While 2015 has notably been a year infused with perhaps more body positivity than our society has ever seen in mainstream media, myself and team Wear Your Voice want to honor one of the major players in this becoming a reality: Gabourey Sidibe.
(Image source: @gabby3shabby Instagram)
Sidibe hasn’t nearly been celebrated enough for all that she has brought to the table and visibilized for fat girls across America and worldwide, although she plays a huge role in bringing more diverse representation to mainstream media. We are talking primetime television and blockbuster movies, people! Sources of media that reach millions of viewers worldwide, which feature Sidibe herself owning the spotlight. Beyond owning it, KILLING it. As I took a moment to reflect upon all of her achievements this year alone, I knew we had to feature her triumphs to collectively celebrate before ushering in a new year. Please read, share, and enjoy these 4 Times Gabourey Sidibe Killed it in 2015 Just By Being Herself:
1. White House Correspondents’ Dinner Red Carpet Moment
At this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Sidibe and fellow actress Bailee Madison struck a pose of solidarity that made a beyond beautiful statement on the red carpet, complete with back-to-back hand-holding. While this denotes one specific photo out of the many taken of them on the red carpet that night, this image stands out as the most notable in my mind, because it gives a rare unapologetic look at two totally different body types and celebrates them side-by-side. Girls and Womyn aren’t given very many images of diversity to look upon when it comes to the land of Hollywood, which adds to the awesomeness of the shot – as does Gabourey’s ability to be herself in so many settings, including the spotlight.
Check out the epic photos HERE!
2. Sharing the Stage For the Teen Choice Awards Performance of “You’re So Beautiful.”
(Image source: @gabby3shabby Instagram)
I wrote, “sharing the stage,” but “stealing the show” may have more aptly titled this killer Gabourey moment from 2015, in which she made a surprise appearance during a Teen Choice performance of her Empire co-stars Jussie Smollett and Bryshere Grey. Halfway through their performance of “You’re So Beautiful,” a hit song from the show, which was inspired by Gabby herself, she appeared on stage prepared to OWN the routine amongst the other dancers (who we must admit we wish represented more body diversity). It quickly became one of the favorite moments of the entire awards show – you don’t have to take our word for it – check out the performance below:
Although Gabourey has shown us time and time again that she is just being herself and doing it for the world to see, there is nothing “just” about it. Whether it is her intention or not, it is a fact that Gabourey represents so many womyn who are either underrepresented in mainstream media or not represented at all. Her representation means the world to countless numbers of girls and womyn who are proud to be inspired by her every move.
3. Announcement of Impending Memoir
(Image source: @gabby3shabby Instagram)
This was also the year that Gabourey announced the making of her memoir – partnered with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, who acquired the still untitled book, to be published sometime in 2017. In a statement regarding the impending book, Gabourey had these intriguing words to say: “I’ve been writing since I was a child and have always had so many stories to tell that are too long, shady, and impolite to share in interviews. It brings me much joy to add Published Writer to my résumé of Actor and part-time Foot Model.” Whether the actress was being cheeky or serious about the last part of her statement, it certainly sparked the interest of media outlets who are eagerly awaiting an explanation…or some savvy foot modeling shots I’d suspect.
4. The Empire Sex Scene, Disrupting Worldwide Social Paradigms
(Image source: screenshot)
It’s no secret that the latest season of Empire didn’t only return with a bang – it involved several actually (and has officially ended with one)! From the cheating scene of Jamal’s boyfriend to the multiple bedroom scenes of Cookie and her lover, audience’s limits have been tested, yet, little to no audience uproar has occurred over such occurrences. Place a beautiful and confident plus sized black womyn in an opening love scene for one episode, however, and it’s watch out world, mainstream media herstory has now been made, with varying reactions set into motion. Each reaction served to expose an important truth that society truly needs to learn, and included:
- Public Fat Shaming that exposed the heinous nature of the act itself
- Greater awareness raised addressing Fat Phobia
The only problem with this sex scene, of course, lies in the fat phobia of others (and you may also know I proudly have created and declared #FuckFatPhobia to all of this) – I have considered this from my psychological lens as well and realized that a great many men and women may have watched that scene and felt almost surprised or tricked that it actually turned them on so much! Society has been so conditioned to see fat as bad or undesirable, that most have forgotten the primal instinct to want to be all up in it. I mean we all pretty much start on the breast – a giant fat gland when we really break it down, that feels damn good. People are afraid of their own human desires so deeply not wanting to be other than, never fully understanding how conditioned against their bodies and all bodies for that matter, they have become.
(Image source: screenshot, best friend characters Jamal & Becky dishing about how good the sex was)
Last season of the show, I wrote a piece entitled Gabourey Sidibe: Unsung Heroine of TV’s Hit Empire Challenges Fat Phobia – discussing the fact that her presence on the show is extremely powerful, especially because her body size is a non-issue and not at all a discussion as part of the dialogue (at least yet and hopefully not ever). This is so important because it begins to normalize what TV will have you beginning to believe is other than. All bodies belong on the screen, just like all bodies deserve good sex, to love, and be loved (no matter what hundreds of diet commercials are trying to sell you otherwise).
- 3. Gabourey Authentically Expresses Feelings Honestly in Her Own Words
Gabourey is clearly being treated like the goddess and human that she is by the new character on the scene – J.Poppa. In creating this moment, space for recognition and healing has been created for all fat women told that they are not or cannot be sexy. Gabourey herself wrote a response to all the haters, in her episode outline for Entertainment Weekly, which captures just how brilliant she truly is:
- Celebrity and social media supporting highlighting solidarity
The story inspired a colorful social media hashtag, #MyFatSexStory, as seen below:
It also sparked much celebrity support, including a daytime TV show conversation in which Sharon Osborn does an amazingly blunt job of telling it like it really is (aka fat shaming is total BS to engage in): “Get off this mission of fat shaming. She is the most beautiful, young girl, a talented actress. What does it really matter if she is 200, 300, 100 pounds? WHO CARES?!”
No matter what the response, the important piece to remember is that this opening scene of Empire can never be erased or unwritten (neither can the brilliant force that is Gabourey either) – it has embedded itself into the Psyche of Society to continue to process until another writer wants to build on this pure magic. Until then, the paradigm of prime time TV and the face of American culture as we know it had been disrupted toward the churning wheels of change, with Gabourey Sidibe proudly at the forefront, in my opinion.
Myself and team Wear Your Voice can’t wait to see what kind of magic she will create in 2016!