When painter Sam Spratt asked Gabourey Sidibe how she’d like to be portrayed in his latest piece, she replied:
I guess … did you ever watch the show Community? Ya know how the school’s mascot is the human being? I mean, I don’t want to be a grey faceless spandex blob like that, but I’d like to just be a human being. Not someone’s message or idea of what I stand for because of what I look like, just a human, how you’d paint me if I were anyone else.
Some of us are guilty of seeing Gabourey as “someone’s message or idea” because of “what she looks like”. While other celebrities are themselves on the red carpet, she becomes the face for big, dark-skinned women. While other actresses are simply characters during love scenes in films, Gabourey becomes the representative of big women who find love (via her role on Empire). But why is that? Why can’t she just be a human being?
In this painting, I see a person … an individual. Not a representative. Not a symbol. Not a cause. Gabourey is painted like anyone else.