Bless Gabourey Sidibe. The actress recently took the stage and delivered an inspiring and witty speech at the Ms. Foundation for Women's Gloria Awards and Gala to honor feminist-activist Gloria Steinem on her 80th birthday about confidence, growing up as an a--hole, and why she believed in herself when everyone else seemed to hate her. Sidibe starts by recounting a moment in fifth grade when her class was to celebrate the holidays with a party before Christmas break. In her excitement, she attempted to bake gingerbread cookies only to be rejected by every student in her class.
"No one took a cookie. No one. No one except Nicholas, who was the first person I offered one to. But after a few of our other classmates set him straight, he actually caught up with me as I walked around the class, and gave the cookie back," Sidibe said. "I walked around the class trying to hand out cookies to my class, until I ended up back at my desk with the same amount of cookies that I started with. I sat at my desk alone, eating those gross gingerbread cookies that took hours to make, all by myself."
"I wasn't surprised," she continued. "I just forgot for a moment that my entire class hated me. I had zero friends from the fourth grade to the sixth grade. Who the hell was I baking cookies for? I really got so excited to bake that I had forgotten that everyone hated my guts. Why didn't they like me? I was fat, yes. I had darker skin and weird hair, yes. But the truth is this isn't a story about bulling, or color, or weight. They hated me because... I was an a--hole!"
Not only did Sidibe feel like she was smarter, funnier and "all around wittier than them," but she also made sure to let her classmates know at every turn how much better she was.
"The point is I was a snob. I thought I was better than the kids in my class, and I let them know it. That's why they didn't like me. I think the reason I thought so highly of myself all the time was because no one else ever did," she said.
At school, her classmates hated her and at home, while she was often touted as the smarter one when her parents would yell at her slacking older brother, they didn't praise her directly. Instead, they would comment on her weight and berate her for looking the way she did. But did she let the criticisms that surrounded her keep her from enjoying life? Absolutely not, not back in the fifth grade and not today.
"I joined the limbo, and ate chips, and drank soda, and I enjoyed myself, even though no one wanted me there," she said of her fifth grade party. "You know why? I told you — I was an a--hole! I wanted that party! And what I want trumps what 28 people want me to do, especially when what they want me to do is leave. I had a great time. I did. And if I somehow ruined my classmates' good time, then that's on them. 'How are you so confident?' 'I'm an a--hole!' OK? It's my good time, and my good life, despite what you think of me. I live my life because I dare. I dare to show up when everyone else might hide their faces and hide their bodies in shame. I show up because I'm an a--hole, and I want to have a good time."
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(Photo: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Ms. Foundation For Women)