Article Worth Reading: “An Open Letter to Oprah”

Over the weekend, YogiClareBear shared an article from The Huffington Post with me that she thought might be a good fit for readers here on my blog. After reading it, I couldn’t agree more.

The article, called “An Open Letter to Oprah” is written by the director of the documentary, “America The Beautiful,” which explores our nation’s unhealthy obsession with beauty.

Take a peek at his plea to Oprah to stop the yo-yo dieting and end her public obsession with body image.

What is most interesting to me is that the director (and author) is a man. Not to play the sex card or anything, but usually we hear other females talking about weight issues and body image issues. And while men are certainly impacted as well, it was refreshing to hear a guy’s perspective.

Like many Americans, I both felt sad listening to Oprah degrade herself by calling herself “fat cow,” but at the same time, I could relate and understand the harshness of how she judged her body. Many of us at one point or another have felt uncomfortable in our own skin. I know I certainly have.

In fact, just this weekend, before a bachelorette party, I tried on my size 29 Citizens (my “skinny jeans” — bought as “goal jeans” in 2004) that I haven’t worn since last summer probably (mostly because I had two new pairs of Joe’s I was obsessing over, but also because I knew they’d be tight).

And guess what? To no surprise of mine, they didn’t fit.

For a minute, I admit, I wanted to hate on myself for gaining weight. But then I remembered: it’s more important for me to accept myself as I am, in this moment, tight jeans and all, than to berate myself for a fact of life.

Plain and simple, the jeans that fit my newly-svelte (for me) 25-yr old body just don’t fit my almost-30-year old body; I’ve gained some weight. Not an unhealthy amount, nothing I can’t manage, but the reality is there.

Accepting myself in that moment meant instead of staring, poking, prodding, or crying, I had to nip the negative thoughts in the bud; they solve nothing.

I told myself that in a couple months they might fit again, but equally as likely, they might end up being donated to Goodwill.

So I tucked the jeans in back in my drawer where I won’t see them, won’t be taunted by them, and pulled on a pair of super-dark Joe’s (which are a comfortable 30). These jeans laid perfectly, and I felt good in them.

The difference between my weight gain and Oprah’s is I am not calling myself names for the world to hear. And I’m now focusing on stopping the negative thoughts even as they’re flowing; they only make me more anxious.

I guess what’s especially sad about Oprah in particular is that millions of women look up to her. And they look up to her for so much more than her shape/size. It just sounded so trite, so superficial, so self-depracating to hear her speaking so negatively about herself.

With all the money in the world, with all the life coaches, trainers, chefs … Oprah still can’t buy healthy body image.

I guess that’s a lesson for all of us; indeed, some of the best things in life are free.

How about you? What are your thoughts about Oprah’s yo-yo dieting and body obsession? Do you think by sharing her struggles she helps women, or does a disservice to them by always commiserating about it?
How about you?

8 thoughts on “Article Worth Reading: “An Open Letter to Oprah”

  1. Uggh I have SUCH mixed thoughts on Oprah’s weight battle. First of all, I love HER for some reason, I just think she is awesome. But in terms of her relationship with her body image and her weight, I just can’t figure out how I feel. I haven’t read the Open Letter yet, but I will. On one hand, the side of me that has worked really hard to lose weight says, “She has ALL the resources, she should be able to keep it off if it is important to her.” But then I slap myself because I know that keeping weight off has very little to do with money or resources. She is a role model and I think it’s great the she discusess her battles with us. It makes her REAL. But by drawing attention to the issue, she just contributes to the media’s obsesson with the whole subject.
    Yeah, I’m torn. Good post though. Checking out the letter now..

  2. I think many of us feel that way, Lara, torn. Weight loss is often more mental than physical, so it makes sense to me why she — even with all those resources — still struggles. I do like to know she’s real, not air-brushed, not living on some raw, macrobiotic diet and eating 500 calories a day — that would alarm me. But it just bothers me how hateful she speaks of herself — women are listening, love her or hate her, ya know?!

  3. I like that Oprah has weight issues and is open and honest about them. She opens herself up to the public and expresses what so many women feel and go through when they gain weight. IT makes her more approachable, more likeable, I think.

    My “skinny” jeans have been long gone. I gained weight from my lowest and had those pants taunt me for a bit before I decided it just wasn’t worth my time. I bought new jeans and moved on. Whether I gain or lose weight, I don’t want to feel bad about it and those pants were doing just that!

  4. Good for you, Cathy! I don’t want to ditch mine entirely; I just obviously won’t be wearing them for a while, if ever. But I’m not ready to toss them. They’re just hidden. Out of sight, out of mind.

  5. im torn too. i feel for her so much, simply for her personal struggles, and also that she has had to do it in the limelight and a role model…and has to worry about all of that.

    maybe a weird parallel, but ive been in fitness classes where the instructor has hated on her body to the class. “oh my flabby abs,” yadda yadda. (what’s worse is that there is NO flab involved.) the instructors are in a position of being the “role model,” so that makes me angry, but at the same time…i can understand that they are just insecure. like oprah probably feels sometime, like we all feel sometimes. role models or not…everyone feels that way sometimes.

    BUT the role models maybe need to be a little more aware. and express their insecurities in a safe way. oprah, overall, i think does a fine job and mostly inspires, helps, lifts women up. a fitness instructor voicing her body insecurities in a negative way in a class setting? understandable, but not acceptable in my opinion. oprah slipping up? understandable, and lucky for her, she has the platform to retract, rethink, reassess in public. so she calls herself a fat cow, millions of women’s hearts sink because they might feel they are “fat cows” too…oprah can simply have a motivational show about feelings, psychology of body image, how to lose weight, self esteem, whatever relates…and BAM the cycle moves on, or up again.

    i can see the guy’s point…but i see more of the good oprah does than the negative i think.

    but still. *TORN* lol

  6. That’s a REALLY good example, about the fitness leader, Clare. Insecurity hits anyone and everyone — it seems no one is particularly immune. Sad, but true.

    I still love Oprah; I know some women hate her but I dig her. I just wish she digged herself, too 🙂

  7. If I had Oprah’s money I think I would be paying doctors under the table to do Lipo or staple my stomach. Not that it would solve all my problems or make me fell better for good. But you reach a time in your life when the dieting just does not work any more. We all struggle to get the right combination of diet and exercise in our lives to get the extra pounds off.
    I waste so much money on diets that now my husband is encouraging me to do Lipo. I hate myself and look at myself as a real looser when I go off my diet and eat chocolate or what ever. How is it that I would never treat people I love this way, but I have no problem treating myself this pooly.

  8. It seems like with Oprah she’s either “on” or “off” a diet and it seems like that kind of restriction just works against her. I wish she had success with a more moderate approach — it would inspire people, for sure!!

    The only winning combo that is real and true is eat less (and more of the right stuff) and move more. It’s easier said than done, but that’s the truth.

    You’re worth it, Michelle — treat yourself kindly; you won’t be disappointed.

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