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… 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.


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.


Definitely missed the point


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.


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!


Awesome article!!!


one word…AMEN!


What a perfect essay. Thank you.


Very well written. I enjoyed reading it.