O: No you didn't!


If you are reading this you clearly have access to the internet, and therefore you have most likely read something about Oprah Winfrey’s weight gain confession. The jist is this: Oprah weighed 160 pounds two years ago, and now she weighs 200. She “confessed” to the weight gain for the January issue of O Magazine, and now the world wide web is buzzing. The real issue here though is not the weight gain, but the crazy amount of attention it has received.

I think we can all get behind the idea that our media culture is a tad weight-obsessed, so there is no real reason to open that can of anorexic worms. The coverage of Oprah’s weight gain is sexist and sizeist, straight up. Of course Oprah feels like her weight is scrutinized and that she has to apologize for her appearance, because it’s true. Media critics are falling all over themselves to “weigh in” on the weight confession and while many of them are saying things like, “It’s ok Oprah, it’s your health that is important, not your size,” they are still contributing to the weight-crazy culture that made Oprah feel like she had to apologize in the first place.

So what’s the solution? If Oprah gets so much attention for “confessing” to her weight gain (which in itself implies that she should feel guilty about it), doesn’t that reinforce the notion that weight is something we should focus on? And look at the cover of O magazine. While Oprah may be saying that she is happy with her size and is not ashamed, she is pictured above a headline that reads, “Making Weight Loss Stick.” Is it even realistic to hope that we can get to a point where a 55-year old woman’s 40-pound weight gain isn’t front page news?

Here is hoping that we can get beyond this weight gain and focus on more important things, like how hilarious Oprah’s appearance on 30 Rock was a few weeks ago:

by Kelsey Wallace
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Kelsey Wallace is an editor in Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter if you like TV and pictures of dogs.

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6 Comments Have Been Posted

Weight Gain

I think Oprah apologized because she portrays herself as a health conscious person and has focused many shows on the topic of weight. I don't think it's sexist or sizeist. The apology comes from the fact that Ms. Winfrey seems like a bit of a hypocrite. Also, when you say that people have told Oprah it's her health that's important, not her weight, did you consider that there is nothing healthy about her weighing 200 lbs. Black women in particular suffer from disproprotionate amounts of obesity and related diseases--diabetes, hypertension and even cancer. Oprah set herself up as some kind of a role model in this area. That's why she's apologizing.

Actually you can be healthy

Actually you can be healthy at 200 lbs. How? By eating right and exercising. I have met people who are 200 or 200+ and live a healthy lifestyle. Just because they weigh more than the average gym bunny and are considered "obese" does not mean they are not healthy or living a healthy lifestyle. There is health at any size. I'll leave you with this link:

<a href="http://www.healthateverysize.info/">Health At Every Size</a>

As for Oprah being a role model to black women...that is a matter of opinion. As a black woman myself I don't see her as a role model for physical fitness among other black women. In fact, Oprah is known for her crash dieting. That isn't a healthy message to send to women who do want to be fit (not skinny but fit...healthy).

Truth and Imperfection

Oprah's willingness to talk about her weight shifts, while overplayed in the media, is refreshing in showing her humanness and drawing attention to the pervasiveness of body issues and the permeability of this issue for women who appear to "have it all." It diminishes the myth of the superwoman, paints Oprah in a light that shows her humanity, and demonstrates the hold that patriarchal norms of beauty maintain on a woman's psyche. Now, maybe--probably--this is a marketing gimmick. At least it's one that has the potential to be read as feminist.

I think Oprah broke this

I think Oprah broke this story to have ownership of it. She's kind of media savvy like that. This story likely would have broken elsewhere in the celebrity weight obsessed media, and with a more lurid subtext, no doubt. I think the small victory of Oprah telling the world she gained 40lbs is that she now controls the narrative. Rather than responding to allegations of weight gain, she can now talk openly and honetly about her struggles with her self-image and self-worth. Before Oprah became totally about being a rich person with a personal doctor, a celebrity trainor and a list of favorite things far too rich for my blood, she made a living talking on the level with women. In the past, Oprah has related her weight issues in part to the glare of the spotlight, but also her complicated relationship with her father and childhood molestation. She has lead some of the more interesting and nuanced discussions of fathers and molestation in the talk show genre - no fist fights, no paternity tests revealed. I hope she takes this opportunity to keep it real.

I wonder why Oprah has been

I wonder why Oprah has been talking about her weight for years.

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