Great interview in the February 2010 Harper’s Bazaar with Gabourey Sidibe, star of the movie Precious.
Regularly characterized as an overweight black girl, Sidibe shows herself in the magazine article to be amazingly confident and secure in her identity. She regrets that her attitude came too late in life, at “something like 21.” (Alas, poor girl.)
My favorite part of the story is her explanation of how she gained confidence.
“One day I decided that I was beautiful, and so I carried out my life as if I was a beautiful girl. I wear colors that I really like, I wear makeup that makes me feel pretty, and it really helps. It doesn’t have anything to do with how the world perceives you. What matters is what you see. Your body is your temple. It’s your home, and” she chuckles, “you must decorate it.”
My story isn’t nearly as bigger than life and glamorous, but Sidibe and I share a fundamental outlook. First you choose your attitude, then you live it. At moments when you doubt yourself, live the attitude you have chosen anyway.
In the early 1990s I was deciding whether or not to leave a bad marriage. Some days I was confident that I deserved better; I was raring to move on. Other days I questioned everything—if I could succeed, if I merited better, would I destroy my life rather than improve it?
Which of the two myself’s should I honor?
Eventually I decided to live always the first life, regardless of how I feel on any given day. Some days my decision and my feelings match up. These are very good days.
Other days the two are at odds. Then I make decisions as though I am confident and sell-possessed even if I don’t feel it at the time.
The perfect touchstone for any life decision is this: What would I do if I felt really great about myself?
As I develop my business, that’s the best criterion for any decision. It has never steered me wrong.
As an aside, I love Sidibe’s attitude about clothes. Black is a great color for clothing if chosen for its sophistication and drama. And it’s a lousy color if chosen to conceal weight or to hide in the crowd.