In May 2016, actor Gabourey Sidibe had weight loss surgery.
As Sidibe explained to People magazine, the decision to go through with the procedure was both difficult and personal.
Now, a year after the surgery, Sidibe is opening up about the reactions she’s gotten for her visibly smaller size.
While you might think that losing weight would earn her nothing but praise from the thin-obsessed world we live in, it turns out people’s reactions haven’t been too great.
As Sidibe explained to NPR, before the surgery, people liked to tell her that she needed to lose weight. Now that she’s had the surgery, people have felt compelled to warn her not to lose too much. It’s literally a lose-lose.
No matter what her body looks like, she’s noticed, people feel they have a right to tell her what to do with it.
As the actor explained:
“It’s important because I don’t happen to have the kind of body that we usually see on television and in films. I am plus-size, I have dark skin, and I am 100% beautiful, but I get a lot of flak. ‘Oh, you should lose weight.’ And now that I have lost weight I lost weight for health reasons I get, ‘You look good, but don’t lose too much weight because your face is starting to sink in.'”
Sidibe also noted the awkward comments she’ll get from others celebrating her weight loss for the wrong reasons:
“Literally someone said, ‘Congratulations, I see you lost weight. Congratulations.’ And I say, ‘That’s a weird thing to congratulate me on because this is my body.'”
Sidibe’s experiences exemplify the impossible beauty standards women face and why when it comes to weight you really should “mind your own body.”
All of us (but particularly women) are relentlessly pressured to adhere to absurd standards when it comes to appearance. These expectations are ridiculous when it comes to defining “real” beauty, of course, but they’re also ridiculous when it comes to defining our health.
A person’s weight, generally speaking, really doesn’t tell you all that much about their health, many experts say. And even if it could, what someone else does with their body is their business and their business alone. A person’s weight, in and of itself, is not something to be congratulated for.
Every body looks differently, works differently, and serves the person who inhabits it differently. And that’s important to remember if we’re considering the size or shape of someone else or ourselves.
Sidibe gets it.
“This has been my body since I was 5-ish, you know?” she told NPR. “It’s been a 30-year thing of other people putting their own stuff on my body. But it’s mine, so I will police it, thank you.”