I'm not judging girls who look like Sidibe in life, but her image onscreen is jarring to the point of being transgressive, its only equivalent to be seen in John Waters's pointedly outrageous carnivals. Her head is a balloon on the body of a zeppelin, her cheeks so inflated they squash her eyes into slits. Her expression is either surly or unreadable. Even with her voice-over narration, you're meant to stare at her ebony face and see nothing.
Which still manages to not be as bad as:
"She’s also sexually molested by her jealous, welfare-cheating, gross, and sedentary mother, although the genital fingering might seem preferable to the verbal and physical abuse."
Well, apparently he didn't take too well to being called on his really bad choice of wording.
From the comment section:
There are honestly no racial or class assumptions in what I wrote--indeed, one of my chief criticisms of the film is that it piles on the mother's monstrousness (throwing a huge TV down the stairs on top of her daughter and a tiny infant? kicking her 12 year old in the face repeatedly as she's giving birth?) to the point that we enter into horror movie territory. As for the description of the actress to which you allude: Either we talk about her appearance--which is central to the film--or we soft-peddle it (OP: WTF?!). I chose to deal with it head on and convey the shock of seeing a protagonist who looks and acts like this. Was I tone deaf? Perhaps. But I promise you that nothing I wrote had to do with my personal prejudices--unless it was the prejudice displayed by the film itself.
and again here:
At no point did I use the word disgusting. But I assure you that the filmmakers wanted to put Precious's fleshiness in your face. Why else the extreme close-ups of greasy chicken and hocks going into her mouth? I repeat: Are we supposed to refrain from acknowledging what's onscreen. Of COURSE we are supposed to, in the end, look beyond the girl's appearance and see her inner beauty, but the director starts by using her image for shock value.
Now, it is a fact that Hollywood is not kind to the obese, and there may be some truth in the whole "exploiting her weight" aspect. However, nowhere on screen do the words ZEPPELIN and BALLOON pop up; he chose to insult her verbally on his own. That wasn't the director, screenplay writer, etc.. Nor is there any justification whatsoever for the idiotic downplaying of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. Fail all around. :/