Gabourey Sidibe is a mag­net for faux con­cern. When she comes up in con­ver­sa­tions it’s nev­er for her mag­net­ic per­for­mance in Pre­cious, her scene-steal­ing turn as a cafe own­er in Dif­fi­cult Peo­ple, or the lev­i­ty and deft with which she plays Becky in Empire. It’s often about her weight. How it will restrict her from get­ting ahead in the indus­try — as though she hasn’t been con­sis­tent­ly work­ing since her 2009 debut. How it’s not healthy — as though the hushed con­ver­sa­tions or nasty online com­ments will some­how com­bine and infuse into her body, mag­i­cal­ly ren­der­ing it more healthy. As though it’s any of our fuck­ing busi­ness.

Let’s be clear: Gabourey Sidibe is a *work­ing* actress. Not a Nene Leakes ‘got a few roles back in 2012’ actress. Not a Stacey Dash ‘Fox News destroyed my career’ actress. But a con­sis­tent­ly work­ing actress who inhab­its her char­ac­ters and trans­lates them effort­less­ly on screen. And I don’t make this dis­tinc­tion to throw shade at Leakes or Dash (okay, well maybe at Dash…), but to make clear that she is already doing the thing peo­ple faux-fear her weight will pre­vent her from doing. 

Gabourey Sidibe for Lane Bryant

The hissed calls for Sidibe to ‘just lose some weight’ are a demand that she jus­ti­fy her exis­tence to her indus­try and to the world. As though lost weight is the fare she must pay the pub­lic to be well-regard­ed, or at least left alone. To some peo­ple she — a dark-skinned and heavy­set woman of direct African lin­eage — should not exist in the pub­lic eye at all, much less as a cel­e­brat­ed thes­pi­an. If she won’t lose the weight, she is expect­ed to at least self-fla­gel­late or poke fun at her fat­ness. For a long time she flab­ber­gast­ed folks by refus­ing to do either.

Recent­ly Sidibe has lost weight. She revealed to Peo­ple Mag­a­zine today that she got lapro­scop­ic bariatric surgery in May 2016 after a Type 2 dia­betes diag­no­sis.

“I just didn’t want to wor­ry… I tru­ly didn’t want to wor­ry about all the effects that go along with dia­betes. I gen­uine­ly [would] wor­ry all the time about los­ing my toes.”

And with that a slew of edi­to­ri­als were unleashed, craft­ing the nar­ra­tive writ­ers have always want­ed about Sidibe — that she is fat, has known it all along and is final­ly doing some­thing about it.

To me it makes no dif­fer­ence. Sidibe has always been what I desire in an actress; a skilled and intu­itive artist who shines in both comedic and dra­mat­ic per­for­mances. She con­sis­tent­ly selects roles that debunk the ‘black mam­my’ stereo­type many try to project on her, pick­ing char­ac­ters that make use of her wide range. Off screen the Bed Stuy, Brook­lyn native is fun­ny, smart and wit­ty.

If Sidibe is hap­py for her weight loss, then I’m hap­py for her. But when it comes to her weight, she owes me not a damn pound.

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noel­liste, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop cul­ture and black beau­ty enthu­si­ast. bell hooks’ hair twin…

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28 Comments on "Gabourey Sidibe Owes Me Not a Damn Pound"

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Let’s look at it the oth­er way. If Gabourey was anorex­ic you wouldn’t say that peo­ple should leave her, let her be. It’s not about her career it’s her health, peri­od. Now she has dia­betes. At just 33. Maybe in Amer­i­ca, that’s com­mon but the rest of the world that’s ridicu­lous. It’s not a fun­ny mat­ter. Please, don’t triv­i­al­ize health, just ’cause “I want to be ‘me’ ”

I don’t con­done fat sham­ing, it’s a ter­ri­ble thing but she need­ed to lose weight just like some­one who his anorex­ic needs to put on weight. It’s unhealthy.


This arti­cle and Gab­by are ridicu­lous. Every­body say­ing she should be con­cerned about her health was right. Now she’s got dia­betes and will for­ev­er love with that surgery. 

This is just the wrong moment for this type of arti­cle. Her diag­no­sis and surgery prove she was com­plete­ly full of ish. Please stop defend­ing this fat grab non­sense. Gab­by should feel sil­ly for con­stant­ly defend­ing fat and fat accep­tance. Obe­si­ty is not a joke and it’s noth­ing to take light­ly. Hope­ful­ly Gab­by and the author of this piece under­stand this.


Gaby need­ed to lose weight. Full stop. Peri­od. The fact that she has no gaps on her resume doesn’t change that fact. And thank­ful­ly, she has final­ly real­ized as much.

michelle spice

She still have work to do! Sor­ry the jour­ney has just start­ed!

Mathew Kendell

I have had such a great appre­ci­a­tion for Sidibe. From my per­spec­tive she is such a strong and con­fi­dent woman. She is more of what Hol­ly­wood needs. Men and women who can feel com­fort­able in their own skin. Proud and con­fi­dent in their abil­i­ties and achieve­ments. Sor­ry to hear about her dia­betes. Hope that she is able to get the dia­betes under con­trol so that it won’t hin­der her career or cause her any con­cern or fur­ther health com­pli­ca­tions. Keep up the good work. Thank you for encour­ag­ing our chil­dren to love them­selves as they are.

Guest Writer

I’m glad that she’s mak­ing bet­ter choic­es in regards to her health. She owes HERSELF that and no one else! And you’re right, she is a WORKING actress. If Adele and Megan Train­er can be “it” girls who are over­weight and still get work why can’t Gabi?


they’re white. white rules don’t apply to black bod­ies.

Let\'s be honest here
Let\'s be honest here
@yahya No need to go there because they are in a dif­fer­ent field than this actress. They are *singers* and their voic­es are their craft. Not their bod­ies. Actors focus is on their bod­ies as they embody a char­ac­ters. So it’s not real­ly fair to com­pare these women. Now if you said Melis­sa McCarthy, you’d have your­self a com­pa­ra­ble per­son. How­ev­er if you notice they expect the same thing of her… So stop drag­ging racial issues into a top­ic with­out need of it. I’m not say­ing that gabi is wrong either. She shouldn’t have to pick fun of her fat­ness in… Read more »

YES! Thank you so much for this. So many of us “non-aver­age-sized” folks are tired of our val­ue being deemed by how close to size zero we are. Even in my 40s I still strug­gle against the images before me, telling me I’m not enough — mat­ter how intel­li­gent or how much I’ve accom­plished — I’m “fat.” I am glad that this mes­sage is get­ting more and more play.


Faux con­cern? Even she was con­cerned enough about the bill effects of her weight to get surgery to improve her health. Too much weight is not approved of for health rea­sons that spill over into an aes­thet­ic that is not attract­ed to what’s con­sid­ered unhealthy.
While I get cel­e­brat­ing her skills irre­spec­tive of her fea­tures.. her weight is a legit­i­mate issue irre­spec­tive of mas­ter­ing her craft.. thus the two are linked by virtue of her celebri­ty.. peo­ple notice those in front of the cam­era and make assess­ments.


I believe the issue being addressed in this arti­cle was that those who were harp­ing on Sidibe’s weight were not real­ly con­cerned with her health; but that most feel she can’t be an accom­plished actress if she’s over­weight; as if her weight has any­thing to do with her tal­ent or what type of per­son she is.


So hap­py for her…


She was and still is suc­cess­ful with­out weight loss…perhaps it MAKES most of us uncom­fort­able to see some­one that big win­ning. in life–more than we will EVER do in life and is not a size 6 or 26. There are PLENTY of skin­ny actress­es NOT work­ing no mat­ter the col­or. It’s HER decision…weight loss or not…The world, heck­lers, crit­ics, the world, and Hol­ly­wood would have and find some­thing to say…with or with­out weight loss.…again, I’m hap­py for her…always have been. She ROCKS!

Belicia C.

This is a great arti­cle!


Good for her that she has decid­ed to do some­thing about her weight. Just goes to show that it’s most­ly untrue when obese peo­ple say they are hap­py as they are.


She was hap­py before the weight loss not because of it. Weight loss dosent equate true hap­pi­ness. She took con­trol of her weight for her own health reasons…not ours. She ROCKS!


Weight loss does NOT guar­an­tee life hap­pi­ness …lots of skin­ny and aver­age weight peo­ple aren’t con­st­snt­ly jump­ing for joy.….happiness…that’s an inside job…thin or not…it’s a mind­set.


Def­i­nite­ly missed the point


But I think you missed the point. She was hap­py with her­self, until she was diag­nosed with Dia­betes. She lost weight as a direct result of that, not some unhap­pi­ness with her­self.


True…different things moti­vat­ed peo­ple to change push, pull, pro active and reac­tive choices.…WE CANNOT ALL LOOK ALIKE OR BE super THIN…PERSAY…She’s GREAT…either way.


Awe­some arti­cle!!!


one word…AMEN!


What a per­fect essay. Thank you.


Very well writ­ten. I enjoyed read­ing it.