Wednesday, February 8, 2012

If Oprah can't be fat and happy, is there hope for the rest of us?

    I've been plagued with self image issues pretty much all of my life.  Much like every woman I have ever met.  Since about the age of 12, I don't think there was ever a time when I didn't consider myself fat.
    Presently, I actually am fat.  Well, that's what all the weight charts tell me anyway.  But this is probably the first time in my life where that was, in fact, the case.  I remember being a sophomore in high school, weighing 114 pounds.  Fat!  Then in my early 20's, being somewhere around 125 pounds.  Fat!  Never, ever, in  my life have a looked in the mirror and not seen a fat person staring back at me.  I'm not delusional.  I'm not blind.  It's just that somewhere in  my early adolescence I drank the same Kool Aid that every other woman in this country was served.  And like the urban myth of the bad PCP trip... I've never been able to recover.
     I think this revelation may actually surprise a lot of people that know me.  I'm not sheepish.  I'm not self-depricating.  In other words, I do a damn good job of covering up how crippling it is to never be satisfied with the way you look.  There is only one word I can use to sum it up.

    Oprah pulled herself out of a life of misery and poverty to become the most powerful woman IN THE WORLD.  Her opinions determine the outcome of huge events.  She crippled the meat industry by merely implying on one of her shows that it wasn't healthy to eat too much of it.  She takes unknown authors from obscurity to fame overnight.  She buys people cars.  Houses.  Takes a whole brood to f-ing Australia.  She's bff's with John Travolta.  This woman has, literally, everything.
     But, like the rest of us, she clearly hates herself.

     How many times have we seen Oprah, apologetically declaring that she gained her weight back?  When I was pregnant, I was watching that show she did, where Kirstie Alley comes back on, about a year after she pranced around her staged in a bathing suit as the poster girl for Jenny Craig.  Kirstie Alley was fat again.  Kirstie and Oprah commiserated over how hard it was to be struggling with their weight in the public eye... blah, blah, blah.  Thier conversation was frankly boring the hell out of me- because I was just so sick of hearing about Oprah and Kirstie's weight struggles.  The feminist in me was pissed as hell.  Jesus, ladies.  Don't we have anything else to talk about?  Why perpetuate the myth of the ideal body?  Where is your sense of pride?  Pathetic!  But just as I was about to change the channel, I saw something in Oprah's eyes.  They were completely glassed over and blank.  She was on the verge of tears, but beyond that, she looked so defeated.  She was really hurting.  Maybe the hormones had something to do with it, but I burst into tears and sobbed uncontrollably for damn near an hour.
     It hit me like a ton of bricks.  You can attain every earthly thing you have ever dreamed of Maria, but you will still hate your body.  Holy shit.  That is depressing.

    You see,  I appreciate my curves, the way an adult woman just appreciates things- because she knows better.  But I'll never get back the years that I spent, thin, yet plagued with eating disorders and self-image issues because I drank the damn Kool Aid that popular media served us, and is continuing to serve our daughters. Yes, I'm disgusted by it- but I'm too far gone to really change my own psyche.  We are all too far gone- and we don't even realize it because we have been taught, for so long that we will never be good enough.  Now we just accept it.  H&M uses manequins as models because no woman could ever be perfect enough to model their clothes.  Photographers photoshop the most beautiful women in the world because they are just not beautiful enough.

     Oprah has everything yet still feels the need to publicly batter herself because she just can't make weight.  I don't mean to put this on your shoulders, Oprah, but if you can't be happy with yourself- the most powerful woman in the world- then where is the hope for the rest of us?


  1. Amen. You said it all. But I still want to be skinny! I drank the kool-aid, too.

  2. I just stumbled across your blog thanks to STFUP and I just cried a little reading this. I KNOW there are other women out there struggling with this, but it still means a lot to me to hear it from someone who clearly has a great POV on life (as evidenced by your other posts). I'm 27, but I haven't had kids yet and I look back on those pictures from HS (when I was anorexic because I thought I was porky) and college in the same way... I don't want to know what I'm going to look like after kids...

    1. Thanks- how can we not struggle with it, really? The message is constant. Thanks for reading :)

  3. This is an old article and Oprah mentioned later on her show that she now regrets it. Not really fair to call her out on it now.

    1. I don't feel like I'm calling Oprah out on anything- my point is- even when you have everything, you are plagued with body image issues- and that sucks.

  4. I can so relate to this! I loathed myself for so many years, time I can never get beck.

    The irony of course is that I am now at 43 officially overweight. Childbearing as well as medication for a chronic illness has seen to that. The likelihood of returning to normal weight is (ha!) slim to none.

    Oh yes, I found you through STFUParents. Gotta love your mindset!

  5. I was 5'7", 130lbs in high school. I always thought I was fat and was so self conscious all the time. I just had my 10 year reunion, and I'm now 5'6" (I have scoliosis that got a little worse over the years..) and 185lbs. My loosest pair of pants are now cutting into my stomach.
    I look back on pictures from HS and pray I could look like that again! It's amazing how right now I would LOVE to look exactly how I did 10 years ago when I still felt fat.
    And there are so many things out there saying "Love your body, embrace your curves, etc etc" and I tried that for many years! But I finally broke down and admitted that I just CAN'T! I gave it my all, but I am just not happy when I see myself in pictures! God forbid I try clothes shopping; I literally end up in tears.
    My boyfriend got me a shirt for my birthday a couple weeks ago...I was having a great day and was in a fantastic mood. I said I would try it on the next day, but he insisted I try it on right then. That ended up with me crying in the bathroom for at least a half hour.
    Sorry, I know I babble a whole lot. Anyway, what I don't understand is how someone who is rich and famous (well, the famous part doesn't even matter.) How is it that someone who is rich can not get their own ideal body? Wouldn't they not have to work and have the time and money to hire a personal trainer? :-/

  6. My sister has always struggled with her weight & I think it has deeply affected her life. I wish for her, like everyone struggling with this, that they would either make the changes needed to stay at the weight they want or just learn to accept themselves.

    I understand many people simply have bad genetics. But I simply do not believe that with the sheer number of obese people we now have in the U.S. that all of them have medical issues preventing them from losing weight.

    Diets don't work. It's about leading a balanced life. People MUST understand that. A obese person is out of balance. It's as simple as calories in vs. calories out. Nothing else matters. If you burn more calories than you put in, you'll lose weight. But, you can't try and do this for a few weeks at a time, but must be at the right caloric level for a long period of time.

    I also think they idea of embracing one's obesity is dangerous. Why? Would we tell someone else out of balance to embrace themselves? You drink too much, or inject too much...embrace you! That's you! I don't think we should promote this. Yes, some people are just naturally bigger. And some people have terrible genetics. I'm not talking about people who are a bit bigger or even twenty pounds overweight. I'm talking about people forty and fifty pounds overweight. A lot of people have simply been overburdening their bodies with too many calories for too many years. It's as simple as that. And it's a HUGE burden to bear. Try asking someone to wear around a fifty pound weight vest for a day and see how is changes the rest of their life.

    I also have some close friends who've had kids and returned to their original weight very, very quickly. Are they exercise nuts? Nope, they simply eat right & exercise to be happy, healthy, and have fun. Walking, yoga, etc. I also have another close friend who knows without a scale when she is getting "fat." Her clothes are tight, she doesn't feel right. What does she do? Little things - less butter on her toast, walks the dog more often, etc. And she is very "European" in the sense that she eats whatever she wants, but in moderation. And what is moderation all about - BALANCE!

    Behind a lot of the obesity issues I think you'll find other issues. One must live in balance, in all ways, to truly be happy and healthy.

    Just how I see it.

    1. I don't think anything that you are saying is wrong- I just think we are talking about two totally different things. You are talking about the plague of obesity. I am talking about the plague of self hate. Both very real, detrimental issues in our society. Not everyone that hates themselves, or the way they look is obese. The time in my life that I was riddled with eating disorders, I was at a very healthy weight. We are making two distinctly different points.

      thanks for reading :)