Chanel released a statement apologizing to Gabourey Sidibe after the Oscar-nominated actress shared her experience of being racially profiled at one of the fashion house’s stores.
In an essay published in Lenny Letter, Sidibe says she “felt unwelcome and offended” when she tried to buy a pair of glasses and a pair of sandals for Empire co-star Taraji P. Henson at a Chanel store near her apartment in Chicago. But one of the store clerks did not want to give her proper service.
“To be fair, I don't know why that saleswoman didn't want to help me,” she wrote. “I suspect it's because I'm black, but it could also be because I'm fat. Maybe my whole life, every time I thought someone was being racist, they were actually mistreating me because I'm fat. That sucks too. That's not OK.
"I've felt unwelcome in many stores throughout my life, but I just kind of deal with it," she continued. 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 'F—k you! I'll buy this whole damn store!' Either way, they win and I lose.”
Eventually another store clerk of color noticed Sidibe and immediately gave her better service.
Chanel apologized and said they would investigate the incident.
“CHANEL expresses our sincerest regret for the boutique customer service experience that Ms. Sidibe mentioned in the essay she published on a website,” the company said in a statement. “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,” the statement added.
Sidibe made sure to point out that she was dressed to kill when she entered the store, but that didn’t seem to make a difference. And not that it should.
“I was looking pretty cute. My wig was long and wavy, I was wearing new ankle boots and my prescription Balenciaga shades, and I had a vintage Chanel purse on my shoulder, over my winter coat with a fur hood,” Sidibe wrote. “I looked as though I were in a Mary J. Blige video. Just how I like to look!”
Her memoir "This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare" was released on May 1, 2017.
Read Sidibe’s full essay on her life long struggle with profiling here.