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Mar. 19 2010 - 1:22 pm | 2,142 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

The Gabby Sidibe debate solved, once and for all

"No, seriously, Gabby Sidibe is awesome!"

A little while ago, I wrote about the mind-boggling treatment of actress Gabourey Sidibe in Hollywood.  People think that she’s actually Precious.  People just can’t wait to say that she’ll never work again.  People really can’t wait to say that she’ll die soon because she’s got to be so unhealthy, and that once she loses weight she’ll be able to be successful (as if getting nominated for Best Actress for your first movie isn’t successful…. excuse me, I need to go have a drink). 

People feel surprisingly strong about Sidibe.  A friend of mine and I had been in an intense debate for over a week: I believe that Sidibe is a positive example to young girls in America.   Because she is proud of her herself and her body, she is talented and successful despite looking so different than most of Hollywood, and she’s not afraid to say she’s awesome– “I love that I love myself,” she says, and I love that she loves herself too.  Because not enough people know how to love themselves.

My friend, though, argued that since obesity is a serious health problem in our country, Sidibe’s unwavering pride in her body might not actually be a positive thing.  Obesity is bad for your health, he argued, and for her to celebrate it is to send the wrong message– in fact, people who are obese should lose weight.  He compared it to something like smoking or alcoholism, a health issue with social and biological factors but ultimately something an individual has some degree of control over.  I disagreed with him.  I said that to be big doesn’t necessarily mean to be unhealthy.  That Sidibe eats healthy and exercises regularly.  That our country is so fucked up when it comes to body image that someone like Sidibe, who teaches girls, women, anyone, to love themselves even when other people are saying you shouldn’t, is incredibly important.

Needless to say, the conversation got pretty heated, and it didn’t seem like there was any way to resolve it.

And then– something insane happened.  I have no other way to describe it than some sort of Secular Divine Intervention.  This friend of mine works in the movie business, and the other day, he got word that he was going to be working on a day-long project with Gabourey Sidibe.  He went to the shoot, and he came back with the following news: She’s not that big.  He was stunned.  She’s big, he said, but not nearly the way everyone makes her out to be, and certainly not in a way that justifies Stern’s statement that she’ll die in 3 years.  He said it’s a combination of the camera, which adds weight to everyone, and the context she’s in– on a red carpet full of abnormally tiny people, she certainly stands out.  What’s more– there were a lot of other movie stars there too, leading lady/hottie types, and he said they were all so skinny it looked like they were on the verge of dying.

So there’s the switcheroo for you– in a room full of actresses, my friend thought Sidibe was the healthiest looking one, by far.

Sweet, sweet justice!  There are, what, 300 million people in America?  A whole bunch of them fall on one side or the other of this Sidibe controversy.  And MY FRIEND, completely randomly, got to be proven wrong in REAL LIFE!  What are the odds?  Everywhere else in America, where people are having this argument, there is no way to settle it.  The only way to settle it is to see Sidibe and a bunch of other movie stars in person, and, unfathomably, that happened to us.  And I won!

I’m pretty excited.  And my friend was too– even though he was wrong, he couldn’t wait to tell me.  Howard Stern is a fuckhead, no question about it.  And of course, the real winner here is Sidibe.  And all the people who look up to her.


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  1. collapse expand

    I believe Howard said she would never star in another feature film again. Technically, until she stars in another movie again (or is signed to do so) he’s proven correct day after day. Unless you have a link to an announcement in Variety, it’s rather difficult to pronounce him wrong.

    Or, are you arguing that Hollywood ISN’T completely shallow and DOESN’T hire for parts based on appearance ideals? That Stern is a fuckhead because he thinks Hollywood is full of phonies? I hate Hollywood’s discriminatory practices…are you defending them, or saying they don’t exist?

    I don’t like, love, dislike, or hate Gabby. I’m utterly indifferent to her as a person, as I am most actors, although I do sympathize with someone who represents a class of persons trying to make it in an uphill battle against an entrenched institution like the movie business.

    That said (I’m trying to be sensitive here) there is no way on Earth you can tell me that this is the camera “adding weight”:

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    About Me

    I am a stand-up comic and writer living in Brooklyn. I also teach theater and comedy to elementary-school kids in the Bronx. My writing and comedy videos have been featured on the women's comedy website Funny Not Slutty, Punchline Magazine, and EDGE.

    I co-write and co-star in a web series with my brother called John and Molly Get Along, which can be found on Youtube.

    I really enjoy a lot of goofy pop culture stuff, but I'm also a feminist, which makes things difficult. That's what I like to write about.

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    Contributor Since: February 2010