seriously, Oprah?

18Dec08

Am I the only person who’s really bothered by Oprah’s recent admission that she’s gained weight? Oprah’s clearly been struggling with her weight for years but so much of her struggle seems self-inflicted. Obviously she’s a public figure and, in our culture, being thin has become the only measure of success, it seems. But Oprah is one of the few people who has the potential to change culture, or at least force a conversation about cultural mores, and this seems to be a great opportunity to have a conversation about why weight and numbers have become so important in determining our self-worth. I had certainly noticed that Oprah had gained weight but I had also noticed how great she looked. Isn’t that more important than the number 200?

Full disclosure: I was extremely thin as a teenager and I’ve gained a lot of weight since college. I’ve spent a few years weighing over 200 pounds. I understand the psychological toll that the number 200 carries and I understand the relief at no longer weighing over 200 (a recent development that probably won’t last through the holidays). But how you look and feel has to be more important than any particular number and Oprah owes it to all the women that she claims to be helping “live your best life” to just say: STOP.

Stop the obsession over weight. You’re only fat if you’re wearing clothes that don’t fit properly.

Stop actively dieting. Nutritionists clearly don’t know what they’re doing when they praise a new diet. Atkins was hot several years ago and I know people who got great results. But now nobody’s talking about Atkins. Seriously, folks, can you really trust a diet in which bacon and cheese is okay in frequent doses but strawberries have to be highly rationed? It makes no sense. The idea behind Atkins was useful information: we can’t eat carbohydrates in the huge quantities we used to but moderation has to be the key.

I could go on but I think the point is clear. Oprah is certainly right to call attention to our need for healthy living and she has to take care of herself as she sees fit but the way she’s publicly flogging herself for gaining weight (caused in part by a medical problem, no less) does every woman, regardless of size, a huge disservice.

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2 Responses to “seriously, Oprah?”

  1. What I don’t get about this whole discussion is that she never mentions that she is probably menopausal and that that changes one’s whole metabolism. It’s a subset of the larger problem that she has never seemed ok with how her body works normally, which is really troubling, but also explicable as a function of the “Oprah religion” of frequent backsliding, repentance, and redemption.

  2. 2 thefrogprincess

    You know, that gets exactly to my point. Weight fluctuates, whether it’s due to routine changes, sudden illness or imbalances, or just life, and to denigrate yourself at all, let alone so publicly, seems to be exactly the kind of thing Oprah would not condone. I just don’t understand why she’s not advocating a more steady and calm approach and I certainly see no need for her to be apologizing or speaking in the somber tones one usually reserves for news of affairs and embezzlements (I’m referring to the commercials for her special week of programming in early January.)


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