Pret-a-Reporter

Gabourey Sidibe on Going Shopping: "I Either Look Like a Thief or a Waste of Time"

Courtesy of NBC
Gabourey Sidibe on 'Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen'

The 'Empire' actress shares a personal retail experience in which she felt she was being dismissed by a saleswoman due to the color of her skin.

Gabourey Sidibe may be known for her role on Fox's Empire, but that doesn't mean she's getting the A-list treatment — especially when it comes to shopping.

In Lena Dunham's and Jenni Konner's latest Lenny newsletter, the actress opened up about a personal shopping experience at a Chanel store in Chicago that didn't sit well with her. Sidibe recalled how she had asked the saleswoman to take a look at some eyeglasses — only to be told she could go check out the store across the street since it sells eyeglasses and the Chanel store only has shades.

"She told me the name of the other store again and exactly how to get there and let me know that they had lots of different frames, including Chanel. 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," wrote Sidibe.

The Precious star shared that this experience wasn't unusual for her, having gone through something similar at a Dior counter ("the saleswoman literally took a gloss out of my hand and put it back down in the display case," said Sidibe) at her neighborhood beauty-supply store in New York.

"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," she continued. "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."

Though Sidibe isn't entirely sure why she was being mistreated by the saleswoman, she had a feeling it had something to do with the color of her skin or her weight.

"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."

Sidibe's essay can be read in full over at lennyletter.com.

In response to Sidibe's essay, Chanel issued the following statement:

Chanel expresses our sincerest regret for the boutique customer service experience that Ms. Sidibe mentioned in the essay she published on a website.

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.

3:15 p.m. Wednesday, May 10: Updated with a statement from Chanel.

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