Last week (11/04/2015) on Empire, Gabourey Sidibe was the last of the hit TV show’s main cast members to have a “love” scene. Viewers went wild with fat shaming memes and terrible comments. While fat shaming is a terrible monster that rears it’s ugly head against any and everyone (especially women in Hollywood), I am not so sure that fat shaming is the totality of what’s happening here.
First Lee Daniels served us Gabourey as Precious
Her image was an overweight, fried chicken eating, illiterate girl who was hated by her mother because her father raped her which resulted in pregnancy. Precious’ relationship with sex was prominent in the movie. It was revealed during an award winning emotional breakdown by Mo’Nique (playing the role of Precious’ mother) that not only did her father rape her but that he would reach over and play with her private parts while having sex with the mother. This image is visceral to say the least. Lee Daniels’ could be wrong to assume that America can get over such a traumatic image so easily.
On Wednesday, Lee Daniels’ served us Becky
Since the topic most present here is fat shaming I will describe Lee Daniels’ choice to give Becky a love scene this way with that context. Daniels’ served us a “fat women need love too. Watch her throw her leg up. You didn’t think she could do that” scene. I am not so sure that it was a love scene at all. I am all for women of any size doing anything they want. What’s annoying is that Lee Daniels’ continues to serve us Gabourey’s weight as a prop then when social media erupts with comments and memes Gabourey is the one that suffers.
The fat shaming started with Lee Daniels’. It is challenging for an actor to play a role as jarring as Precious then transition into other characters where she is much more than a fat black girl who is good enough to have sex with but not good enough to love. It is quite possible that seeing Gabourey in the love scene on Empire triggered trauma for the viewer where the response was to bash it, get rid of it, or laugh at it. I cannot assume that everyone who saw Precious also saw the episode of Empire. The images of Precious and the storyline of the movie are public enough and well known enough (especially after the Oscars) for a large group of Empire viewers to have been susceptible to it’s striking images of Gabourey as a charity case.
I challenge Lee Daniels’ to consider being more careful. Give Becky a build up. Let her be kinky. Let her kiss. Let her engage in flirty behavior then transition us into her having sex. I feel like there’s a way he can acknowledge the trauma he caused with Precious while not letting it hold Becky back from getting the love/sex she wants. Gabourey as an actor deserves a little more tenderness. Not because she is anything other than brilliant and beautiful, but because the role of Precious is attached to her like Gollum!
ps. Thank you for reading! None of these images are mine but are googlable. Follow the blog! Till we blog again…