Gabourey Sidibe opened up about being discriminated against in high-end stores, saying, “I either look like a thief or a waste of time”

In what seems to be yet another reminder that racism is alive and well, Gabourey Sidibe was discriminated against in a high-end store. The Oscar nominated actress recently penned a letter for Lenny Letter in which she shared details of an incident of racial profiling while shopping at Chanel.

In the letter for Lenny, Sidibe described visiting a Chanel store near her Chicago home to pick up a pair of frames. But what should have been a pleasant shopping experience quickly went south after the saleswoman informed Gabby they didn’t have any eyeglasses, despite the frames being clearly displayed by the entrance of the store. The saleswoman even suggested the actress try a discount frame dealer across the street.

via giphy

Gabourey wrote,

“I’d love to pretend she was being polite, and I’m sure she would love to pretend she was polite, but she was actually condescending. Explaining to me how exactly I should get across the street and out of her sight line, as if I were in kindergarten. I was trying to purchase glasses, and she was trying to get the interaction with me over as soon as possible. Just to be sure of what was happening, I made her tell me to leave, in her pretend-polite way, three times.

“I knew what she was doing,” Sidibe continues, “She had decided after a single look at me that I wasn’t there to spend any money. Even though I was carrying a Chanel bag, she decided I wasn’t a Chanel customer and so, not worth her time and energy.”

Gabourey noted that it wasn’t until a few other store employees recognized her as a celebrity that the saleswoman suddenly changed her tune and, you know, treated her like the paying customer she was.

This isn’t the first incident of racial profiling we’ve heard and it probably won’t be the last. However, it is important to share these stories in the hopes that people will think twice before judging anyone based solely on the color of their skin.

Gabourey closed with,

No matter how dressed up I get, I'm never going to be able to dress up my skin color to look like what certain people perceive to be an actual customer. Depending on the store, I either look like a thief or a waste of time. There doesn't seem to be a middle ground between no attention and too much attention.

After the essay was released, Chanel issued a statement of apology saying,

“Chanel expresses our sincerest regret for the boutique customer service experience that Ms. Sidibe mentioned in this essay. We are sorry that she felt unwelcome and offended. We took her words very seriously and immediately investigated to understand what happened, knowing that it is absolutely not in line with the high standards that Chanel wishes to provide to our customers.”

No one should have to experience this kind of discrimination. We’re sending you so much love, Gabourey. Thank you for sharing your story.

Filed Under