Gabourey Sidibe’s ‘Empire’ Love Scene Taught Me to Love My Body

Two weeks ago, my girl Gabourey Sidibe lit up Empire when she threw her very plus sized leg over new (and fine) boo #JPoppa in the midst of a roof top love scene. It was sexy and steamy and if those two would’ve had sex for real, I’m certain I would have learned a few new tricks because of their chemistry, magic and love for each other.


Like they always do (about everything), the social media-lites lost it once they realized that *gasp* fat Black women not only enjoy having sex, but they do it often, too. And if that weren’t enough, I laughed as I collected the tears of skinny bad bitches who realized that as fine as they are, big girls are still winning by leaps and bounds and unapologetically bagging men they want. Would it be blasphemy to know that those same fine men actually want those fat Black women, too?

The Rickey Smiley Morning Show has a bad habit of letting comedian Special K get away with bullying Gabby about her appearance daily. Special K basically makes a living off relentless “jokes” about Gabby’s size, shape, color and an obsessive love for greasy food that only he believes her to have. But like her character on Empire, Becky, her level of being unbothered about such jokes is unmatched and never stops her check! This kind of confidence, exuding both from Gabby and Becky, have helped me love me a bit more over the past two weeks…since that infamous sex scene.

When J Poppa propped Becky’s leg up as if it were a fresh piece of chicken from Pop Eye’s, moments before breaking her back in, I momentarily sat bug-eyed and finally squealed. Not because it was raunchy — the scene was actually fun and tasteful. My excitement came about because just as millions of people were reminded that we’re worthy of love and good sex, so was I. You see, I blogged about my being overweight last year; how it’d bridled my confidence and how I preferred burning pots instead of those ever-growing calories needed to get back to my high school weight. I talked about how I one day looked in a full length mirror and confidently said, “I’m fine as hell!” and dared someone to say otherwise. Those moments feel good, but I’d be lying if I said that they’re constant and plenty.

The truth is: I’m more interested in brunch than bathing suits, so when it comes to having sex I often feel…stuck, both mentally and physically. Will he find me attractive? Do I weigh too much? Bish, can I keep up? Shoot, can he keep up? Light on or light off? Why am I really trippin’? I drive myself crazy wondering all these things and here goes “fine ass Becky” getting bussed open and banged on a lavish rooftop while purring at the moon by a Hey Bae Collection worthy man.

J Poppa was happy to break Becky’s back in. The more excited she became for him, the more he wanted to pleasure her. (And you can tell he’s the type to spoon and cook breakfast the next morning.) How can that highly televised and often unseen Hollywood moment not inspire me to love me a little bit more? How can I not care just a bit less about the hoopla surrounding what sex should and shouldn’t be? How can I keep my needs and wants separate just because there’s a little more of me to love?

A few days after her now notorious love scene, Gabourey took to EW’s blog to share her thoughts on what that moment was for her:


Also, yes. I, a plus sized, dark-skinned woman, had a love scene on primetime television. I had the most fun ever filming that scene even though I was nervous. But I felt sexy and beautiful and I felt like I was doing a good job. I’m very proud of the work we all did to make that scene a great opening for the episode. I keep hearing that people are “hating” on it. I’m not sure how anyone could hate on love but that’s okay. You may have your memes. Honestly, I’m at work too busy to check Twitter anyway. #Booked. Hope you enjoy next week’s show!


As weird as it was, I did enjoy the next week’s show, but not nearly as much as Becky’s winning episode. While it took a couple of weeks for me to realize how impactful those 3 minutes on-screen were for me (hence the lack of timeliness of this post), I’m surely glad for it and hope other plus size Black women are too. While some found it repulsive, I, and many others, found it freeing and empowering, just the elements that any woman needs to truly love herself. My body is a work in progress and not nearly as dainty as it once was, but damn it, I’m gonna continue to love the hell out of it, J Poppa look-alike or not.


Ariel C. Williams is the author of The Girl Talk Chronicles and Editor-in-Chief of Slay Culture. She’s on Twitter as @ArielSaysNow.

Slay Culture


Slay Culture curates content and experiences for smart and lit Black millennials. Follow us online everywhere at @SlayCulture.


  2. I screamed at the Tv ” get it gabby” . I don’t know what people thought but yes plus size women like sex, have sex, and enjoy it often! I love how she handles negativity!

    1. Right?! Gabby is in it to win it and I’m here for how she represents. That was such a good scene.

  3. Thankfully I missed all the social media noise. I didn’t watch the show live but when i did, the scene didn’t even stand out as a big deal for me, i was mainly like ok Becky finally getting a story line, good. .but we know ignorance runs rampant online. people would have nothing in their lives if they WEREN’T able to spew online. ANd true to form, gabby sideeyed the madness and kept it moving.

  4. I don’t watch empire but I am tired of the jokes about her. I am big too and I enjoy having sex we do it just like the skinny girls and more meat for the cushion if something happens.

    1. YES, Kita! The conversation about big women and sex needs to be redesigned to show our authenticity: that it happens, that it is normal and that it is real for millions of couples around the world.

  5. I loved her attitude about this. I read the article right after the show aired. the truth is there is always someone to say something about all of us. a bit fat for my liking, a bit skinny for my liking, built like boy, built like a whale., etc. it is so important that we don’t let others define us.; we all get dates, have sex and have the ability to be happy.

  6. I totally missed the sex scene from that episode So i didnt know what all the tAlk was about. Im not big on the sex scenes In empIre or being mary jane. But im an eQual opportuniSt so if gabby union can do it then so can gaBby sidIbe!!!

  7. i admit when I first saw it I was applaud.. But then, I though.. wait if kim kardashian an make a video. Gabby can have a small scene. society has taught us to be comfortable with certain body types. when we should all just be comfortable with yourselves.

    1. Exactly, Lashonda! I agree with everthing you said. Gabby deserves for us to let her be great on and off screen.

  8. I am behin on Empire. I catch up on demand. But I did see part of the scene and as a plus sized woman I have to say “about time”. Yes we have sex too.

    I am always impressed by Gaby’s response to any negativity.