Even by my blunt-talk standards, Howard Stern‘s two-day-old comments about Gabourey Sidibe seemed needlessly cruel. Sidibe will, I expect, find acting work here and there, but not much. She’ll reportedly next play a role in the Showtime series The C Word and then a role in a feature called Yelling to the Sky. But Stern isn’t wrong in saying that her prospects are limited.
Yesterday I was asked to comment about Sidibe by a writer for Turner who believes that Sidibe may have broken through a weight barrier, and is perhaps positioned to strike a blow for other obese girls who ‘ve been discriminated against because of their size, etc. I replied as follows:
“I loved Gabby’s smile and vibe and I don’t want her to not work, but the only roles she’ll have a shot at playing will be downmarket moms and hard-luck girls working at Wal-mart — that line of country. Unless she drops the tonnage she’s facing a very limited future as an actress. No casting director would choose her to play anyone in the upscale executive world because — hello? — no one in the executive world looks like her. No casting director would choose her to play a gym teacher, or a big-wave surfer, or a Washington lobbyist, or a U.S. Congresswoman, or a park ranger, or a fire-fighter, or a soldier (I’ve never seen morbidly obese women in uniform…have you?) or a saleswoman in an apparel shop (no woman would trust her sartorial judgment), or a narcotics detective.
“Could she even play a cab driver? Could a person of her proportion even fit behind the wheel of an average cab? I’m just asking.
“Gabby is as out of the realm of mainstream normality as a seven foot-tall giant or a wheelchair person with polio. She will have serious health problems later in life if she doesn’t lose about half her body weight, at least. Whether we like to hear this or not, she represents a kind of low-rent affliction and a pattern of self-destruction.
“And you’re not doing Gabby any favors by coddling her with approving profiles and patting her on the back and saying ‘you go, girl’ — she’s got a serious problem. And you’re also telling other morbidly obese young women that it’s okay to be that way. It’s not — it’s bad for the health. Only in a country like ours in which the population is as addicted to crappy fatty foods as heroin addicts are to the needle.”
Okay, now bring on the hate and call me a terrible person for being insensitive, etc.