Girl on Girl Hate

I posted this over at WeAretheRealDeal Friday and I thought I’d posted it here too — but didn’t! Sorry! Anyway, the comments over there are certainly worth reading. You can read it here or after the jump.

Do you remember that pivotal scene in Mean Girls where the junior girls are sequestered in the gymnasium and Ms. Norberry asks them if they’ve ever talked trash about another girl behind her back and everyone but Regina George (the Queen Bee) raises her hand?

The girls open their eyes and look around at one another and realize: wow, we’ve all been bitches to one another!

Every time I see that movie, I can’t help but wonder: what is it about us women?!

We claim to be sisters in arms, jump up to defend one another against men, moan about equal rights … but then go on hating on each other behind our backs … about looks, boyfriends, clothes, education, friends, careers, size, shape …

Naturally, since this is a body image blog, I thought I’d focus on that today.

It’s like if we’re not engaging in self-directed body-snarking (which I did a post on here) we’re snarking on one another. What gives?!

A recent example of girl-on-girl hate caught my attention.

I had heard that Howard Stern — who I personally find to be a vile, disgusting pig most of the time — had said some pretty heinous and cruel things about Precious star Gabourey Sidibe (including this quote I loathe to even share but know not everyone will click on the link so here it is — his words, not mine, for the record):

Howard Stern on Sirius Radio, March 8: “There’s the most enormous, fat black chick I’ve ever seen. She is enormous. Everyone’s pretending she’s a part of show business and she’s never going to be in another movie. She should have gotten the Best Actress award because she’s never going to have another shot. What movie is she gonna be in?”

Talk about absolute hatred, bigotry, discrimination … you name it, and the venom is spewed in that quote.

Yes, it’s pretty plain to see that Gabby — for however brilliant an actress she is — is obese. But it’s not like she doesn’t know it … so thanks, Captain Obvious …!

If you’re familiar with the novel Push — upon which the movie Precious is based you know that size was absolutely relevant to the role of Precious Jones.

And while I don’t think most people would look at Gabby and claim to see the picture of health, that’s not her job: she’s not trying to be a fitness role model or a nutritionist or something; she’s an actress — and clearly a confident, incredible and capable actress … and an Academy Award nominee — not bad for a 26-year old woman!

I was definitely enraged to hear what he said … but I was even more disturbed to hear another part of the story from a friend today — who told me that Robin Quivers, Howard’s FEMALE, African-American sidekick, was joining in on the hate party!!

I did a little research online to get some quotes. Apparently, first, she piggybacked on Stern’s assumption that she’ll never get work again: “… And Oprah’s lying and saying you’re going to have a brilliant career.”


According to Actress Archives, “On Tuesday, Howard continued his anti-Gabourey rant, comparing her weight to Artie Lange’s recent suicide attempt. “Like, I kind of don’t see a difference between what our Artie did – Artie tried to kill himself. And I feel this girl, in a slower way…she’s gonna kill herself,” Howard said.” Surprise, surprise, Robin still agreed. Robin said, “The girl is obese. You don’t have to be unhealthy to do that part.”

Now here’s the thing … and I might get flamed for this — I don’t completely disagree with Robin’s statement; there is some truth to it: Gabby is clearly obese … and I’d venture to guess that if she lost weight, she’d probably reduce her risk for heart disease, diabetes, and other illnesses that are often related to carrying excessive weight.

But she’s an actress, not a dietitian preaching fitness and health! And to hate on her in such a public forum — and to stand behind Howard while he called her such awful words and then basically told the world that her career is crap … just struck me as totally unnecessary and downright mean, especially as a woman.

I mean, really … if Gabby’s health was really Robin’s main concern, couldn’t she have quieted Howard down and brought the conversation about such a sensitive topic down a few notches — to an honest discussion about weight and obesity that was less hateful and more pragmatic/less judgmental?!

Regular readers of know I’m not an advocate of the fat acceptance movement … so I’m not going to be a hypocrite here and pretend I think Gabby resembles the poster child of perfect health; I’m being honest here — she doesn’t.

But does she deserve to be called “enormous” and other heinous adjectives? I think not.

Ultimately, what it comes down to is this: I don’t think anyone should be blatantly discriminated against for their size … least of all by another woman!

It’s bad enough Howard was hating on her, but having Robin join in on the party just seems doubly cruel to me, especially since I didn’t get the impression she really had Gabby’s best interests (i.e., health) at heart … even though she seems to use it as an excuse.

Fortunately, Gabby seems to be very comfortable in her own skin — a trait I admire a ton. It’s my hope that she has the ability to let cruel comments like these roll off her back.

As far as I’m concerned, she ought to take her new acting roles and dangle them in Howard’s face!

Then again, on second thought … she seems way too classy for that kind of child’s play.

How about you? Where do you stand on this story? Are Howard and Robin right to criticize Gabby publicly for her size? Do they have a point? Do you think they are genuinely concerned about her health? And what do you think about girl-on-girl hate, especially in a public forum?


10 thoughts on “Girl on Girl Hate

  1. Wow. I hadn’t heard that story about Howard Stern and his comments about Precious. ABSURD. No reason to be so mean and crude, but then, he epitomizes mean and crude I guess. But still, your point is a very good one- why are we as woman so ready to get into the girl-on-girl hate the minute the opportunity strikes?? We get it enough from men, why do it to eachother too?

  2. While I don’t think she is in good health because of her size she is a wonderful actress and should be judged on that.

    Howard Stern is just vile and bad mouths gorgeous healthy women too.

  3. The health issue aside, this whole thing made me think back to some of the very overweight/obese male actors over time such as John Candy, Chris Farley, Orson Wells etc no one ever said (at least to my knowledge) that their weight was going to affect their career. Such a double standard. I dont’ see her being cast as the romantic leading lady (based on how Hollywood is–I certainly think she could be though) but is that the only role there are for women out there? Certainly not.

    I have been so impressed with how Gabouray seems to be so self confident. When I saw the movie I didn’t know if she was a professional actress or someone who really lived that life. The fact that she did NOT grow up in those circumstances just show what an amazing talent she is, so believable.

  4. They are absolutely not concerned about her health, and it isn’t right to call her on size. Like you said Lissa, she isn’t trying to be a poster child for health, or even a poster child for “fat acceptance.” She just performed her art, did her job, and very well!

    Howard Stern and those like him run their mouths about a great many subjects that should be of no concern. Basically, I would say his show is a rant/rave about nothing of importance. He makes a lot of money. And so he and his sidekick keep doing it. Meanness sells. I don’t need to offer any examples. We can all think of a zillion.

    The more attention we give the negative attention grabbers…the more they will probably keep doing what they do. Publicity sells, negative or positive.


  5. I only saw a short clip of the show and I didn’t think they were concerned with her health at all. I heard two things. 1) They were making the standard “fat people” jokes (Haha, “looked like she took up 2 chairs,” har har so funny and original) because that’s what they do- they make dumb jokes for the really, ahem, “bright” people who find them amusing. 2) They were saying that she would obviously not amount to much because she’s fat and because she’s black. Ironically, the presenters of the clip I watched said that Howard was “not much to look at” and that “Robin is not that thin herself” (I believe it was the female presenter who said that). Anyway, it may be harder for Gabby to find roles, not being the standard cookie-cutter performer. But if she’s good enough and smart enough, people may write roles with her in mind. In general, I think people just put others down because they are glad to be in the club of people who aren’t getting made fun of. It’s totally an insecurity thing.

  6. I did not hear this particular show but so I am only going to refer to the specific quote of Howard that you cited:

    “There’s the most enormous, fat black chick I’ve ever seen. She is enormous. Everyone’s pretending she’s a part of show business and she’s never going to be in another movie. She should have gotten the Best Actress award because she’s never going to have another shot. What movie is she gonna be in?”

    Howard Stern can definitely say offensive things…I will not disagree with that. However, he also likes to say things that reflect the biased opinions of others in order to point out their hypocrisy.

    And in THIS particular quote…..he 1) said she is enormous…OK, have to admit she is and 2) then he proceeded to basically point out how Hollywood (and some of the audience) would view her…which is essentially unfair to her….but it could very well be the truth. He even acknowledged she should have gotten the best actor award, essentially agreeing that she’s a great actor.

    Like I said, I did not hear this show. But strictly parsing the specific quote you listed….I’m not really seeing the hate. I’m seeing Howard’s typical calling it like it is and exposing how people will likely view her, even though they’ll pretend it’s different….showing the hypocrisy in his own way. This is classic Howard Stern. He’s very self-deprecating and makes more fun of himself than he does anyone else.

    In the specific quote, I do not see him saying she’s a bad actor nor that she should not be an actor nor that she should not be in movies. He was speaking about how many would perceive her and calling it like it may be.

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