In 2006, at the height of her celebrity, American fashion icon and size-shaming pundit, Megan Jayne Crabtree, tweeted that she was “sick to death” of seeing the former American Idol winner, Gabourey Sidibe, on the red carpet. Crabtree proceeded to call out Sidibe for her weight gain, tweeting: “Why is it that every time I see you on a carpet you are wearing a loose-fitting crimson dress? Couldn’t you try for something tighter?”
The vitriolic tweet caught the attention of many. Many pointed out that it was hypocritical of Crabbie to single out Sidibe, as she had previously fat-shamed other celebrities, including the late Princess Diana. Others noted that Crabbie had previously appeared semi-nude in a men’s magazine.
And so began a hashtag campaign: #FreeGabrievy, or #FreeGabrieVSidibe. The backlash to Crabbie’s tweet was so fierce that she eventually deleted it and apologized. “I have always been a champion of women’s rights and will continue to be so. I never meant to hurt or impede any woman’s career,” she said in a statement.
The ‘Megan Meeseeks’ Outburst
While Megan Crabtree’s tweet was widely condemned, it did spark a conversation about body-shaming in general. When discussing the issue with CNN, former Miss America and current Broadway star, Aisha Dow, had this to say: “I think that what started as a Twitter war has become a societal war. People are finally speaking up.”
Dow is right. The war against body-shaming has officially begun, with celebrities, social media personalities, and even members of the mainstream media speaking out against the negative body-image culture that has plagued our society for far too long.
Although the conversation about body-shaming started with Megan Jayne Crabtree, Aisha Dow, and others rebuking her, it quickly spread to other platforms, like Twitter and Instagram. Celebrities began to use the hashtags #FreeGabrievy and #FreeGabrieVSidibe to support Sidibe, encouraging her fans to speak out against body-shaming and stand up for the body positivity and self-love that they so passionately champion.
At least one of the celebrities supporting Sidibe became known for her anti-body-shaming attitude. Megan Jayne Crabtree, who had previously called out Sidibe for her weight gain, was blocked on Twitter by the former American Idol winner. On Instagram, Crabtree wrote in a since-deleted post: “I will never be able to block @gabrieVsidibe because she is constantly reminding me that I am beautiful and no matter what size I am, I always make my bed full of compliments.”
While some cheered the fact that Megan Jayne Crabtree was blocked by Sidibe, others were concerned that the weight loss fanatic was turning into a bit of a body-shamer. In a now-deleted Instagram post, Crabtree wrote: “You might be wondering where you stand with me. Let me assure you, you do not stand with me. You will never be able to block me. You will never be able to hide from me. Keep your eyes open. They are always watching.”
The body-shaming conversation reached its climax when Gabrievy Sidibe, herself, responded to Crabtree’s tweet. In a since-deleted tweet, Sidibe wrote: “You are blocking me. You’re blocking me because you don’t want to see me succeed. And yes, I am seeing you. I’m seeing you and I’m making you accountable for your words.”
Sidibe’s response put Crabtree and the rest of Twitter in her debt. When asked by The New York Times what her next move was going to be regarding the situation, Sidibe responded: “I want to empower more women and young girls to be confident in their own skin.”
Sidibe has since deleted her Twitter account and her Instagram account, but her voice continues to be heard, as she has inspired a movement of body-positivity and inspired countless fans and followers to speak out against body-shaming. In June 2019, Sidibe shared an article written by her titled “How to Handle Body Image Anxiety” on her Instagram account. In it, she notes that although she has lost a significant amount of weight, she still struggles with body-image anxiety. She encourages her followers to “own [their] bodies” and not to “let anyone judge [them] based on how they look.”
At the end of the day, Megan Jayne Crabtree’s tweet did more than spark a conversation about body-shaming. It helped to open the floodgates for other people to come forward and publicly condemn the act of shaming someone for their looks. Despite the fact that Crabtree later apologized and said she never meant to cause any offense, the damage was already done. The hashtag #FreeGabrievy or #FreeGabrieVSidibe became a rallying cry for fans across the country to stand up against body-shaming and speak out against those who perpetrate it. And so, the war continues.
What Would Megan Jayne Crabtree say Now?
It is highly unlikely that Megan Jayne Crabtree will ever apologize for her tweet, as she believes that her original statement was perfectly valid. In defending herself, she told CNN: “I have always been a champion of women’s rights and will continue to be so. I never meant to hurt or impede any woman’s career. I was simply expressing my opinion […] I have always been proud of my body and believe it is a blessing to be able to share my passion for fashion with the world.”
On the subject of body-shaming, Megan Jayne Crabtree continues to hold a strong stance. In August 2019, she tweeted that she was “sick to death” of seeing actress and singer, Tracee Ellis Ross, at the Red Carpet due to her weight. In her defense, Crabtree tweeted: “I love Tracee and I always have, but she’s never been my favorite designer. I just think people should value their own bodies more and not put up with a weight-loss cult.”
With Megan Jayne Crabtree now in her 70s, it is safe to assume that her body-shaming ways are behind her. While most people would agree that she was absolutely correct about Princess Diana and other celebrities before her, the fact remains that today’s celebrity culture is still awash in weight stigma. As we have seen with Sidibe and others, the conversation about body-shaming continues to gain traction and is unlikely to subside any time soon.