When Fat-Shaming Goes Mainstream: that Gabourey Sidibe Sex Scene

One plus-size girl’s response to some of the fat-shaming negativity following Gabourey Sidibe’s sex scene in Empire.

When Gabourey Sidibe perfomed a fairly typical sex scene in the sitcom Empire, the Internet exploded with fat-shaming hatred. | Plus Size Life.co.uk

(Spoiler alert: the Empire scene mentioned in this article has not aired in the UK at the time of writing)

First outspoken, trying-too-hard “comedienne” vlogger Nicole Arbour launched into a fat-shaming video from the false viewpoint as someone who wanted to keep “big, sassy black women in church dresses” around because they were her “favourite thing in the world”. But this isn’t another response to Nicole Arbour’s hateful video; this is a whole other issue.

Backlash from this vlogger’s hateful video resulted in her allegedly being fired.

When Gabourey Sidibe performed a fairly typical sex scene in the sitcom Empire, the Internet exploded with fat-shaming hatred. Within hours, hateful memes, social media posts and criticism took the web by storm with some  stating that the scene was disgusting. Centered at the heart of the backlash was the fact that people were uncomfortable with witnessing, someone of Gabby’s size engaging in sex.

We are so unaccustomed to seeing real bodies, much less real bodies having sex. The media, TV and movies have made sex into a stylized session of thrusting and moaning with mouths hung open and eyes closed, a past time reserved for those with thigh gaps and washboard abs. Anything that doesn’t look like this becomes the butt of mean-spirited, childish jokes. American society seems to have finally moved on from televised homosexuality being taboo and as evidenced in a number of scenes in popular sitcoms over the past year (How to Get Away with Murder, Pretty Little Liars and Orange is the New Black, to name a few) is comfortable (as it should be!) with watching lesbians and gay guys get it on on screen.

But let someone larger than a size 2 spread her legs and there’s dramatic gagging, retching and reaching for the puke bag … and that’s a problem.

Steamy gay sex scene from How to Get Away with Murder

This isn’t a comfortable post to write, and to be honest, I didn’t create this blog to become this type of platform for body positivity. I want to inspire people to feel comfortable and confident with who they are, not wag my finger at a bunch of ignorant naysayers, but I can’t ignore this. Mostly because, some of my own “friends” on social media are in on the hurtful jokes. Check out this conversation I pulled from a former Facebook friend’s profile as the infamous scene aired:

Jokes and hurtful comments following Gabby Sidibe's Empire sex scene as seen on Facebook | Plus Size Life.co.uk

It’s absolutely disgusting that anyone can take such a negative viewpoint to someone else’s body. The amazing thing about bodies is that they can all be so different and remain beautiful. The sad thing about society today is we get trapped into thinking that unless something is what we consider to be beautiful, it is ugly. I’m not saying we all have to be attracted to the same body shape or type, but not being attracted to someone is completely different from disrespecting them and feeling sickened by the thought of them making love. As if sex was reserved only for people of a certain size, race or gender!

Trying to be humorous, my friend who is of average size and weight but (from what I can gleam from social media) has yet to be in a committed relationship, asks “What have I been doing wrong????” insinuating that if someone who looks like Gabourey Sidibe can get laid, surely she could, too. To tell you the truth, I don’t know what she’s been doing wrong, but I imagine that it has something to do with her hateful, negative attitude and the fact that she needs to rely on making others feel bad about themselves in order to feel good about herself. But that’s just a guess.

This is what Gabourey Sidibe told America’s Entertainment Weekly in response to the negativity about her scene:

I, a plus sized, dark-skinned woman, had a love scene on primetime television. I had the most fun ever filming that scene even though I was nervous. But I felt sexy and beautiful and I felt like I was doing a good job. I’m very proud of the work we all did to make that scene a great opening for the episode. I keep hearing that people are “hating” on it. I’m not sure how anyone could hate on love but that’s okay. You may have your memes. Honestly, I’m at work too busy to check Twitter anyway. #Booked. Hope you enjoy next week’s show!

I’m not dumb enough to think Gabby needs anyone to fight her corner, much less a Manchester-based plus size blogger she’ll never meet, but the negative response to the Gabourey Sidibe sex scene goes beyond her and is about more than those few moments on camera.

You see, given the reactions to this scene, one of two things will happen. Either some other plus size actress will spread her legs and brave doing a sex scene or this will be the last we see of big, beautiful women getting their freak on on our TVs. But knowing my curvy sisters, I doubt this would be the last anyone sees of a curvaceous woman indulging in her God-given right to enjoy herself and to enjoy sex. Sex is beautiful, natural and something that every able adult can and should enjoy, size aside.

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