When Gabourey Sidibe graced the red carpet at the 82nd Academy Awards in a stunning royal blue gown, the cameras couldn’t focus on anyone else. However, that was not the only reason she became the main focus of the March 2010 event.
Before she graced the red carpet, people were whispering about the 26-year-old who had stolen the screen in the 2009 movie Precious. She played a young girl in a poor community who is raped by her father, resulting in two pregnancies.
The harrowing storyline and the fact that she’d never acted before didn’t deter Sidibe from delivering a breakthrough performance.
So it was no surprise when the New York native was nominated for the Best Actress Award at the Oscars that year, alongside Hollywood veterans like Meryl Streep, Sandra Bullock and Carey Mulligan.
While she may not have won the highly-coveted gong (Sandra Bullock did for her performance in The Blind Side), Sidibe did become solidified as a star that night.
However, the majority of the attention that Sidibe received was not for her standout debut performance, but for her weight.
The young actress became a victim of fat shaming online as cruel comments began to flood in against the talented star. Sidibe recalled a particularly painful story in which Joan Cusack told her that she should “quit” the business because “it’s so image-conscious.”
Thankfully, Sidibe didn’t quit. However, she struggled with the world that she had now been catapulted into. In her book, This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare, the 34-year-old actress revealed that she has suffered from depression since college.
“I couldn’t stop crying. I hated everything about myself,” she wrote in a particularly heart-breaking section of the autobiography, before going on to discuss her struggles with bulimia.
“Often, when I was too sad to stop crying, I drank a glass of water and ate a slice of bread, and then I threw it up,” she recalled. “After I did, I wasn’t as sad anymore; I finally relaxed. So I never ate anything until I wanted to throw up – and only when I did could I distract myself from whatever thought was swirling around my head.”
Luckily, Sidibe sought help. “I found a doctor and told her everything that was wrong with me. I’d never run down the entire list before, but as I heard myself, I could sense that dealing with this on my own was definitely no longer an option,” she wrote.
Sidibe, who is currently a season regular on the hit show Empire, concludes by explaining how she now manages her mental health as well as her bulimia, which she insists was a way of her coping with her depression and never to help her lose weight.
“I have a nutritionist that I really like,” she revealed. “I haven’t felt like purposely going to throw up. For years, I have not felt that way. But if I ever do, I just have to remember to do the things that make me feel good as opposed to the things that make me feel bad.”
Not only is Sidibe consciously eating carefully, but she is combining this with regular exercise, which she documents on her Instagram account where she has 1.3 million followers.
Inevitably, this combination has seen Sidibe lose weight, although she doesn’t appreciate attention being drawn to this fact.
“Since I’ve been losing weight over the past year, people have been saying, ‘Congratulations on your weight loss!’ It doesn’t rock me,” she revealed. “It just annoys me because I’m just like, don’t congratulate me on that. If you’re going to congratulate me on my weight loss, also congratulate me every time I pee.”
“That’s weird to me because my body will always be my body and always had been, and you have nothing to do with it, and you’re kind of a stranger.”
Sidibe underwent weight loss surgery in 2017 after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
“It has taken me years to realize that what I was born with is all beautiful. I did not get this surgery to be beautiful. I did it so I can walk around comfortably in heels… I don’t want to be in pain every time I walk up a flight of stairs.”
”I know I’m beautiful in my current face and my current body. What I don’t know about is the next body. I admit it, I hope to God I don’t get skinny. If I could lose enough to just be a little chubby, I’ll be over the moon! Will I still be beautiful then? Probably. My beauty doesn’t come from a mirror. It never will.”