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Oh, Oprah, not again… “surrendering your weight”

Posted by on Jan 10, 2011 in Blog Posts | 19 comments

On the cover of O magazine a few months ago?  “A Miracle Course in Weight Loss (That really works!)” (BTW, I saw this month’s with another set of weight-loss “secrets.” If the last one worked so well, why do they need to keep running diet and weight-loss tips??!) Warning, triggering…

Cue eye-rolling, and yet, with the power Oprah has to influence so many people, it never ceases to amaze me that she is still looking for the miracle of weight loss… Oh, and there were no studies, randomized or otherwise to prove that the “method” in this article works.

Oprah writes about her “fear that keeps showing up as fat,” and how the “unconscious mind will put the weight back on.” Maybe Oprah puts the weight back on because she restricts (one episode she chirped about “no carbs” and gorging on lettuce with lemon juice…) Regaining weight is the predictable result of dieting between 85 and 90% of the time. It’s physiology….

Once again she sets readers up for failure, “The results will come only from your full dedication and commitment to the process.” Gee, how refreshing, so if it doesn’t work, like with every other weight loss regimen, it’s your fault. Basically the woman writing the book and featured in the article talks about spiritual giving-over of your self-hatred, relying on God and when you do that, the weight will simply disappear.

The brazen ignorance of physiology is breathtaking. Emotional eating may lead to weight gain for some, but resolving those emotional issues, whether it’s through “God” or a therapist does NOT guarantee weight loss.  Some will lose weight, some will stay the same, and some might even gain weight when eating competence improves. And never mind the assumption that just stopping the “emotional eating” will result in competent eating. (A great “how-to” for eating competence for adults is Secrets to Feeding a Healthy Family-Satter.)

Because, no, your body is NOT “merely a screen onto which your thoughts are projected” or personality traits. The article swerves dangerously here for me. If you’re fat it’s an outer sign to all the world that you are weak, emotionally shrunken, lazy etc. This isn’t Chaucer, where the pox-marked ones were evil, and those with clear skin and beauty were that way because of their inner virtue, and yet, that is what is implied.  “…learning to love Not-Thin-You, for she is nothing other than a product of fear, and fear, being the absence of love, is a call for love.” This reminds me of middle-school math. a=b , b=c, therefore a=c. If you are fat you are unloved. You are unlovable. So love “Not Thin You” not to love her, and embrace this body and this world, but so you can get rid of her…

The letter to “Not-Thin-You” (180 pounds btw) describes her as unable to do cartwheels, doomed to wear flats, shouldn’t “rock the dance floor,” only to brag  about how now she has avocados in the fridge, dreaming of 100 sit-ups and will soon say Good-bye to NTY…

I suppose I will spare you the rest, though I have crazily circled and exclamation-pointed several other paragraphs.

Just seems like more self-hating drivel, and so, so sad to me… And now I can throw this pile of steaming shame into the recycling bin…

1/11 addendum: Ellyn Satter’s Newsletter on the topic of  “emotional eating”

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  1. Mandy C

    Years ago I bought a book by Oprah’s personal chef called ‘In The Kitchen with Rosie’. It gave all the low fat recipes that Rosie cooked for Oprah at home, prior to one of the celebrity’s spectacular weight losses (such as ‘unfried chicken’).
    Nope,it didn’t work for me. In fact I ended up gaining even more weight with rebound eating on all those fatty foods I had been denying myself. Even if you can fool your taste buds for a time, you can’t fool your body.

  2. Samantha C

    wow…, is it bad that the only thing I really have a comment on is the “doomed to wear flats” line? Because…..I suppose I’ve heard everything else before. But what the hell? I wear nothing but sneakers. I can’t stand heels, I can’t even stand dress flats (they always fall off of my feet. Like the rest of me they’re shaped weird – wide, but short. So if the shoe is wide enough to fit, it’s got about an inch of empty space in the back, and with so many dress flats deciding they need to show toe cleavage, I can’t find any shoes that will actually stay on that DON’T lace up)

    Somehow the fact that heels are part of the “skinny you” is just so…blatant. It’s so blatant with that line that this is about fashion and conventional beauty and girlishness, and not about health or individuality. I do still wish I could lose weight, and it’s been on my mind recently, but it’s never once been because I want to be “un-doomed” from flats

    • Samantha C

      by the way I linked to this post and made a blog post with this one as a starting point. The end point might be really far away from Oprah but it sprang from there haha

    • katja

      i wore small heals to my wedding, died them black for my “fancy” shoes that I wear about every 2 years… A great point-that link with the conventional beauty stereotype… hits in on the head.

  3. Meowser

    She’s never going to get over it. Never ever. She’s just way too Vogue-struck. The only thing that will cure her is Anna Wintour saying that from now on, at least half her models will be size 12 or larger and a third will be over size 18.

    And why am I not surprised that Marianne Williamson (still) buys into fat = Bad Relationship With God? (Not that I’ve read that book, but I’ve read others by her, and I can only imagine.)

    I saw this month’s with another set of weight-loss “secrets.” If the last one worked so well, why do they need to keep running diet and weight-loss tips??!

    Dude. I’ve been asking myself that for the last 35 years now.

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Only fatties are expected to be perfect, appetite-free angels with no vices. I’ve never in my life been in a pizza joint, rib joint, donut shop, bakery, fast food place, etc., and seen only fat people eating there. Not once. I have, however, many times been in such establishments when I was the ONLY fat person eating there.

    • katja

      thanks for your comments, especially about being the only fat person at a restaurant. I see this bias all the time. As a culture, we see and comment on the fat kid eating McDonalds, and literally don’t “see” the skinny one next to him eating the same foods. There are many studies that show that overall lean and fat kids eat roughly the same. Why this persistent insistence on ignoring the science and clinging to “calories in calories out” is beyond me.

  4. restless native

    I’ve begun to wonder if the whole “emotional eating” notion hasn’t been oversold. I’m sure that this is a problem for some people, but it sure seems as if the magazines and media assume that if you’re over some official weight, then obviously you’re pigging out because you’re sad or tired or bored or unable to deal effectively with life. Every time I hear Oprah or some other expert talk about eating to “stuff down feelings”, I want to bang my head on my desk.

    I guess some people do this, but at the same time–best I can tell–people come in different sizes and have for a long time. And normal, healthy appetites and eating habits vary. I know thinner people who eat a lot and wider people who certainly seem to eat less, and vice versa. Some people–even wider ones–actually eat less when stressed or emotional, not more. I’m pretty sure you can’t tell by looking at a person how, what or why they typically eat!

    I mean, eating isn’t a sign of weakness. Bodies–whatever size they are–actually need food.

  5. Elizabeth

    Did you see Kate Harding’s “Dear Oprah” post a couple of years ago? It looks like not much has changed.

    • katja

      love it. Thank you. No, not much has changed…It’s almost worse with the “best life” products that her “trainer” is hawking.

    • katja

      awesome! I personally HATE heels, but I fractured a bone in my foot once and have messed up feet! You do rock them, and the little black dress!

  6. DeeLeigh

    The letter to “Not-Thin-You” (180 pounds btw) describes her as unable to do cartwheels, doomed to wear flats, shouldn’t “rock the dance floor,” only to brag about how now she has avocados in the fridge, dreaming of 100 sit-ups and will soon say Good-bye to NTY

    So. Fucking. Sad. 180 pounds? Hahahahaha. That’s my all-time lowest weight. Here’s is me doing a cartwheel at 190 pounds:

    And, why would anyone not wear heels if they wanted? I’m a good thirty pounds over her enormous 180 here…

    Also, I can burn up the dance floor at whatever I weigh. And I have avocados in my fridge and can certainly do 100 crunches. It’s just not about weight.

    • katja

      I know! I thought it was so ridiculous which is why I added that morsel. Your photo didn’t come through. I’m “normal” weight and I can’t do a cartwheel. Why in the hell would you not live your life, not rejoice in this amazing gift we have because of weight. It’s insulting, sad, ridiculous and doesn’t make anyone happier or healthier.

  7. Nicole

    I have often lamented what a wonderful warrior she could be for the HAES cause…if she weren’t so invested in hating herself. I read a recent “Day in the Life of Oprah” in one of those Sunday magazines that come with the newspaper, and she described getting up at 5:30 or 6, exercising and having meetings until something like 11am, at which point she would have a “green shake”. She didn’t eat again until 7:30p, when she made dinner for Stedman but didn’t eat any of it herself. Instead, she had a rice cake with almond butter. (And she exercised again before having it.) I’m sorry, but if this were Kate Moss describing her day’s intake, there would be experts all over the airwaves wailing about anorexia. Instead, we’re supposed to look on her as an inspiration. It’s sick. As Kate S. says, Oprah is really the textbook example of diets not working in the long term. If she can’t make it work–she who has devoted a huge part of her life to unbelievable restriction in an attempt to control her size–how are the rest of us possibly supposed to do it? I don’t have three hours a day to exercise, and I sure as heck don’t have the desire to subsist on green shakes and rice cakes.

  8. Kate S.

    Oh Oprah! Love her or hate her, does anyone really think she is lazy? Or weak spirited? This woman is a dynamo who has created an empire from nothing. Honestly, I think she is one of the most compelling examples of how “weight-loss systems” dont’ work and can’t work because if anyone could change their body type through sheer force of will it would be her. Imagine what would happen if her influence was applied to eating competance and body acceptance.

    • katja

      Yes. Also, the unlimited funds to have personal trainers, white, sandy beaches to walk on, massage therapists, chefs, the best quality foods money can buy, and she “failed.”