Gabourey Sidibe is opening up about her painful childhood -- and revealing how it helps fuel her confidence today.
During an emotional speech at the Ms. Foundation for Women Gala in New York City on May 1, Yahoo reports, Sidibe, 30, admits she didn't have any friends when she was in fourth through sixth grades. After baking cookies for her class as a fifth grader, she was devastated when none of her peers wanted one.
"I had forgotten that everyone hated my guts," she told an audience that included Kathy Najimy. "Why didn't they like me? I was fat, yes. I had darker skin and weird hair, yes. But the truth is, this isn't a story about bullying, or color, or weight. They hated me because … I was an a------."
The actress, who earned an Oscar nomination for 2009's "Precious" and appeared in "American Horror Story: Coven," says it's tough to face criticism for her weight. "It's not easy. 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 told the crowd. "There's always a big chance if I wear purple, I will be compared to Barney. If I wear white, a frozen turkey. And if I wear red, that pitcher of Kool-Aid that says, 'Oh, yeah!' Twitter will blow up with nasty comments about how the recent earthquake was caused by me running to a hot dog cart or something."
Despite these setbacks, Sidibe says she refuses to let fear of criticism hold her back. "I live my life because I dare. I dare to show up when everyone else might hide their faces and hide their bodies in shame," she added. "My mother and my father love me. … I'm grateful to them and to my fifth-grade class because if they hadn't made me cry, I wouldn't be able to cry on cue now.
"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," she continued. "If they hadn't told me I was ugly, I never would have searched for my beauty."