I was listening to NPR‘s All Things Considered last week and heard an interview with Sapphire, the author of the novel Push, on which the movie Precious is based. The host asked why it was important that the character be obese, and I found this question and some wording in Bob Mondello’s movie review (“her face so full it seems incapable of expression”) to be at least irritating and perhaps borderline offensive–I felt that they seemed to view Precious and to some extent Gabourey Sidibe, the actress who plays her, as some sort of strange curiosity. So I loved the author’s straightforward and beautiful response, in the context of an anecdote about a white woman who had approached her to indicate that, after seeing the film, “she would never look at an overweight black woman again with the same judgment.” It made me happy to hear.

After seeing this film, she had to deal with an obese black woman as a feeling, intelligent person as a person who dreams, as a person who wants the things that she wants. So we brought up a stereotype, and we cracked it open, and a human being comes forth.