What's up with Oprah?

What do you think about Oprah outing herself on gaining 40 pounds?

My immediate reaction was- why is she announcing this to the world?

I understand that this is a major issue for her, and weight gain impacts her self esteem a great deal, but I guess that is what bugged me. She gained 40 pounds and she is totally beating herself up about it, like it is a massive, personal failure.

First of all, she was diagnosed with a thyroid condition which causes weight gain, and secondly she is in her 50's which I believe impacts your metabolism overall making it harder to keep weight off.

Oprah goes on to say she felt like a "fat cow" standing in between Cher and Tina Turner.

Fat cow. This powerful, dynamic, inspiring, amazing women is shrunk down to being a fat cow. Here I ask if this was in her own mind, or could she feel the judgment of others eyes scanning her "thinking she's fat again." I would guess both.

Is 200 pounds really that fat?

Put the number aside for a moment, and look at Oprah's image above. The thinner version of Oprah does not look to me to be her natural body state, meaning she had to work her ass off to get down to that weight, and I don't believe her body is built to maintain that weight, so if she attempts to achieve it again she will inevitably gain it back (her head looks too big for her body for one, and secondly she looks like a marathon runner so you can just tell that she was working out hours a day to maintain that bod).

The "fat cow" image on the right doesn't look very overweight to me. I actually think she looks pretty good. What do you think?

I think societal brainwashing is at work here, and sadly one of our strongest female icons has fallen victim to the scam that thin is the ticket to freedom.


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26 Responses to What's up with Oprah?

  1. Shannon says:

    And also the lie that not being rail thin diminishes any success that you may have. Oprah has been such a proponent of so many ideas regarding self-acceptance and healing. My hope is that she will be able to heal this in herself.

  2. Pushca says:

    In the article she writes how “my doctor prescribed medication and warned me that I must ‘learn to embrace hunger.'”
    I mean, really? Way to prescribe an eating disorder!

  3. Michelle says:

    I like how they totally photoshopped both pictures, the one on the left to look smaller… the one on the left to look bigger.
    And even the way she is standing. She is obviously not standing up straight in her ‘fat’ picture. In her ‘skinny’ picture, she is leaning, which makes your abs contract a little more to give her a little bit more of a skinny appeal.
    *rolls eyes*

  4. Michelle says:

    I think she look beautiful.
    Her face is so pretty.
    She is accomplished.
    Many people look up to her.
    She has helped many people.
    (I’m not the biggest fan, but those are her good points)
    I am just so sad to see that this ends up on the front of a magazine.
    I feel like e-mailing someone in her staff about it.
    I’m outraged.

  5. Tracey Z says:

    When one of the most powerful women in America can’t feel good about herself at a weight that is still considered fairly average by today’s standards, how are the rest of us supposed to feel? So much for her being all about empowering women! How about getting ‘real’ Oprah?!
    It’s really sad that such a successful woman’s self-esteem can still be so tied up in how she looks, and how distorted it can be, when I think she still looks pretty damn good!
    Of course, having the most unflattering pictures possible of every pound gained emblazoned on the covers of every tabloid in the world certainly doesn’t help matters. I would think that that would buckle the knees of even the strongest woman after a while! It seems that the more powerful the woman in our society, the more the need of the media to tear her down. It’s a cruel system we live under. We don’t have the burqua, we have the press.

  6. Katie says:

    I’m irritated that it’s even an issue. If she wants to stand up for women, don’t make such a big deal over weight. There’s no reason she needs to apologize for herself.

  7. Hallie says:

    Besides, is it just me, or does her “thin” picture look airbrushed to anyone else?

  8. Melissa says:

    I didn’t like the word choice of “fat cow” but didn’t think the article itself did anything more than share that Oprah’s human, fallible, and that all the money in the world can’t buy health/happiness.
    Want something shocking? Take a look at Candace Cameron on the cover of US Weekly … down to 110 from a “chubby” 132. WTF?!!! If 132 is “fat” what are our daughters supposed to think?! Are you KIDDING me? THAT is heavy?! It def. goes both ways. And she looks mega-airbrushed.

  9. wriggles says:

    I’d like to ask you a question, leaving aside the cynicism of turning weight trauma into product; do you think it is possible that Oprah is psychologically and physiologically addicted to dieting?

  10. mamaV says:

    Hi Wriggles: Interesting question…I would say that her entire self image revolves around her weight (sound familiar anyone??) and she will always be on a diet. Addiction?
    Here’s a weird thing, and I swear it’s true because I saw it happen over and over again. When I was in Paris modeling, I lived in an apartment with 5 other girls. We all arrived there thin, then immediately we would be told to lose weight, some girls would diet like crazy – and I swear to you they would gain weight. Closet eating was not a factor because we were literally together 24/7.
    I honestly believe that when you are told you are fat, shamed for it, something happens in your brian psychologically you gain weight, not through eating, through some sort of mental process.
    Odd? Totally, but I experienced this myself. When I was completely dedicated to starvation and exercising like a complete nutcase 3 hours per day -at times I weighed more than I do now.
    My routine now is like 3-4 days a week of light exercise, healthy balanced eating, with candy and sweets when I feel like it. My life does not revolve around food, and guess what…there are times I get too thin or lose weight without trying.
    So back to Oprah- she is screwed. She needs therapy more than anything. She needs acceptance more than anything. She will likely struggle with this until the day she dies. Honestly, I can see her getting gastric bypass as the next step.

  11. Melissa says:

    She wouldn’t make the cutoff for gastric bypass, though. And even then, it wouldn’t change her relationship with food. That’s the sad thing; she’s an admitted food addict/emotional eater. That doesn’t change because the size of your stomach is physically shrunken.

  12. Tracy says:

    mamaV you read my mind! When I heard that Oprah outed herself, I thought, why the heck would she think she has to explain herself to anyone? The only person she need to be accountable to is herself. She needs to be kind to herself. I really feel for her. She has everything but the emotional help she really needs. I think she is still hurting from the sexual abuse she suffered as a girl. This just breaks my heart. And it does go to show you, eating disorders can affect anyone. We are NOT alone.

  13. olesya says:

    Is 200 pounds really that fat?
    Yes, actually, it IS that fat. Oprah is 5’6.5″ and if she is 200 lbs that means her BMI is 31.8. That’s obese. Regardless of the BMI deviation based on body structure, that’s still a very unhealthy weight. The remedy to anorexia is NOT promotely the opposite body shape, which is equally unhealthy.

  14. Madelyn says:

    Olesya… BMI is a crock of arbitrary crap. It was originally devised by a STATISTICS researcher as a way to STATISTICALLY measure weight distribution in population. It’s only now that it’s picked up all of this baggage relating to health.
    Also, seriously, just look at her. That doesn’t look like an unhealthy weight for her. It looks natural. Some people are just naturally built bigger than others.

  15. sannanina says:

    In addition to what Madelyn said… the very low and very high ends of the BMI distribution are associated with a higher mortality rate – but 31.8 is not at the very high end of the distribution, no matter if it is labeled as “obese” or not. In fact, some studies have found that being of “normal” weight is associated with lower life expectancy than being “overweight”. Overweight is generally defined as a BMI of 25-30, and 31.8 doesn’t lie that far out of it. (Also, please keep in mind that statistics can only talk about the average of many people, it does not necessarily apply to every person, and since these studies are purely correlational they also can say only very little about causation. For example, there are studies that some of the health risks obese people face are not solely due to their weight but are partially due also to the high levels of stress they experience.)
    Finally, please don’t compare anorexia and obesity. You can compare anorexia to compulsive overeating and/or binge-eating if you want to, but just as not every underweight person is anorexic (some are not even sick) not every fat person is an overeater. In addition to labeling obese people with a condition that they don’t have this kind of thing also prevents people who are anorexic but not underweight and who are overeaters but not obese from being recognized and eventually from getting help.

  16. Niika says:

    I think somewhere between the two would probably be better for her, honestly. But I also don’t think she looks bad even at her current weight. I saw a pic of her in some kind of wonderful dress, and she looked fabulous, even if she’s supposedly “too large”.
    … I found the pic!! Have a look and tell me if you think it’s as nice-looking as I thought it was: http://www.foxnews.com/images/477101/0_21_Oprah_Weight1.jpg

  17. mamav says:

    I guess Oprah needs to hit the gym with Michael Jordan, since according to the crock-o-shit BMI scale he is overweight.
    I think Oprah has more of a risk of dieing from the mental issues she faces from abuse, anxiety over her weight, and depression for beating herself up over it for her entire adult life.

  18. olesya says:

    to madelyn:
    31.8 is not in any way a healthy weight. yes, i have looked at her. she does not look healthy. while bmi may not be accurate for some people, i believe that it holds some degree of accuracy in oprah’s case. she is not exceptionally muscular nor does she have a large body frame. while she may not be “obese”, she is certainly not at a healthy weight.
    to sannanina:
    i was not comparing anorexia as a disease to obesity. i was comparing the pro-ana ideal “anorexic” body type to an obese body type. i am more educated than you know regarding eating disorders, body weights, and other such related things. i apologize if i was not more clear in my comment. however, i do not appreciate your condescending response.
    to mamav:
    michael jordan is an exceptionally tall, exceptionally muscular athlete. oprah is none of those things. it is logical that the bmi system does not work for michael jordan at all, but it does hold some legitimacy with someone like oprah. while i do recognize that oprah probably does have psychological issues resulting from her body image, does mental health override physical health? neither is more important than the other. anxiety and depression is no excuse for letting your body get to a weight that is so high it is unhealthy (the same goes for unhealthy low weight, but that is not relevant to our discussion).

  19. sannanina says:

    olesya – One of the reasons why it is very important for me that obesity and anorexia are not compared is that I happen to be obese and also have an eating disorder. It is true that I overeat/ binge eat, it is also true, however, that this is not the whole story. People usually assume that I am “better” when I lose weight and this is just not true.
    In addition, I have a friend who has a BMI of around 16.5. She has been very thin all her life; she never had an eating disorder. She is healthy, but according to BMI she is also quite a bit underweight. It is simply her body type, and she cannot gain a lot of weight in a healthy way. Just as she is naturally thin there are people who are at least somewhat naturally fat, and I very much doubt that it is healthy to work against your body all your life (I don’t know of any research answering this question, however). I am not promoting my friend’s body type as ideal, but I won’t promote it as unhealthy either, because I believe it is healthy and natural for her. I won’t say that a person is unhealthy simply because of his or her high BMI either.
    Secondly, if I sounded condescending I am sorry. (I don’t know which part sounded particularly condescending to you. If it was the part about statistics then I can only say that I don’t know you and your background and that unfortunately even well informed and intelligent people often have not had a lot of education in statistics. It is very possible that this is not true for you, but I cannot know that.) I certainly don’t attempt to sound condescending and I also have a strong interest (both professional and personal) in gaining further knowledge about EDs and weight, something that can only achieved through good, unbiased research and through open and respectful discussion.
    Concerning your statement that I know far less about weight and eating disorders than you do: You don’t know anything about my background, you have not met me, and therfore I assume you base your judgment on my one previous comment to this thread or to a few comments if you read my other comments to other threads. To be honest, I find that a questionable thing to do.
    Finally, eating disorders and weight are very emotional issue for me, and that might at times influence how I word my comments. I am sorry for that I and I will try to look out for it in the future.
    (Also, this is the the study I was referring to that found there is a lower mortality risk associated with a weight in the overweight BMI range than in the normal BMI range:
    Flegal, K. M., Graubard, B. I., Williamson, D. F., & Gail, M. H. (2005). Excess deaths associated with underweight, overweight, and obesity. JAMA, 293, 1861-1867.
    The abstract can be found here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15840860
    And this is the study that proposed stress as a possible negative influence on obese people’s health:
    Muennig, P. (2008). The body politic: The relationship between stigma and obesity-associated disease. BMC Public Health, 8, 128.
    The study can be found here: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/8/128)

  20. Anonymous says:

    Well, BACK on topic here…I don’t believe that Oprah is as heart broken about all of this as you try to make it sound. There are many reasons why she would out herself about her weight.
    First, she was probably addressing it herself before the tabloids got a chance to bury her with it. If I were in her shoes, I would believe it’s better to be honest with yourself and with your readers before someone else has the chance to stir up his/her own, even more humiliating, press.
    Second, she could have been doing it simply to capture the attention of her readers. She is still very much one of the greatest women role models we have in America, and she could have “outed herself” simply to help us understand that she is just like the rest of us who struggle with losing and maintaining weight. Just because she is a powerful woman doesn’t mean she is exempt from body image issues, and this could have been the point she was attempting to make.
    To say that she considers this a massive personal failure is a little unsettling, and maybe it’s just me, but I prefer to consider the multiple reasonings behind her actions.

  21. Tracy says:

    Yes, back to the subject!
    I am still bothered that she felt she had to out herself. I have suffered from bulimia for 25 years and I am desparately fighting to stay in the recovered stage. With my ED, I always feel I need validation from others and if I am not paper thin, I am not as good as everyone else. The media crucifies women if they don’t fit into that cookie cutter image of an emaciated model. So, here is a powerful woman making a statement that woman have to apologize if they do not fit into this image. I wish Oprah would have focused more on the health issue and not about image by comparing herself to Cher and Tina Turner.

  22. Jen says:

    It is sad that a woman who is a role model for the women everywhere is degrading herself over weight gain. This is where Tyra Banks has the advantage – she may not be the same kind of role model that Oprah is, but she did not degrade herself over gaining weight.
    Honestly, I see this as a marketing ploy – the female world is insecure about their weight, so Oprah and her marketing team point out Oprah’s weight gain in order for more people to buy her books and magazines.

  23. Jen says:

    By the way –
    Oprah’s weight has fluctuated all over the place and losing weight means loose skin, yet in her “skinny” picture there’s no loose skin or stretch marks evident.

  24. mamaV says:

    Hi Jen: On the possible photoshopping element here- I immediately noticed her abs. Hard as a rock and tight as could be…hard to achieve for anyone, let alone someone who has been up and down on her weight her entire life and in her 50s.
    The thought that O’ Magazine would make Oprah look thinner and more perfect “before” and worse after is really, really irritating.
    I am on the case, searching for blog info out there on this topic-there’s got to be others talking about this and you know if its true the pictures will be released.
    Let me know if you guys stumble upon anything.

  25. Melissa says:

    I def. wondered about those “abs” — I have a pretty flat tummy but my abs do NOT look like that!

  26. olesya says:

    i just want to clear up something. i was not saying that i knew more than you about eating disorders. i was saying that you do not know the extent of my knowledge about eating disorders. in other words, because you don’t know me, you cannot possibly know what i do and do not know about eating disorders and, judging from the way your were repsonding to me, you did not realize that i knew more about the subject than it may have come off as in my first comment. sorry if that is a bit confusing. english is not my first language and sometimes things don’t come out right. i thought it was important that you understand that i was not making a judgement on how much YOU do or do not know so i needed to reply. that’s all i’ll say.

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