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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Oprah’s Ups and Downs

Over the last few days in the Neighborhood I've read several posts about self-loathing, shame, disappointment, disgrace and simple sadness from our Neighbors. All this related to weight gain, weight loss, weight gain, and Heaven forbid: opting to help control our weight with surgical intervention. How in the world is it possible we invest so much of our personal worth in the size of our bodies? The TV Guide (Dec. 22-Jan.4) came in the mail today and I normally don't even look at it. But a headline caught my eye: "Oprah Confesses: I Weigh 200 Pounds!" My first thought, "Why is this a confession? I've seen her recent shows and I see that she is on the upswing of the scale. So what? She's Oprah." My next thought, "SHE's OPRAH! The most successful woman EVER." What in the world does the size of her skirt or the number on the scale matter to anyone? She's Oprah.

On Page 16 of the TV Guide there is a pictorial, beginning with her 1987 Emmy win, that details not her humanitarian, professional, personal, or public accomplishments. Nope. It chronicles her ups and downs with body weight. This is Oprah: the most powerful woman in the worldwide media. The most generous humanitarian who herself rose from the adverse odds of poverty to the generosity of unprecedented compassion. And we care if she is in her 1987 size 10 Calvin Klein jeans or pushing 200 pounds today? This is Oprah.

Her magazine "O", headlines her recent weight gain in the January 2009 issue. The headline reads, "How did I let this happen again?" It features twin Oprah's: one athletic and thin, one voluptuous and curvy.

It sickens me that Oprah has to go public and explain her struggle with weight control. It sickens me that this overshadows her more important work. It sickens me that I'm curious enough about this that I want to know, "Please Oprah, why did you let this happen again?"

Could it be, dear Oprah, that you are human?

You, my Neighbors, are not so unlike Oprah. The TV Guide reports that when she accepted her 5th and 6th Emmy's in 1992 weighing her heaviest she said, "Everyone was cheering. I wanted to cry. I felt so much like a loser. I was the fattest woman in the room." This is Oprah, winning Emmy's, feeling like a loser.

I am very proud of the 5 Day Pouch Test and how it has helped literally thousands of people reconnect with their pouch. I am proud of those who are doing their very best with weight loss surgery and weight control. But I am highly sympathetic to those, like myself, who will struggle today, tomorrow, and every day of our lives with weight control.

If there were one gift I would give to others, or to Oprah, or to myself, it would be the disassociation of weight and worth.

Bless Oprah for being so honest about her struggle with weight control. Bless Oprah for making her life about more than fat or thin: so much more.

And my dear Neighbors: Bless you too. None of us live our size in the public eye like Oprah does, but we are all equals when it comes to feeling vulnerable, shame, self-loathing, disappointment and perhaps disgust. I suspect that for you, for me, and for Oprah, at the end of the day what truly matters is how we treat our fellow person, about the truth we feel in our heart, about doing our best to keep on doing when, really, nothing in this life and in this living is ever easy.

Oprah is going to talk about her weight battle on her January 5th, 2009 talk show. I'll be tuned in and giving a big bunch of love back to someone who has been so publicly brave in sharing her own personal and lifelong struggle. Because I understand there is a little "Oprah" in all of us.

1 comment:

Donna said...

"It sickens me that Oprah has to go public and explain her struggle with weight control. It sickens me that this overshadows her more important work. It sickens me that I'm curious enough about this that I want to know..."

It saddens me too, but you know Oprah has a way of turning things around. She understands exactly why you and me, and everyone else has this curiousity about it all. This is the way she can send a message to all those struggling... again leading by example. Funny, I never once read a headline and thought it was a "confession", but an observation of fact preceeding whatever it is she is planning to do to resolve it.

But she is sooooo right. If we can't fix our heads, nothing else will change permanantly. Until we can do as you say, and not equate self-worth withour weight, we will never fully love the skin we're in, never mind succeed.