Gabourey Sidibe is no stranger to writing down her most inner thoughts.
In her recent memoir This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare, the Empire star opens up about her weight, mental health issues and recent gastric bypass surgery; and now for the Lenny newsletter, she’s sharing with readers an enraging experience of shopping while Black.
In her essay, Sidibe goes into detail about being racially profiled at a Chanel boutique in Chicago where she writes that she was nearly turned away when asking for help finding a new set of frames. She said that the the salesperson initially declined to help her and even had the nerve to direct Sidibe to a discount store across the street.
But Sidibe wasn’t having any of it.
“Just to be sure of what was happening, I made her tell me to leave, in her pretend-polite way, three times,” the Oscar nominee wrote. “I knew what she was doing. She had decided after a single look at me that I wasn’t there to spend any money. Even though I was carrying a Chanel bag, she decided I wasn’t a Chanel customer and so, not worth her time and energy.”
Thankfully, a few salespeople of color recognized Sidibe and helped her find what she was looking for, but the actress stressed that these incidents occured before and after she got famous.
“This actually happens to me a lot. My whole life. Both before and after I became a recognizable actress. It happened to me in St. Maarten on vacation after shooting a film, when I went to a Dior counter to look at lip gloss and the saleswoman literally took a gloss out of my hand and put it back down in the display case. It used to happen to me at my neighborhood beauty-supply store in New York, where I was relentlessly followed around whenever my mom sent me to pick up shampoo and Q-tips. Even when I was a teenager, I knew it was because of my skin color but also because of the environment. I lived in the hood. Being suspected of stealing is just par for the course.”
Sidibe also believes that she will continue to be treated unfairly because of her race and her weight.
“As a successful adult, sometimes I walk out of the store in a huff, without getting what I want, denying them my hard-earned money. Other times I spend my money in an unfriendly store as if to say ‘Fuck you! I’ll buy this whole damn store!’” she added. “Does it matter whether my waist is wide or if my skin is black as long as my money is green?”
On Wednesday, Chanel released a statement addressing Sidibe’s allegations:
“Chanel expresses our sincerest regret for the boutique customer service experience that Ms. Sidibe mentioned in this essay. We are sorry that she felt unwelcome and offended.
We took her words very seriously and immediately investigated to understand what happened, knowing that this is absolutely not in line with the high standards that Chanel wishes to provide to our customers.
We are strongly committed to provide anyone who comes in our boutiques with the best customer service, and we do hope that in the future Ms. Sidibe will choose to come back to a Chanel boutique and experience the real Chanel customer experience.”
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