Out of the many things that socialite Kathy Hilton is known for, her general self-awareness is not one of them. But, her awkwardness definitely is. Last night the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills co-star made an appearance on Bravo's Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen in which she played a game called "Will Kathy Know Them?" Needless to say, it didn't go so well.
When shown an image of pop superstar Lizzo and asked to answer who she was, Hilton stated "I feel like I do...Precious?" This resulted in laughter from Cohen and Hilton's Real Housewives of Beverly Hills castmate Crystal Kung Minkoff.
While those on the couch went into a fit of laughter, Elliot Cooper, one of the very Black folks in the room, gave the uncomfortable moment a very visible and intentional side eye before taking a shot. (Greg Mathis Jr., son of Judge Mathis, laughed along with the crowd.)
Trying to make up for the flub, Hilton said "That's my nickname for her, that's what I call her. She is precious to me." as if she was calling Lizzo an adjective and not a stereotypical depiction of a plus-sized Black woman.
Folks on Twitter went berserk as they assumed she was mixing up Lizzo with Precious, a fictional character played by actress Gabourey Sidibe in her breakout role in the 2009 film of the same name, which is based off of Sapphire's novel Push.
Some folks thought she mixed the "About Damn Time" singer with the gorgeous plus-size model Precious Lee. Whatever the case may be, we Black folks do not look alike—so it just aint right either way.
Overnight, Hilton's mentions have been in shambles as Black folks took time to school her on why her aloofness in the situation was not so charming.
EVERYONE in that little #WWHL clip & those laughing at it deserve ALL THE SMOKE AND…— Uncle Clifford’s Rulebook (@divafeminist) August 11, 2022
I am also tired of folks not interrogating the lack of “desirability” perpetually assigned to the actress who played Precious (not saying her name cuz trolls). Colorism&antiFatness at work here
That Kathy Hilton clip is messed up and y’all know it is. Lizzo minds her own business but all people do is make her a joke and this time it wasn’t even intentional. This time she caught a stray and I wish someone would’ve stepped up and said something.— Kalen Allen (@TheKalenAllen) August 11, 2022
Precious is a character and NOT real. The actress that plays her is Gabourey Sidibe. She is a dark skin Black woman. That name has been used as an anti-Black racial epithet for years towards Black women and Black girls. Enough.— Jason (StarWind) (@EscaflowneClown) August 11, 2022
Now, I know Kathy Hilton doesn’t know much, but how the hell did she manage to confuse Lizzo with Gabourey Sidibe?— Shar Jossell (@SharSaysSo) August 11, 2022
That certainly plays into the “we all look alike to them” trope.
Many have come to Hilton's defense saying that she is a rich older woman who confuses her own cast-mates names; therefore, this mistake meant nothing. Sure, she probably meant no harm.
Although Kathy shouldn't have signed on to play a game where she practically didn't know anyone, regardless of race, the disrespect comes with the apparent association she has for Lizzo, hence calling her Precious.
While the women she confused Lizzo with are exceedingly beautiful, they are only personified by their figures.
As she continues to rise and be unapologetic, Lizzo has been berated with blatant fatphobia and misogynoir across mediums. This is an experience also witnessed via Gabourey Sidibe's rise after playing the role of Precious as well. How many times have you heard a plus-size Black woman being called out her name and referred to as Precious? Or Rasputia from Eddie Murphy's Norbit?
This is another issue to address for another day, however, this incident ultimately showcases, once again, the synonymity that white folks view us in. As we continue to prove that we are more than monolithic portrayals, this is a reminder that there is obviously more work to be done because simply put, this ain't it. In the same vein, we have to be more conscious of the ways we, as a community, contribute to the normalization of disrespect. Whether it's laughing at the jokes no one wants to speak up about or failing to correct someone when our name is pronounced improperly, taking a little time to correct errors and call folks in when they are moving funny makes each of us better as individuals. These are learning moments.
All in all—do better, Kathy, do better.