Gabourey Sidibe says past struggle with bulimia 'wasn't about losing weight’

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Elise Solé
·3 min read
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Gabourey Sidibe recalled her struggle with bulimia on an upcoming episode of Peace of Mind with Taraji. (Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Bottomless Closet)
Gabourey Sidibe recalled her struggle with bulimia on an upcoming episode of Peace of Mind with Taraji. (Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Bottomless Closet)

Gabourey Sidibe shared realizations into her previously disclosed battle with bulimia, describing the eating disorder as a coping mechanism.

On Thursday, the Facebook Watch show Peace of Mind with Taraji, hosted by Taraji P. Henson and Tracie Jade Jenkins, aired a clip from a Jan. 25 episode featuring Sidibe. The mental health space, which airs on Mondays and Wednesdays, has highlighted Gabrielle Union’s experience with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Mary J. Blige on pandemic isolation and comedian Jay Pharoah on police brutality.

Sidibe’s episode explores the eating disorder she originally revealed in her 2017 memoir This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare. The 37-year-old wrote of her struggles with depression, panic attacks and bulimia, a disorder that involves eating, then purging food, to prevent intaking calories.

“Often, when I was too sad to stop crying, I drank a glass of water and ate a slice of bread, and then I threw it up,” Sidibe wrote. “After I did, I wasn’t as sad anymore; I finally relaxed. So I never ate anything, until I wanted to throw up — and only when I did could I distract myself from whatever thought was swirling around my head.” The actress ultimately went to therapy and was prescribed medication.

During the show, Sidibe compared the disorder to “a fun little button” that earned her praise as she lost weight as a result.

"I found a button, and on top of that people were like, 'You're looking good.' You know? So, I’m like, why would I stop?” she told Henson. “Like, this was dope, in a way. It’s like a self-defense mechanism, that's what bulimia was for me. It wasn't about losing weight, it wasn't about controlling my appetite, it truly was about how it stopped me from crying.”

Sidibe added, “It felt like I was controlling my emotions, I was out of control, I was getting worse. Being depressed is one thing, but if you add an eating disorder to that, that's a whole other monster that you have to fight."

The actress has also faced sizeism in her career, particularly during red carpet events. “There’s always a big chance that if I wear purple, somebody will call me Barney. If I wear white, a frozen turkey. If I wear red, a pitcher of Kool Aid,” she remarked during the 2018 MAKERS Conference.

She added, “Twitter will blow up with nasty comments about how a recent earthquake was caused by me running to a hot dog park. Diet or die, they say.”

In 2016, after a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes, Sidibe underwent laproscopic bariatric surgery, a weight-loss procedure that restricts appetite, that wound up changing her relationship with food.

Sidibe is recently engaged to branding expert and “BFF” Brandon Frankel, 35. “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,” wrote Sidibe in a November Instagram video. “My BFF proposed and now I get to hold him forever. The funniest man I’ve ever met. The sweetest human to exist.”

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