Last Thursday, Gabourey Sidibe gave a badass speech about confidence in relation to body image at the Ms. Foundation Gala. She talked about how upset it makes her that fans and interviewers are constantly questioning her confidence, as if her frame should automatically negate any sense of self-worth. As Vulture relayed her speech,
“Gabourey, how are you so confident?” It’s not easy. It’s hard to get dressed up for award shows and red carpets when I know I will be made fun of because of my weight. There’s always a big chance if I wear purple, I will be compared to Barney. If I wear white, a frozen turkey. And if I wear red, that pitcher of Kool-Aid that says, “Oh, yeah!” Twitter will blow up with nasty comments about how the recent earthquake was caused by me running to a hot dog cart or something. And “Diet or Die?” [She gives the finger to that] This is what I deal with every time I put on a dress. This is what I deal with every time someone takes a picture of me. Sometimes when I’m being interviewed by a fashion reporter, I can see it in her eyes, “How is she getting away with this? Why is she so confident? How does she deal with that body? Oh my God, I’m going to catch fat!”
I firmly believe that nothing really affects you or can really bother you if you don’t already feel that way about yourself. I’ve seen a lot of comments that say, ‘Eat a sandwich’ or ‘She looks sick.’ I’ve been looking at myself in the mirror being mean to myself. I’m not sick. I eat sandwiches. There is in no way is it my intention to be a bad example. That has been kind of bothering me lately. I’ve shamed myself for it. We shame each other online. We’re always too skinny or too fat or too tall or too short. They’re just confirming this feeling I have about myself. I’m trying to figure my body out. It bothers me because I care so much about young girls. We’re shaming each other and we’re shaming ourselves, and it sucks.
The thing is, Emma Stone has lost quite a lot of weight recently, and (to start the speculative ball rolling) maybe she is developing unhealthy practices. That definitely wouldn’t be unheard of, given the position she’s in within her chosen profession, making the move to “A-lists” and blockbusters. Or maybe she’s just developed new health regimens. (That Spider-Man money could buy one hell of a personal trainer.) Maybe she’s under some extra stress given the crazy promo tour she’s been doing, but it’s not indicative of ongoing health patterns in her life. Or hell, maybe she’s 25 years old and her metabolism is going crazy. I remember gaining and dropping weight for absolutely no reason at that age. Ultimately, WE HAVE NO IDEA. But it’s easy to speculate, to make judgements, to spew out our immediate thoughts on a YouTube comment board—I hear there are people who spend time in such places—and overshadow an amazing DJ Khaled tribute by focusing on her thigh gap. It’s also all too easy to forget that the person we’re talking about is not a inhuman public figure, but an actual person with feelings who may actually read those words and take them to heart.
So I lied in that headline up there. Emma Stone does care what you say about her body. So does Gabourey Sidibe. Of course they do. They may choose to ignore it, to rise above it, but mean things hurt, even so. That “sticks and stones” nonsense is bullshit. But as Sidibe said in her Ms. gala speech, “Nothing says, ‘You hurt my feelings. Fuck you!’ like eating a delicious cookie. Cookies never hurt me.”
Vivian Kane’s new favorite form of emotional defense is cookies. All the cookies.