The brilliant, inspirational, and powerful achievements and philanthropic acts of Oprah Winfrey would seem to me to make her immune to false societal messages about females, body size, and age. So I could not help gasping in shock when I first saw her Weight Watchers commercial while watching the Golden Globes. I was unaware at that time that Oprah had bought 10% of the company. Some cynics believe that she has become the public face of Weight Watchers to boost her earnings from her investment in the company, which has admitted that they make most of their money from upset dieters who are “repeat customers.”
But I don’t think her motivation is financial.
I think that she actually believes what she says in her commercials about being so lost in body fat that she can’t find her real self. I believe her when she says she has to let out the woman inside her fat so that she can achieve her maximum potential. To have achieved so much and to have inspired so many people and still feel “not enough” means the “not enough” phenomenon is apparently not limited to ordinary women (like me); even Oprah seems to feel “not enough.” “It is so sad that even Oprah feels like she isn’t okay just like she is,” my wise daughter commented after I finally closed my mouth after watching that commercial.
Given her immense appeal and clout, I wish Oprah had paid for prime-time public service announcements about the unrealistic and harsh judgements women make about their bodies, especially their bodies’ size and age. I wish Oprah had tied her decision to use Weight Watchers to concern about health issues she was having, not about trying to discover her true self through weight loss. I wish Oprah had educated people about the nature of compulsive overeating as a disease, a disease just as much as alcoholism is a disease — a disease which needs to be addressed physically, emotionally and spiritually.
I wish Oprah luck in getting whatever she is searching for. And I hope that her search for a more diminutive body never prevents her from recognizing the grand and majestic enormity of her spirit, her intelligence, and her heart.