Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Weighing In on Oprah

Newsflash: Oprah weighs 200 pounds!

This is the 4th popular news story today on one local paper's website. (Two stories about the Philadelphia Phillies take first and third place.) You may or may not notice that I'm not linking to it.

And that's because I don't exactly see the news value in this. Yes, Oprah herself ("an embarrassed Oprah") has revealed this information but she probably felt compelled to do before someone leaked the scandalous news that she can't fit into her dress for the Obama inaugural. (I'm not making that up; it is in the story I read.) She claims that she has "fallen off the wagon" in terms of healthy eating and isn't practicing what she preaches.

I don't think she owes anyone an apology or an explanation, which seems to be that her thyroid condition has made her afraid to exercise or work out. (I also have a thyroid condition and immediately upon reading that, adopted that as my excuse for not exercising.)

But seriously, what does it say about us when this is the 4th most popular story on the website of a major metropolitan newspaper? You could say that I am being hypocritical here by reading the story and especially blogging about it, but my point in doing so is simply to say that Oprah's weight is Oprah's business. I applaud her for being open about her weight struggles. I'm just saying that she shouldn't have to be.

Because the reality is that dieting and eating healthy is damn hard work. We all relapse, we all fall off the wagon, and we all feel like crap about it. Thanks to my borderline-high cholesterol and triglycerides, I've been eating very differently over the past month. Gone is my nightly bowl of ice cream, replaced by a Weight Watchers ice cream cup. Gone is the whole milk, replaced by 1%. I'm eating fiber-rich cereal or Omega-3 laden oatmeal, I'm snacking on almonds, I'm eating a Greek salad while the rest of the family has pizza on Friday nights. I'm trying.

And today I screwed up. A situation at work had me irked, so as a result I devoured three biscotti, an oatmeal cookie, a chocolate-covered pretzel, and a miniature brownie ... and called it lunch, which I'd skipped because I was involved in doing some work. I didn't care about my cholesterol or triglycerides. I knew I was risking a migraine. I'm paying the price for this tonight with a tummy ache.

But tomorrow's another day, I'm telling myself this evening - both in terms of the work situation and my response to it by eating foods that I really shouldn't have. You screw up, it happens. The only difference between me and Oprah is that I don't need to worry about major newspapers publicizing my weight and how I (gasp!) went on a chocolate binge this afternoon. (Well, OK, there's a couple other differences between me and Oprah ... last I checked, her salary was a little higher than mine.)

When you're trying to eat healthy and set an example, as I am trying to do for my family, you feel badly enough and ashamed when you don't meet that standard. And that shouldn't be. We shouldn't put this pressure on ourselves to be the ideal weight.

There's something very wrong when someone - even Oprah - feels the need to tell us that he or she is overweight because the embarrassment of being less than perfect is so great.


DemMom said...

Oprah's made millions (billions?) by talking to us about her weight. People love to hear Oprah talk about... all things Oprah. Doesn't matter what it is.
A former boss of mine said of her magazine's staff meetings, "They must sit around with Oprah and she says, 'Hmmm... what should this month's cover be? Let me think... how about... ME? And next month: ME...'"
You're right, it's said that this is such a popular story, but I think it's about our fascination with personalities as much as our obsession with weight.

Betty and Boo's Mommy said...

DemMom, yes I think it speaks volumes to that as well (perhaps even moreso).

Anonymous said...

I am right there, suffering with you. I wish I could figure out a way to end my mindless snacking. I have been saying for 18 months that I have 10 pounds to lose, but never seem to actually DO it. Now it's morphed into 15. I have tried off and on for the last 3 months. I even kept a food diary for a few weeks and did fairly well, but when the scale didn't budge, I got frustrated. I always thought that when I got focused the weight would come off, now I'm pretty nervous and am thinking I'm going to have to starve myself.