Family

Gabourey Sidibe lost weight. Then she was criticized. It says a lot about our world.

'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.'

Gabourey Sidibe lost weight. Then she was criticized. It says a lot about our world.

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.

Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Hulu.


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.'"

Photo by Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images.

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.

Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP.

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."

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less