Oprah’s another liar, a filthy liar… She’s telling an enormous woman the size of a planet that she’s going to have a career.” It’s true that Hollywood is hardly casting leading lady roles in rom-coms with Black women, let alone Black women over 120 pounds. Would Gabby have a better shot at having her pick of movie roles if she lost weight? Totally. But could she ever be the size that Hollywood, as it currently operates, considers “movie star beautiful.” Highly unlikely. I, for one, would love to see Gabby in more movies, to see how she transforms as an actress. So what can be done? Should we (and I mean the royal we, i.e. society) look at the raw talent of someone like Gabby, shake our heads and say, “What a shame …”? Or do we stop contributing to the problem by deflecting attention from the real issue — our nationwide disgust with fat people and obsession with thin, perfect, and plastic — by pretending we give a s**t about this girl’s health?
Gabourey Sidibe is fat. She is full-sized. She is obese, I think, technically speaking, though only a doctor could confirm that. Supposedly she has tried dieting without much success, but honestly, what business is it of ours? She is an adult. If she is comfortable with the risks someone of her size might face and is proud of the way she looks, why do people insist on giving a f**k? Are we afraid that if she doesn’t publicly loathe her size and her weight, she’ll be sending a terrible message to our kids that obesity is SO HOT RIGHT NOW? Bitch, please. Millions of people in this country are overweight, despite the fact that our magazine, movies, and TV shows are filled with nothing but skinny actresses.
You know what Gabby represents that is so hot right now? Self-confidence. Self-respect. Pride. Attitude. Swagger. All qualities I would love for my future children to see in her and want to emulate.