If you were one of those people who were “outraged” or “appalled” last week when Gabourey Sidibe’s character Becky showed some serious thigh during an onscreen sex scene with her boyfriend on Empire, you should stop reading this right now and head elsewhere online, because I’m warning you, you’re entering a curve-friendly zone.
I’m not necessarily suprised by the amount of hate and fat-shaming Sidibe received, but it is disappointing because Becky was simply doing exactly what all curvy (and thin) girls do when they’re in love and the evening comes—feel sexy, make love to their man and just live in the moment. What exactly is so “awful” about that? Although some fans applauded Empire for showing a dramatic story line with at least one foot planted deep in reality, too many others took to Twitter and Instagram to express their “shock” and “disgust” over “having to watch a plus-size woman get intimate.” Really?
I would hope that in 2015, with so many women with curves ruling our TVs, Instagram feeds and favorite vlogs, it would go without saying that, of course, larger women make love too—and enjoy it! But maybe those people confident enough to go public against people across all sizes having a healthy sex life would rather insist they shouldn’t have to see it stretched to 60-inches in HD coming right into their living room. Either way, they’re the ones who deserve the shaming. And they should get used to it, because this is happening; it’s way overdue.
On tonight’s episode of Being Mary Jane, proudly curvaceous singer and actress Jill Scott made a delightful guest appearance playing Niecy’s mom Jackie, who was visiting from out of town. Jackie, a hairdresser who spends her life on the road with Nicki Minaj, wasted no time rekindling old flames with Patrick and the pair wound up having a sexy, passionate and curvaceous romp between the sheets. And, guess what? It wasn’t “gross”, “inappropriate” or “uncalled for.” It was beautiful, and it was real. How can we hate on that?
It doesn’t matter whether you consider yourself to be “curvy” or not, we owe it to all the women who have given their loyalty to shows who only showed women shaped like them in unsexy, non-glamorous, and at times even asexual, roles for decades to cheer for the moment they finally tune in and truly see themselves in every aspect of their lifestyle. I, for one, will continue to applaud directors and producers like Mara Brock Akil, Shonda Rhimes (Dr. Bailey has fun in the boardroom and bedroom on Grey’s Anatomy) and Lee Daniels for paving the way for all of our stories—even if everyone isn’t ready for them yet.
Charli Penn is the Relationships and Weddings Editor for ESSENCE.com and a marriage and lifestyle blogger. Follow her on Twitter to continue the conversation.