Gabourey Sidibe Gave an Amazing Speech About Confidence and Feminism

Illustration for article titled Gabourey Sidibe Gave an Amazing Speech About Confidence and Feminism

Last night, the Ms. Foundation for Women hosted Gloria's Awards and Gala (it also doubled as an 80th birthday party for Gloria Steinem!). As part of the event, the amazing Gabourey Sidibe gave a beautiful speech about confidence, feminism and being inspired by other women.


Vulture has a transcript of the whole thing, and it's simply wonderful. Here are the glorious highlights: Gabourey started off by discussing how irritating it is when people ask her where she gets her confidence from (which is something Mindy Kaling has talked about, too):

One of the first things people usually ask me is, "Gabourey, how are you so confident?" I hate that. I always wonder if that's the first thing they ask Rihanna when they meet her. "RiRi! How are you so confident?" Nope. No. No. But me? They ask me with that same incredulous disbelief every single time. "You seem so confident! How is that?"

Growing up her classmates didn't like her because she was, in her words "an asshole" and a "snob." Her parents were hard on her, too. But she believed in herself regardless — "I think the reason I thought so highly of myself all the time," she said, "was because no one else ever did." This is something she's carried with her through her career:

"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 picture 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.

Her source of fortitude in the face of all the shitty people in the world? Feminism. According to Gabourey, she and her mom and her brother moved in with her aunt, feminist and activist Dorothy Pitman Hughes, and she found her daily inspiration there:

Every day, I had to get up and go to school where everyone made fun of me, and I had to go home to where everyone made fun of me. Every day was hard to get going, no matter which direction I went. And on my way out of the house, I found strength. In the morning on the way out to the world, I passed by a portrait of my aunt and Gloria together. Side by side they stood, one with long beautiful hair and one with the most beautiful, round, Afro hair I had ever seen, both with their fists held high in the air. Powerful. Confident. And every day as I would leave the house... I would give that photo a fist right back. And I'd march off into battle. [She starts crying] I didn't know that I was being inspired then. On my way home, I'd walk back up those stairs, I'd give that photo the fist again, and continue my march back in for more battle. [She pulls a tissue from her cleavage and dabs her eyes] That's what boobs are for! I didn't know I was being inspired then, but I was. If they could feel like that, maybe I could! I just wanted to look that cool. But it made me feel that strong.


Aaaand it started to rain on my face a little bit. Said face-rain quickly transitioned into a full-on tempest, because she ended the speech on a very moving "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" note:

If [other people] hadn't made me cry, I wouldn't be able to cry on cue now. [Dabs tears] If I hadn't been told I was garbage, I wouldn't have learned how to show people I'm talented. And if everyone had always laughed at my jokes, I wouldn't have figured out how to be so funny. If they hadn't told me I was ugly, I never would have searched for my beauty. And if they hadn't tried to break me down, I wouldn't know that I'm unbreakable.



Image via Getty.




Cue a million comments about how her speech was great and all, but guys, did you know she's fat? Not even just fat! She is MORBIDLY OBESE. She cannot be healthy! She is setting a bad example! She needs to lose weight because she is so wonderful and I don't want her to die! Let me tell you about how easy it is to lose weight (input/output!) and how important it is for her to lose weight! (That's pretty much what happened at Defamer.)

That misses the point. She is CLEARLY aware of being fat. You really do not need to point that out, so before you start, please stop. But even fat people (who may or may not be unhealthy, which we cannot know unless we are their doctors) have a right to be confident, and happy, and to believe in themselves. (It's amazing how people seem to believe that people Gabourey's size must be constantly apologetic for their size, and must acknowledge their unhealthiness and personal failings above all else. It's amazing how many people seem to believe that fat people are not allowed to be anything but Fat People.) And they also have a right to be represented in the media (and I'll just switch to "we" here, because I'm a fat girl too, Gabby) because we exist in the world and we are more than our weight and (as "Precious" showed) fat people (like most people) can have compelling, important stories to tell, and isn't it great to have awesome people like Gabourey to play some of those roles? Let's keep writing them. She's amazing and I love her and if y'all go all Concern Troll on her I will personally bake all of you into a cake and Gabourey and I will eat it together. ROCK ON, GIRL.