Gabourey Sidibe isn’t exactly some unknown Hollywood ingénue. After all, this is a woman who was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress after her deeply moving debut role in the film Precious, and has since gone on to star in hugely successful TV shows like American Horror Story and Empire. But famous or not, in an essay she recently penned for Lenny Letter, the actress recounts a completely unacceptable incident of racial profiling while shopping at Chanel, for which the brand promptly issued an official apology.
In the Lenny essay, Sidibe recounts the story of going to a Chanel store near her house in Chicago to pick up a pair of glasses from the brand she’d been coveting. Once there, the saleswoman informed her they didn’t have any eyeglasses, despite them being clearly on display next to the door, instead directing her to a discount frame dealer across the street.
The actress writes, “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. Explaining to me how exactly I should get across the street and out of her sight line, as if I were in kindergarten. I was trying to purchase glasses, and she was trying to get the interaction with me over as soon as possible. Just to be sure of what was happening, I made her tell me to leave, in her pretend-polite way, three times.”
“I knew what she was doing,” Sidibe continues, “She had decided after a single look at me that I wasn’t there to spend any money. Even though I was carrying a Chanel bag, she decided I wasn’t a Chanel customer and so, not worth her time and energy.”
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After her story was published, the French brand was quick to issue an apology, releasing a statement on Wednesday that reads, “Chanel expresses our sincerest regret for the boutique customer service experience that Ms. Sidibe mentioned in this essay. 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. 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. ”
Earlier this year the Empire star debuted her memoir, This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare, in which she writes about everything from undergoing weight-loss surgery, to her battle with depression, anxiety and bulimia.
“I just didn’t want to worry,” Sidibe, 33, told PEOPLE in March of her decision to get laparoscopic bariatric surgery after she and her older brother Ahmed, 34, were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. “I truly didn’t want to worry about all the effects that go along with diabetes. I genuinely worry all the time about losing my toes.”
She’s also taken on a role as body activist. In April, Sidibe penned an essay for InStyle about learning to ignore Internet haters and embracing her inner confidence.
“Ultimately, I like looking and feeling pretty for myself even more than I like pretending to be a queen with subjects. Negative comments don’t have to haunt me,” she wrote. “When it comes to how I look, my opinion is the only one that counts.”
What do you think of Chanel’s apology? If you were Sidibe would you shop with the brand again? Sound off below!
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