Gabourey Sidibe was born in Brooklyn and was brought up in Harlem.
Her mother Alice was a teacher who became a professional singer. Her father, Ibnou, was a Senegal-born cab driver.
Apart from Gabourey, there were two brothers and she also had twin sisters.
Unfortunately, her parents split up when she was just 12.
She was aware of her weight from an early age and told Nylon that her father had beaten her and called her “fatso” reminding her of the fact all the time.
She admitted that her childhood gave her “a lot of practice acting,” saying, “I grew up pretending I was okay when I wasn’t.”
She also shared with Nylon that “For a long time, my father was dead to me.”
She said she’s tried to move on, saying that “the six-year-old in me is still pissed, but I don’t think I am a victim.”
She apparently also had to put up with a lot of bullying from her older brother – he always had nasty things to say to her.
Because her parents split up when she was only 12 and in the fourth grade.
So she, her mother, and brother went to live with her aunt.
“Every day, had to get up and go to school where everyone made fun of me,” she says, “and I had to go home to where everyone made fun of me.”
Young adult years
She said that she actually had no interest in acting.
She rather wanted to go to college and study psychology.
So she took on a part-time job as a receptionist so.
Later, a friend came to her and told her she needed to go and audition for the lead role in the movie Precious.
She felt a bit of an affinity with the role as her mother had given her the novel, Push, to read which was all about this movie.
Even though she was a rather talented actress, she didn’t even want to go to the audition, because it would have meant skipping college.
But she went anyway, and it wasn’t long that Lee Daniels realized that Gabourey was the perfect star to perform in Precious.
Gabourey had leaned on her own experiences to portray Precious, who had been an obese, illiterate, teenage mom who enrolled in a special education project.
But Gabourey outshone herself and beat more than 300 girls to get the role, and very soon, this star was hanging out with all the other stars.
Precious received a number of accolades which include three Golden Globe nominations.
When she heard that her portrayal in the movie had earned her an Academy Award nomination for the best lead actress award, she jumped up screaming, ‘I’m going to get a car! I’m going to get a car!’
It was her dream to become a therapist from a young age
Gabourey was studying psychology at Mercy College in New York City because the subject had been a passion for her already from the age of six.
She said that by the time she was 10-years old, she was already “reading psychology books and studying therapy techniques.”
She also underwent therapy to help with her own issues, telling Andy Cohen from People Magazine that “I got a lot of therapy in my life. I champion for therapy — therapy is everything.”
In her 2017 book This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare, Sidibe talks about how when she was 21, her therapist at that time suggested to her that she should get a telemarketing job to pay the bills.
When the therapist said ‘telemarketing’, Gabourey interpreted it as ‘phone sex’.
Get her book and read it if you are looking for something sassy and serious – you will read about sexism, eating disorders, phone sex workers, hair problems, anxiety/depression, psychics, Twitter craziness – just some of the subjects that will keep you entertained no end.
In her sex therapy job, she had to keep callers long enough on the line to ring up the bill
Gabourey said that when she was the sexy voice on the other end of the phone, she had to pretend to be white because “The average caller is a white male and they wanted to talk to a white woman.”
But what she had seen at the sex therapy company that she worked for was that the average sex-talker was a plus-sized black woman.
She let most of the guys think that the person on the other side was their sexual fantasy such as talking to Megan Fox!
But in actual fact, they were talking to, “well … me!”
She used her voice seductively in the phone sex business
She was a phone sex therapist for around three years, after which time she started to work on the movie, Precious, which would change her life and bring in the bucks.
But she had learned a lot on the job that she knew would be of benefit to her in her acting career.
She took all that she had learned; the secrets, pleasure, and the shame, and used it in the real world around her.
She had learned how to flirt and in the real world, she knew how to ask for what she wanted.
She was not afraid to say anything to anyone and she was not afraid to be anyone because of the phone sex work she did.
She had needed patience in the job and this had taught her to survive.
She knew that when the acting opportunity came up, it was the right answer to say “yes” to it.
Today, she is an acclaimed actress, and even with her overnight success with Precious, she still retains her warm down-to-earth attitude.
She says of herself that she is just a “normal girl, trying to do abnormal things”.
But can you believe that she suffered from bulimia?
Yes, this actress reportedly weighed 300 pounds and she set about losing 150 pounds after going under the knife.
We are going to tell you about how she conquered her incredible weight loss that started her weight loss journey in 2017 and how fantastic she looks now…
Gabourey MaLingair Sidibe, born on May 6, 1983, starts her weight loss journey in 2017
Before undergoing surgery, there were certain sad events in her life that led up to it and bulimia was one of them.
Gabourey said she suffered from bulimia, something that she started suffering from already in her college years.
She suffered from suicidal thoughts and bulimia
It hasn’t been a sunshine and roses story for the Precious start because she also suffered from mental illness and you can read about her struggles in her new memoir This Is Just My Face.
Yes, she suffered from bouts of bulimia  and depression.
“Here’s the thing about therapy and why it’s so important. I love my mom, but there’s so much I couldn’t talk to her about.”
She explained that there were times when she just couldn’t stop crying, hating everything about herself.
When she did try to open up to her mom, her mom appeared unconcerned.
If she was sad about something and told her mom, her mom would tell her to ‘get a thicker skin.’
And when she was upset, her mom said, ‘stop nitpicking.’
Sure, her mom had faith that one day things would be okay, but saying it just wasn’t enough for Gabourey.
So she just kept her sad thoughts to herself and kept thinking about them – thoughts even about dying.
Finally, she reached out and did seek treatment.
She was diagnosed with depression and bulimia by a healthcare professional because she had told her therapist about her suicidal thoughts.
“I found a doctor and told her everything that was wrong with me”
“The doctor asked me if I wanted to kill myself.
I said, ‘Meh, not yet. But when I do, I know how I’ll do it.’
She said she wasn’t afraid to die, and if there had been a button, she could have pushed it to erase her existence on earth.
After her initial diagnosis, Gabourey has prescribed an antidepressant and went to therapy.
Today, the star still actively manages her mental health.
“I just accepted depression as something that’s part of my anatomy; it’s part of my chemistry, it’s part of my biology,” Sidibe told People Magazine…
She explains her bulimia was a way to cope with her depression, not to lose weight.
“I have a nutritionist that I really like. I haven’t felt like purposely going to throw up. For years, I have not felt that way. But if I ever do, I just have to remember to do the things that make me feel good as opposed to the things that make me feel bad.”
That’s excellent advice, Gabourey. She said the bulimia lasted about three years.
“Throwing up made me feel high. I felt a release around my head like a halo that made me feel lighter physically and emotionally.”
She told Nylon that when she was in high school, she didn’t want to be seen eating in front of others.
She said that when she got to college, she always wanted to throw up because she was so sad, revealing that she had always struggled with depression and panic attacks – that she had even contemplated suicide.
In March 2017, Gabourey said she underwent laparoscopic bariatric surgery – she did this because she had been unsuccessful in trying to lose weight by her own means.
This is to help with weight loss where the surgeon places a band around the top part of the stomach so that there is just a small pouch left to hold food.
With such a small pouch you soon feel full after eating only a small amount of food.
She says it was in no way taking the easy way out (but what does it matter if it was – good for you Gabourey!) as surgery comes with risks.
But she felt it was her last option.
She realized that her relationship with food had to change and surgery helped to do that.
“My surgeon said that my brain chemistry would change and I’d want to eat healthier. I’ll take it!”
That was not the only reason she went under the knife
According to People, another reason why Gabourey went under the knife was that both she and her brother, Ahmed, were diagnosed with type-2 diabetes.
Not only that, she said she used to be bullied a lot when she was young and this was another reason that prompted her to get surgery.
She says that her battle with weight loss has always been a personal pursuit.
“Yeah, I have been struggling with weight my entire life. I realize that as long as I have a body, it will be a struggle.”
Why did Gabourey Sidibe decide she wanted to lose weight?
All women dread hearing the words from anyone that they are “fat” and “ugly”.
That’s why there are so many haters on social media – those who feel inferior, unhappy, and guilty about their own body and appearance often want to show some hate to people who are doing something about it.
Often, if you are not the desired shape, size, or look, particularly in the entertainment industry, it means you could easily get ousted or not ‘used’ again.
People, too, often feel green with envy and threatened by good-looking beautiful people with beautiful bodies.
Gabourey Sidibe knows about being rejected, in fact, she was once told by a renowned actor that she should quit the industry because it was so image-conscious!
It was probably all of the above that made Gabourey Sidibe seek weight loss surgery.
But another thing that really made her take notice of her health seriously was when she learned that she had type 2 diabetes .
She was alarmed to know that her life was at risk, and it was then that she decided she had to lose weight.
“I just didn’t want to worry,” she said in the magazine.
“I truly didn’t want to worry about all the effects that go along with diabetes. I genuinely [would] worry all the time about losing my toes.”
She also said that she did care about her health, saying…
“It’s been my body my whole life, and I didn’t want to be afraid anymore. And I’ve been feeling like that for some time.”
How did Gabourey Sidibe lose her weight so quickly?
Soon after Gabourey learned that she had type-2 diabetes, she consulted with her doctor.
No matter how healthily you eat, you still need to portion control even the healthy foods; otherwise, you will still gain weight.
Gabourey Sidibe chatted to a nutritionist as well as her personal trainer so she could get advice on eating the right amounts of good carbs.
Good carbs are veggies, fruits, and grains.
Other healthy food would be protein and healthy fats  such as avocado oil, olive oil, nuts, and seeds.
5) Small plates replace big plates
The best way to practice portion control is to use a smaller plate.
Your brain tricks you into believing that your plate looks full with a comfortable amount of food, but in fact, it is much less.
6) She cut down on salt and sugar
Gabourey adored eating beloved Oreos, cupcakes, and fries, binging on them whenever she had the whim.
But since her diagnosis, she made a firm decision to give them up because she realized how high the sugar content was.
When you are diabetic, it is essential to control the amount of sugar you consume .
She followed an exercise plan too
After she started eating healthily, Gabourey could feel her energy coming back and she found that she was more active.
But she also knew that in order to speed up the whole weight loss process, she would have to get a personal trainer who would be able to help her get back in shape and help her to lose weight even faster.
Here’s her exercise routine:
She started with low-impact exercises. She would go on slow walks using the treadmill, the stair stepper, as well as the Versaclimber. She wanted to put minimal pressure on her joints. This cardio helped her to burn calories effectively.
She also did other exercise types three times a week – 30 minutes. This included leg presses, lunges, squats, barbell curl, and lat pull-downs.
She tried aerial yoga too and even posted an impressive photo of her working out on this. Maybe you won’t see her a whole lot in a yoga studio though because she has said “I hate yoga so much. Like, if yoga was a person, I’d stab them.” At the end of the day, “it doesn’t make any sense to kill yourself, because who are you trying to be beautiful for? It’s a mind game, not a body game.”
She says, however, that she does work out regularly by also swimming and riding a big tricycle, and of course, with the help of her nutritionist, is also eating better. She says she used to “swim 100 laps a day.”
Anyone can achieve the same results she did to achieve a better shaped; and healthier body. Gabourey Sidibe is a living example of how it paid off for her.
She is a motivation for anyone who wants to improve their lifestyle and overall well-being.
Just by following the right diet, and starting to do exercises either at a gym or at home – there is no excuse – you will start to see the results in just a few weeks.
… And she has found love
Gabby’s health isn’t the only thing that has changed her life a whole lot – something else has made headlines and that is her love life – that is blossoming!
She announced that she was dating a guy, Brandon Frankel.
He works in the branding and marketing industry.
Just recently she announced that they had recently got engaged after dating since 2019.
We will watch eagerly to see when she and he tied the knot!
Gabourey shared a video on Instagram of the two of them together flashing her engagement ring.
“It’s weird that people think we’re already married but I guess our hearts and intentions for each other are just that clear to see, Every moment with him is a joy.
“He is the partner I thought I was too independent to need.”
But after her huge weight loss surgery, she declared she was ready to receive gentlemen callers, and they have been calling, it seems!
“I asked my best friend to marry me, and she said ‘YES’.
So excited to spend the rest of my life with the most amazing, hilarious, beautiful, and inspiring woman I’ve ever known.
I couldn’t imagine a life without you. We make the best team, and we make everything fun and memorable.”
Can you believe that Gabourey’s name means “the one with the beautiful cheeks,” and her middle name means “my queen?”
Isn’t that a wonderful reminder of who Gabourey is and who she has become?
For Gabourey though, she says her weight was always an issue for her from an early age, with her battling her weight her entire life.
She told Oprah Winfrey that her first diet was already at the age of six.
Not only did her father call her fat, but so did her mother.
Then she underwent weight-loss surgery to get started with losing weight and to get her fitness levels up.
This was also because she discovered that both she and her brother suffered already from stage-2 diabetes.
She has a wonderful sense of humor and always lets this shine through, continuing to be a role model for young girls coming up behind her.
This is what she told Nylon…
“Listen, I’m a solitary, selfish person. I have no kids and I feel bad about my selfishness. But I hear people tell me about how my struggles have helped them, and I’m glad that my selfishness is helpful to someone else…I love my body and I deserve love. We all do, at any size.”
When it comes to weight loss, Gabourey has realized that the stars are really just like everybody else.
The people in Hollywood know that the subject of weight is often a very big topic, sparking countless discussions, articles, as well as tabloid features.
And so it can be pretty frustrating for stars to carry on a few extra pounds when they know that it affects their quality of life, and their work.
They know, inevitably too, that their weight will come under the spotlight as well.
That is why so many plus-sized celebrities; men and women, have made big transformations in their bodies.
Each of them has followed their own path, with amazing results.
Many of them started their own weight loss journey because of major health issues as well – they received a wake-up call, and this put them immediately on a new way of eating and exercising.
Gabourey is one such woman who changed her life for the better, because…
“I was in a war with my body for a long time. If I’d started treating it better sooner, I wouldn’t have spent so many years hating myself. But I love my body now.”
Frequently Asked Questions about Gabourey Sidibe (FAQs)
Did Gabourey Sidibe ever study acting?
Sidibe has had no formal acting training. She auditioned for Precious only because a friend suggested she do it and this spurred her on. Now she is a star and it’s because she put her whole heart into her audition, and she got the role. Oprah Winfrey said of Gabourey’s performance on Precious - "She's a superb actress because Precious's story is nothing like her story."
What good advice does Gabourey give people?
She revealed to Us Magazine that the best advice she had ever heard was to just simply shake hands with rejection. She says that in life, you will fail probably more than you will win, so you need to get used to that and keep moving forward. She also hopes that her success in her movie career will encourage and motivate others to follow and chase after their dreams.
Initially, she didn’t want to do acting for a living, although it helped her in school. That is why she encourages young people now to find their own passions. "Junior high school sucked for me. High school sucked for me," she says. But she says that once you decide to start feeling great about yourself is when you do feel great ... you have to figure out what about yourself you love."
What are Gabourey’s Meatless Mondays about?
Gabourey’s Instagram account allowed fans to get an insight into how her eating habits changed. She revealed to her fans on her Instagram account, which has around 1.5 million followers, that she had started “Meatless Mondays”. She told all her fans that she tries to go meatless on Mondays. She is trying to cook more now and made her own recipe from a friend of hers called ‘spicy cabbage mix stir fry.’
Did she really become a model for Lane Bryant?
Somewhere in 2016, Gabourey was a model for Lane Bryant. Just look how stunning and alluring her modeling ad looks in the subway. Fans started to take notice of her ‘new’ shape that was changing all the more as she posted pics of herself on Instagram.
She is a reminder that representation and diversity in fashion, be it about the size, gender, or ethnicity, is all-important. Fashion and beauty are so inspirational, especially when we can relate to people who have suffered the same setbacks and weight problems as so many others have; and her poster with Lane Bryant celebrates all women; amazing women.
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