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"Gabourey, how are you so confident?"
May 2, 2014 12:23 PM   Subscribe

Gabourey Sidibe's speech at the Ms. Foundation Gala
posted by neroli (42 comments total) 69 users marked this as a favorite

 
I thought about including a quote to encourage people who might not otherwise read the link to click, but I couldn't choose just one passage -- really, it's all so good.
posted by neroli at 12:27 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by shen1138 at 12:31 PM on May 2 [5 favorites]


Can we not? I get the joke, but that's such an odd thing to take away from her speech.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:36 PM on May 2 [8 favorites]


Wow, that was like professional-level speech craft there. I've never seen her act, but I am incredibly impressed by her writing - great structure, flow, unexpected twists and jokes. She's a funny lady.
posted by Think_Long at 12:39 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Wish there was video! I'm sure her delivery was flawless.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:40 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]


I was just about to say exactly that, Pink!
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 12:41 PM on May 2


OK, first thing's first, Gabourey Sidibe's aunt is Dorothy Pitman Hughes!!!! AWESOME!
posted by Sophie1 at 12:41 PM on May 2 [9 favorites]


I live my life, because I dare. I dare to show up when everyone else might hide their faces and hide their bodies in shame. I show up because I'm an asshole, and I want to have a good time.

God I love her. Please, Hollywood, cast her in literally everything.
posted by lalex at 12:44 PM on May 2 [13 favorites]


Thank you SO MUCH for posting this. I'm so glad to have read it.
posted by bibliogrrl at 1:01 PM on May 2


Oh, man. She's amazing, and I love her.

I do, though--there's a thing, I think, where people, usually women, as other women how they're so confident. And no one asks Scarlett Johansson or Anne Hathaway--they ask Mindy Kaling and Gabourey Sidibe.

I'm sure that part of it is that people are assholes, but I can't help but wonder if part of it isn't that people are terrified. I think it's notable that it's almost always women who ask this, and a lot of the time, I can't help but listen to the question "Where do you get your confidence?" and hear "You are someone who is visibly defying the narrative that only skinny white people are worthy of our admiration and affection. You are amazing. Please, tell me how you are doing this, because I hate myself every day for the ways in which I am inadequate. How can I love and value myself when everything around me tell me that I'm too [insert marginalized quality or physical imperfection here] to be worthy of that?"

At least, that's what I always mean when I ask people shit like that. It's not how dare you. It's please, how could I.
posted by MeghanC at 1:05 PM on May 2 [78 favorites]


Boy that was really, really great!

Yay!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:07 PM on May 2


She has it, some of it was fortune, and yet it's her own making. I keep trying to make the equation work, but she's just her own.

good fortune
- both parents college educated
- aunt is friends with Gloria Steinem
- dad is around, his father was mayor of capital city of Senegal
- parents not teen-aged but in their 30s when they had her

strikes against her
- belittling mother
- sexist, racist, size-ist society

But her attitude is... nothing short of awesome.

Is she born with it? How do you get that kind of 100% internalized positive world view? To have a class full of kids hate you and yet not take it in?

I walked around the class trying to hand out cookies to my class, until I ended up back at my desk with the same amount of cookies that I started with. I sat at my desk alone, eating those gross gingerbread cookies that took hours to make, all by myself. I put chocolate chips in them, that's why they were gross. I wasn't surprised.


That's the attitude.

Chocolate chips did not work. Remove chips next time.

Dance at party anyway.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:07 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Best speech ever, man.
posted by Madamina at 1:10 PM on May 2


That's fantastic. I'm not sure I understood the stuff about Rihanna, but I loved the rest of it.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:10 PM on May 2


In case this thread is creating the impression that this is just an inspirational speech about being yourself despite how you look, or whatever, be advised that it turns out not to be so straightforward and is actually (deliberately) kind of thorny and a little troubling and beautifully written and really worth reading.
posted by eugenen at 1:11 PM on May 2 [9 favorites]


That's fantastic. I'm not sure I understood the stuff about Rihanna, but I loved the rest of it.

Nobody is surprised that Rihanna is confident because she's attractive. When people compliment her on confidence, or express surprise, it's coded language that large women of color can't (maybe even shouldn't) be confident.
posted by codacorolla at 1:14 PM on May 2 [18 favorites]


This was amazing. And you know what? Gingerbread cookies with chocolate chips sound awesome.
posted by xingcat at 1:15 PM on May 2


I love the way "I know!" is included in the transcript!
posted by BibiRose at 1:18 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Gingerbread cookies with chocolate chips sound awesome.

I've made the same mistake as Gabourey and trust me, it is a mistake.
posted by troika at 1:19 PM on May 2 [15 favorites]


I love this because it answers a question that has been hovering around in my mind for years as someone who works in the film industry.

So when you think of "Hollywood star" or "celebrity" or probably even "actor", you think of really beautiful people, right? George Clooney, Jennifer Lawrence, Lupita Nyongo, Robert Redford.

But working actors look like everything. For every one of those people, you have a Gabourey Sidibe, a Danny DeVito, a Miriam Margolyes. And not only do those folks have to put up with all the shit the conventionally gorgeous actors put up with, they have to do it while being fully comfortable with how they look. Because their look is their resume, every bit as much as is the case for Denzel Washington or Salma Hayek. And yet they can't be vain or self-conscious about their looks. They have to show up every day and say, "Yeah, I'm short, fat, funny looking, freaky. That's the REASON I got my job. This is what I am." And in all but a few cases, they do it for less reward, with less help and less recognition.

I'm pretty confident about my looks, but I'm not photogenic and hate appearing on camera or performing in front of people in any way. And I'm self conscious about certain aspects of the way I look/sound/move. Way too self conscious to do what Gabourey Sidibe does.

Thanks for being such an asshole, Gabourey. The world would be a poorer place without your brand of assholery.
posted by Sara C. at 1:28 PM on May 2 [7 favorites]


"....nothing says, 'You hurt my feelings. Fuck you!' like eating a delicious cookie. Cookies never hurt me."

sorry brb i have to go get a massive chest tattoo of COOKIES NEVER HURT ME in script
posted by Juliet Banana at 1:28 PM on May 2 [29 favorites]


Crying. So good.
posted by minervous at 1:52 PM on May 2


OK, first thing's first, Gabourey Sidibe's aunt is Dorothy Pitman Hughes!!!! AWESOME!

...and here's that photo that Gabourey fist-pumped to daily. Double awesome.
posted by mcstayinskool at 1:53 PM on May 2 [16 favorites]


That was amazing.
posted by rtha at 2:21 PM on May 2


That WAS amazing. Thanks, neroli!
posted by KathrynT at 2:27 PM on May 2


Oh wow, I love this speech!

...Now I kind of wish that Gabourey would stop showing up the other kinds of assholes in Hollywood and get to work on her plans to be president (with prime pastry-chef skills).
posted by TwoStride at 3:38 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


And this, this line just slays me: If they hadn't told me I was ugly, I never would have searched for my beauty.
posted by TwoStride at 3:40 PM on May 2 [5 favorites]


Thank you! This is resonant!
posted by classa at 4:30 PM on May 2


I saw this passed around today and figured it would be good, but then i read it and it's like 4X better than I even thought.
posted by sweetkid at 4:44 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


I love her whole philosophy. I see so many people scared of living their lives because they're worried what other people are going to think of their choices. No, it's not about being selfish or your choices trumping other people's, but just about being present in your own life and enjoying it, despite what other people may think.

I really aspire to that. I try really hard to do it. I think it's so awesome she is.
posted by darksong at 4:55 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]


I'm still not really clear on why oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips would be disgusting.
posted by sweetkid at 5:14 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Gingerbread cookies with chocolate chips is what she made. Less tasty.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:18 PM on May 2


oh right.
posted by sweetkid at 5:20 PM on May 2


I dunno, I think that is the best use of "Christ, what an asshole" ever. Assholery as inspiration.

I have had a shitty enough day that I am outside getting drunk on my patio on an empty stomach right now. But reading that helped.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:09 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Pretty tough cookie, she is.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:48 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


codacorolla: Nobody is surprised that Rihanna is confident because she's attractive. When people compliment her on confidence, or express surprise, it's coded language that large women of color can't (maybe even shouldn't) be confident.

Why do you think this is a race thing at all? Obese women are supposed to be ashamed of themselves, whether they're from the DAR, Tijuana, or Harlem.

There's more than enough antipathy towards obese people to explain it. If you're Halle Berry, you can be any damned color you want. Tattoo yourself purple, or drink silver iodide until you're blue. But if you're Bette Midler+, you clearly should be ashamed of yourself.

Making this a race issue makes it sound like big white women have it easier. From what I've seen, if anything the opposite is true - a larger proportion of my black male friends prefer BBW than my white male friends. But race really isn't the issue - obese people are disdained. Period.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:05 PM on May 2


I was that same too-smart asshole when I was that age but I took the opposite approach from doing whatever the hell made me happy. Instead I took to heart the message that I should keep my mouth shut and it only compounded the problem of no one liking me and had long-lasting consequences I'm still dealing with 20 years later. I'm glad Gabourey didn't fall into that trap.
posted by bleep at 9:23 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Rhianna never struck me as confident, at all.
posted by Omnomnom at 12:39 PM on May 3 [3 favorites]


But race really isn't the issue - obese people are disdained. Period.

As a fat white woman who definitely agrees with the second part of your point, I will go out on a limb and say that if you are in the USA, race is ALWAYS gonna be an issue, and that there really aren't a whole lot of ways that being black makes life easier. There is a lot of race-based fat shaming in this country.
posted by KathrynT at 1:38 PM on May 3 [11 favorites]


I would love to exude the kind of confidence Gabourey does.
posted by ichomp at 12:29 AM on May 4


I am so happy this was posted and came my way. Teared up when she got to the part about her aunt, and also wished I stored tissues in my cleavage. Learning to wring the good from the bad that comes my way, I'm still learning! Thanks so much for posting and thank you too, Gabourey.
posted by one teak forest at 7:40 PM on May 4


This is a wonderful speech and I wish we could have seen it live in video.

But, I was wondering about the part when she says "That's how I learned to cry on cue."

Is she revealing to us that the emotion showed earlier in the speech was an act? That it was meant to play to our (as in, her audience's) expections of what an inspirational speech from a "overweight" african american actress should consist of?
posted by cacofonie at 1:44 PM on May 6


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