There was a time in America when companies that did not want to hire non-white people were forced to do so because of the laws, such as Affirmative Action. So what an employer who did not want to hire a non-white person would do would be to hire a Black man, for example, and then give him a desk, a box of pencils and a sharpener. Everyday the Black person would come to work and sharpen pencils and get paid for that and nothing else.
What no one talks about is that although the employers had technically abided by the laws or the rules, they were humiliating the person that they hired because he had a set of skills and abilities that were being ignored and he was asked to sharpen pencils everyday. The silent message that they sent, of course, was that the negro did not belong in their company or office and since they were being forced o bring him in, they couldn’t risk giving him a task that might confuse his simple mind.
In the case of Gabourey Sidibe, she is the Black man and Harper’s Bazzar is the employer. Harper’s Bazzar has given the appearance of including a full figured, dark skinned woman in their celebration of diverse beauty but they did NOT! Instead, they bypassed full figured women, bypassed overweight women and decided to pick a corpulent woman and then threw some random clothes and pieces of material at her that are neither fashionable nor flattering. Even a corpulent woman can have a wardrobe chosen for her that takes her body shape into consideration and when she walks out of the dressing room, she will look her best and have an outfit on that flatters her body.
The lazy approach that Harper’s Bazzar took in dressing Gabourey shows that they neither believe she is beautiful nor that she should have been included. This is the prefect example of people who are much more interested in giving the appearance of doing something (appreciating that beauty comes in all shapes,sizes and colors) than actually doing it. The truth is that they did not even bother to try to dress her because they absolutely believe a full figured,chocolate sister does not belong in a celebration of beauty. In fact, to Harper’s Bazzaar there is no difference between a beautiful, full figured woman with some smooth dark brown skin and a women who although she may be a sweet and kind soul has had her body disfigured by obesity.
I know that there will be those who will get angry that I have called out Harper’s Bazzar for their sham of an “inclusive” celebration of women but let’s get “real” for a minute. There is a huge difference between being “full figured” or maybe even a little overweight and being grossly overweight, obese or corpulent. I’m not a medical doctor but even I can see that my dear sister is corpulent and I struggle to see why that is a “celebration”.
We can not on one hand say that obesity should be declared a disease (which it has been) and then on the other hand “celebrate” it. When was the last time we celebrated diabetes or cancer? And when was the last time we all got angry that someone said having cancer is not okay? But yet there will be those who will be name calling and taking this blog post personally because I suggested that obesity and corpulence are not okay and they should not be celebrated. That is not an attack on Gabby, nor on obese women; it is just stating the fact that obesity is not okay and that is why it has been declared a disease.
The bottom line is this, if Harper’s Bazzar really wanted to include dark skinned, full figured women, they had plenty of other choices of gorgeous , “chocolate” women and even more choices of women who are full figured while maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle. Even if they specifically wanted to include Gabourey, they could have chosen an outfit for her that was dignified and flattering, instead of humiliating her with both a collection of random pieces of material and some weird shoes, finished of with an even more weird pose.
Shame on you, Harper’s Bazzaar!
Nomalanga helps Black women thrive in their lives and careers. She is a Social Commentator, an Editor at Your Black World , a former College Professor and the reigning Mrs Botswana. Visit Nomalanga’s Facebook page or Follow her on Twitter