Both women give moving and personal speeches at the Ms. Foundation for Women Gala
Both women gave moving speeches at the Ms. Foundation for Women gala, an event held at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City Thursday night that doubled as a celebration of Gloria Steinem‘s 80th birthday.
Sidibe described how the Ms. magazine founder inspired her while growing up. “In the morning on the way out to the world, I passed by a portrait of my aunt and Gloria together. Side by side they stood … both with their fists held high in the air. Powerful. Confident. And every day as I would leave the house … I would give that photo a fist right back. And I’d march off into battle,” she said.
That battle was the constant criticism of her weight, a challenge that the Oscar-nominated actress, 30, still faces.
“It’s hard to get dressed up for award shows and red carpets when I know I will be made fun of because of my weight,” Sidibe said.
But Sidibe has learned to use obstacles as an opportunity for growth.
“If I hadn’t been told I was garbage, I wouldn’t have learned how to show people I’m talented. And if everyone had always laughed at my jokes, I wouldn’t have figured out how to be so funny. If they hadn’t told me I was ugly, I never would have searched for my beauty. And if they hadn’t tried to break me down, I wouldn’t know that I’m unbreakable,” she said.
Schumer, 32, said she also found strength through difficulty. For her, a degrading sexual experience in college was a catalyst for change.
“I became my own fairy godmother,” she said of getting herself out of a bad situation.
“Now I feel strong and beautiful. I walk proudly down the streets of Manhattan,” Schumer said. “The people I love, love me. I make the funniest people in the country laugh, and they are my friends … I have fought my way through harsh criticism and death threats for speaking my mind. I am alive, like the strong women in this room before me. I am a hot-blooded fighter and I am fearless.”
Like Sidibe, Schumer admits she still experiences setbacks to her confidence.
“But I did a morning radio last week, and a DJ asked, ‘Have you gained weight? You seem chunkier to me. You should strike while the iron is hot, Amy.’ And it’s all gone. In an instant, it’s all stripped away. … I want to throw my hands in the air, after reading a mean Twitter comment, and say, ‘All right! You got it. You figured me out. I’m not pretty, I’m not thin. I do not deserve to use my voice. I’ll start wearing a burqa and start waiting tables at a pancake house. All my self-worth is based on what you can see.’ But then I think, ‘F–– that.’ … I am a woman with thoughts and questions and s–– to say. I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story – I will,” she said.
“I stand here and I am amazing, for you. Not because of you. I am not who I sleep with. I am not my weight. I am not my mother. I am myself. And I am all of you, and I thank you.”
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