Let Gabourey Shine!

By now many of you have seen the Harper’s Bazaar shot of Gabourey Sidibe (best known for her role Precious.) What she has on is not just weird, it’s terrible styling. This also falls into my snark exclusions policy. I snark at bad designers perpetrating disrespectful design and photographers perpetuating stereotypes. Gabourey is in no way at fault. Especially since this shot is almost definitely a pose she might strike as a joke and should have been filed away by editorial as a joke – not printed with the expectation that the fatshion community ooh and aah as though we’re going to just take whatever crap they try to feed us. (Yes, fat people can be quite selective.)

Since the Harper’s shoot ostensibly is about unusual beauty,that means there are three messages at play in every image shot:

1)What is beautiful about this women externally?

2)What is beautiful about her that comes out in these pictures?

3)What does this say about her place in our culture?

Let’s examine.hbz-september-2013-carine-roitfeld-collections-gabourey-sidibe-xln

So, with this in mind, what do we get?

We get a woman with a carpet on her head.

An actual carpet, tassels and all. Not only do we get the carpet, we get a fat woman clad in head to toe black, in leggings and heels. The only genuinely stylish piece is the trench coat.

I’m sure Ms. Sidibe is much too professional to rip the photographer a new asshole. I will be quite happy to volunteer. I’m sure, given this appalling shot and setup, that he’ll be quite surprised that fat women have brains and sensibility.

Now, we all know that Ms. Sidibe is just an amazingly beautiful specimen inside and out. She’s genuinely transcended cultural norms that most actresses live their lives in fear of. It gives her a chance for a truly unique and long career without all the organ-risking crap that stems from yo-yo dieting.

But I can only guess what the photographer and stylist were thinking or ingesting to bring about this insane disaster. To look at this as a piece of art and try to answer the questions, it just leads to more and more ugliness on the part of the people that set this up:

1)What is beautiful about this woman?

They put a carpet on her head, dressed her in black and hid the rest of her behind a trench coat. So from the perspective of photographer and designer… nothing. They want to hide her.

2)What is beautiful about her that comes out in these pictures?

I am convinced all the further that Gabourey Sidibe is a woman of grace and class. As many an annoyed marketer knows, I’m barely good for an advertise-y sound byte and even then you have to clip out the profanity and the excess of critical thought, leaving about three seconds of material. Sidibe, on the other hand, let these idiots put a carpet on her head and she continued to work it like a professional. She may be hinting at her comedic ability but I insist on interpreting it as a sign of her personal restraint, since the people she worked for this are still walking around with all their organs in their original position.

3)What does this say about her place in our culture?

From the looks of it, that she’s something to sweep under the rug.

A less classy person – say, me – would make sure my middle finger extended far out from under that Oriental edge.

It isn’t clever, it isn’t cute. It demonstrates how the “talent” at Harper’s Bazaar definitely wants the plus size buzz but has zero respect for the audience. Unsurprising – I distinctly remember the article where a woman “found peace” with her size 8 body. She’d been squeezing into size 4s for years. These are not people prepared for the perspective of those of us who actually need seat belt extenders and struggle to find peace with our 20 + bodies when we’re actively assaulted on all sides for taking up any space.

Carine Roitfield – shame on you, you ignorant twit.




One thought on “Let Gabourey Shine!”

  1. Good for you girl. The first thing I thought when I saw this photo is that she is all covered up. She is gorgeous, and beyond having a rug on her head looks like she’s playing peekaboo (and not in a good way)! Shame on Harper’s

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