Fat, Media, Self-Image

Quote of the Day


You are fat. Let’s face it. It’s fine. Be healthy, exercise, eat decently, and be fat already. If you want to do some good for women in the world, come to terms with your body image. I can’t think of a single more important, salient, and meaningful thing you could do for the millions of people who watch you everyday. Quit giving away cars and luggage and Philosophie face soaps, and start giving away the message that it’s OK to fucking love yourself, even if you weigh 220 pounds.


73 thoughts on “Quote of the Day”

  1. Don’t look for her to change her message today — the guest this afternoon will be some guy who’s going to talk about how being disorganized/having a cluttered house makes you fat.

  2. Big Fat Deal had a link to a form you can fill out to suggest a topic or guest for Oprah’s show… maybe there could be some sort of concerted campaign to get an FA segment…

  3. I snagged the clip on the “clutter makes you fat” Oprah segment and posted it on YouTube and on my site here.

    Word has it she did do a show on FA years ago. I don’t think it went too well for the FA people, though.

  4. I cannot imagine Oprah changing her tune on this one. As much as she’s a trend setter, her success is pretty much tied to riding the currents of public opinion. It would take some serious ovaries to buck that, not to mention admit being wrong for the past twenty years. Or, you know, publicly acknowledging that she’s a “failure.”

    But it sure is a lovely dream.

  5. I have a deep abiding distaste for the Oprah-fication of American culture. I also have been appalled by her relentless weight-loss-as-cure-for-EVERY-DAMN-THING content. And seeing her image, in various stages of fat-and-distraught or thin-and-smiling, cycling through the supermarket tabloid covers is annoying, but a little amusing. I also rarely have pity for people with star privilege. Presumably she, and every other celebrity, knows full well what they’re getting into when they get on that track.

    And yet…

    I think she is well and truly trapped. She trapped herself. And the higher up you get in the realm of celebrity, the more you have bought into the way the system works. This means that it LOOKS like you have power, and in fact you could stop any time, but in the terrifyingly precarious reality you’ve created for yourself, in conjunction with the millions of eyes on you, stopping would mean THE END, the fall from grace.

    It’s just like what those of us stepping off the diet treadmill had to do, except we’re not that high up. We take that leap of faith–usually again and again, for a while–and we land with a bit of stumbling and disorientation and come out fine. Now Oprah? The leap wouldn’t kill her, but her fear makes it seem like it would.

    Like I said, I’m right there in the front row with everyone else here, saying, “for the love of god, Oprah, JUMP!” And I hate what she does to people’s heads around weight. I do feel a little sorry for her, though. Her fear probably occupies a lot of her headspace, and that is a fucked-up way to live.

    (This is WAY more woo-woo than I normally get about weight, sorry. I don’t know where that came from!)

  6. My understanding of Oprah’s message about being fat is that there is always an emotional component. Now that she has been diagnosed with a thyroid disorder (which has caused her to gain some weight) I wonder if her tune will change.

    Earlier this week, an Oprah show aired about teenagers getting the lap-band and gastric bypass (which is its own topic). Sometime during that show, Dr. Oz said that 20% of people are overweight because of a medical reason outside their control. Perhaps Oprah is counting herself as part of that 20%, and her tune will not change re: the other 80%.

    As she tells them and I understand them, Oprah’s weight struggles have been about emotional and addictive eating. Mine have been about that too. But, for the first time, I am starting to open up to the idea that not EVERYONE’S weight struggles are like Oprah’s and mine. Many are – and Oprah is in contact with a lot of people. That combination of personal experience + similar experiences of others does not equal “everyone is the same,” but that’s a hard formula to combat. We frequently form opinions based on our experiences and look for evidence in the world to validate them. The confirmation we often find is often too powerful to set aside…it’s hard to back up and say, well, ok, it may be true for many, but not all. We want to make things clear, to make them black and white. Just my 2c on another reason why this issue is especially thorny and hard for even advanced people to fully…digest :)

    And…the message I tell others when I’m explaining what this movement is all about? “You can’t hate people for their own good.” It is damn powerful. So thanks for that.

  7. The saddest thing about Oprah, I think, is that she has bought the whole thinness is the measure of your success as a woman. It doesn’t matter how smart she is, how hard she works, how much money she has, she herself doesn’t see herself as being as successful as she could be if she were only permanently thinner. Granted, she hasn’t let it keep her from doing what she wants to do and accomplishing what she wants to accomplish, but how much happier with all of that success would she be if she truly loved herself, as she is?
    What I really don’t understand is how people can watch her ups and downs with all the different diets she’s been on through the years and not see that it’s the fault of the diets, not the fault of the dieter, that they can’t stay permanently thin once they get thin, if they ever do. It’s not like we don’t have evidence of diets’ failure to work slapping us in the face every damned day. Maybe it all comes down to the fact that facing “diets don’t work” takes away TFOBT, and that’s just not something some people can, or will, face.

  8. Rachel, the show I saw about accepting your fat was some time after she’d regained the weight after the Optifast. I thought it was fairly brave because, after all, she’d made such a spectacle of becoming thin. She had a woman on the stage who was against fat, one who was for, etc. but what I remember most was the audience members. She had some very large people in the audience and one was saying she accepted herself, while the woman on the stage was screaming “unhealthy.” The audience member said, “I’m not unhealthy. I walk two miles a day and I eat right.” Then there was the large couple, and the wife said, “What’s wrong with it? My husband here and I have been married a long time, and we live well and enjoy ourselves. HE doesn’t mind me the way I am and I sure don’t mind HIM the way he is – why is it anyone else’s business or problem?” (That was before the bogus “You cost us money” mantra.) She also brought up how they had all heard the stereotype that fat people “smell” and how nasty she thought that was – back when people admitted it was mostly about looks.

    I took a lot away from that show – it wasn’t too long after that I stopped dieting forever.

    But I got sick of her compulsive “seeking” behavior (thanks to whoever on your blog said that – Bree, I think) not long after either.

  9. Amen.
    I think my biggest moment of Oprah outrage was at one of her shows on gastric bypass- she had a gorgeous fat girl sitting next to her father who had explicitly said that he would never love her if she never became thin.
    Oprah sat across from them and drank it in. No scolding, no “shame on you!”, no “how can you say such a thing about your own child?”
    She just sat and nodded and acted like it was completely understandable to hate your baby for not being able to do the thing that 98% of people are unable to do.

  10. I was NEVER more angry at Oprah than when she said that women who wore a 2x bustier shouldn’t — like, there was a size at which sexiness should stop, and that size happened not only to be My Size, but also a size at which Oprah very clearly has occupied on numerous occasions throughout her bazillion-year reign on TV. That galvanized my Oprah hatred.

    Look, woman, you can have your own body-image issues, and you can publicly struggle with them, but with the kind of power you wield over the common woman, you need to be very careful about telling people where body acceptance is OK and where it is not. You need to be careful about saying: Sexy stops at size 22.

    She further pissed me off when she had a show on with intersexed people on it. She actually asked one of them: Do you feel like a mutant?

    I don’t know Oprah. Do you?

    What the hell. Stop yourself already.

  11. I’d love to see a panel with Gina Kolata, Paul Campos, one of you Chicago Shaplings …. she might have an “ah-a moment” or two.

    i don’t know if I can get completely on board with hating on Oprah. Occasionally I rub elbows with the “Can’t be too rich or too thin have you tried this diet been to this weight loss camp health spa” crowd and I come away feeling a little brain-washed. I can’t imagine being around that element as much as she probably is. Hell, I’m 110% for FA for everyone and still get an occasional case of the “yeah buts” when it comes to myself. Self-acceptance is a process. She’s human.

  12. WOW!! YES YES and YES.

    Oprah has SO much influence. For years she’s fluctuated on weight and it’s obvious she’s meant to be a fat woman. She’s promoted yo-yo dieting, fad dieting and just dieting in general. Why, with all her money and with all her influence, can’t she say “I’m a healthy, strong, fat, black woman” and accept herself as that?

  13. Self-acceptance may be a process, but it is one which Oprah will not even TRY to start. She has had time enough & experiences enough, but she stubbornly holds on to the “fat people are bad, ugly, unhealthy, & have emotional issues which cause them to overeat” bullshit, the firm belief that we are all supposed to be thin, & that one she will conquer her issues & become permanently thin. She could do so much good, but she holds the fat acceptance movement back perhaps more than any other one public personality.

  14. I’d personally be down with parking my ass in front of Harpo Studios for a day and holding up signs with various FA-themed messages. I don’t know that she’d ever emerge from her bunker 20,000 feet below sea level long enough to peep out the window and see them, but her devotees certainly would. I’m all for giving her fanbase one to grow on.

  15. Sorry, but I can’t support the Oprah bashing.

    Yes, Oprah yields a lot of influence. That doesn’t mean she should be expected to be any further along on her personal journey than the rest of us.

    I just came to the FA movement, oh, let’s see…I started reading Junkfood Science this time last year, found my way to this blog (and Mo’s) a few months ago, and started reading Rachel’s a few weeks ago.

    Oprah has come a LONG way from where she started in life, and she does make it a practice to “give back.” I definitely don’t agree with everything she says on her show, but I also don’t agree with every opinion I hear on NPR.

    Oprah is first and foremost an entertainer, who makes it a practice to use her show as a forum for exploring what she finds interesting. She has shared quite a bit of her own personal journey with the world, and to hold her to standards that are different just because of her success is unfair.

    I’m sure Oprah will get there, and it’s very likely the fatosphere will be responsible for that. Urging her to do a show on Fat Acceptance makes sense. Hating on her for not having figured all this out already is pointless and counterproductive.

    Maybe we could have, oh, you know, a tad of respect for the woman and what she’s accomplished so far. Not every woman has to be exactly the same, isn’t that the point?

  16. I don’t think Oprah is educable on this subject. She is a follower on this subject, not a leader. When fat and FA become “hot” she will want a piece of it. Until then I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for it to happen.

    I wonder if she even heard Mo’Nique the other day when she said that Oprah had inspired her as a teenager not just for being a black woman but for being a “big” black woman, the likes of which she had never seen on television before. Oprah made her (initial) fortune fat. She captivated millions of viewers fat. Fat was, in fact, part of her appeal; if she’d been this image of shiny always-slim perfection that she seems to think she should have been all along, she’d have lasted about as long on the air as any number of other forgettable lovelies who tried their hands at the talk-show trade. People like her because she’s not “perfect.” She can’t be as media-savvy as she’s been for two entire decades and not know that’s true on some level.

    But if she doesn’t, she’d better get a clue fast. According to this story, just in the past year, Ellen DeGeneres has surpassed Oprah in popularity.

  17. she stubbornly holds on to the “fat people are bad, ugly, unhealthy, & have emotional issues which cause them to overeat” bullshit

    Yeah, she’s projecting like a motherfucker, that’s for sure. I wholeheartedly agree with what everyone is saying here, but then I think about how (for me at least) FA is very new. It’s only been three or four months that I’ve really “gotten it” and it’s still evolving in my brain. I wonder how it would be possible to accept it in uber-wealthy-celebrity land.

  18. Well, Stacy, there are two seperate issues here. One is Oprah not accepting herself. And it’s a damn shame that she hasn’t, because if she could accept herself and in turn encourage her viewers to accept themselves, that would do so much good in the world. But it’s understandable that she hasn’t, because self-acceptance is a very, very difficult thing in this culture.

    But the other issue is pushing her self-loathing on others. When she tells her audience size 24 cannot be beautiful or sexy, or when she condones a man telling his daughter she is unloveable because she is fat – that is not fucking cool. And you don’t have to be at any advanced level of fat acceptance to realise that.

  19. But the other issue is pushing her self-loathing on others. When she tells her audience size 24 cannot be beautiful or sexy, or when she condones a man telling his daughter she is unloveable because she is fat – that is not fucking cool. And you don’t have to be at any advanced level of fat acceptance to realise that.

    ExfreakinZACTly. I honestly don’t give a flying fuck what Oprah eats or doesn’t eat or how much she exercises or whether she thinks her own body is “okay.” I mean, I care inasfar as I don’t want anyone to have body dysmorphia, but that’s her own path, not mine. But I do very much care about her encouraging other women to think they’re bad mothers or ugly or out of control or unlovable or whatever, solely because they haven’t reached the hallowed single digits. Especially given that most of her audience never will reach the hallowed single digits, and even fewer will stay there permanently.

  20. Becky, I haven’t seen the shows you’re referring to, and it’s hard for me to think she really would condone something like that (though I understand your frustration)…

    Oprah (both when she’s wrong and when she’s right) seems to have a personal goal of empowering people, and there’s nothing more empowering than accepting your body as nature designed it. (I’m pretty sure she’ll come around, and I hope for her sake and ours, that it’s sooner rather than later.)

    P.S. Think about how many people have been frustrated with Oprah for living a successful life as a black woman. She’s a woman, she’s black, and she’s fat. That’s a lot of self-acceptance to be tasked with in a society like ours. It’s also a lot of representing to have to do. Anyway, interesting food for thought.

  21. This discussion is making me think of fillyjonk’s Christmas post. Where in part she said:

    But just because someone’s not marching behind you doesn’t mean they’re blocking your path. There are people who are learning, people who are waiting, people who are understandably skeptical, people who aren’t interested at all, people who are staunchly opposed to what we’re doing… and we’re doing it for them, no less than for all of you.

  22. I’m with you Meowzer. She already knows all this, and she still actively works against FA every step of the way. When someone of immense influence is actively fighting against FA, them’s fighting words.

  23. Edit: I meant to say, she not only knows, she’s known for *a long long time.* I was a fan in the very early days, but she definitely lost me along the way.

  24. The few times I’ve turned on Oprah in the last couple of years she’s had some new agey self-help “guru” on pitching some kind of woo-filled book or weight-loss diet. You would think it would be obvious to her that the diets she’s followed don’t work in the long term, so that she is doing a disservice to her viewers by allowing their promotion on her show. It’s clear, though, that she’s not interested in promoting reality-based self help (I see she has “The Secret” on again this week), so maybe it’s not that surprising that she keeps chasing the fantasy. It’s just sad that she hasn’t made the obvious connection that if the diets don’t work for her, with all the financial and personal resources she has, they almost certainly won’t work for her viewers, and that she’s harming them by suggesting otherwise.

  25. I saw the episode with the big girl and her father who “couldn’t” love her because of it. It was a season or two ago, so I don’t remember it exactly, but I don’t really recall Oprah condoning it, though she certainly didn’t give him the asswhupping he deserved. I do remember her guilting the mother for taking the daughter out for Baskin Robbins when the father would tell her she wasn’t good enough for him fat. She had the same girl on a season or so later after having gastric bypass, where she just gushed about how much better her life was now to enthusiastic applause.

  26. thoughtracer and Jane (“bunker 20,000 feet below sea level”–ha!) are awesome.

    I really have nothing personal against Oprah, but I agree with Becky, Meowser et al. that her personal struggles and the platform she has for influencing women in all kinds of ways are two different things. It may not mean I hate her (I don’t) but I do really resent that someone with such entrenched issues is the one who has been allowed to set the message about weight in our society for so long now. As one relatively minor example, Oprah decides white sugar is poison and the source of all her problems, so the low-carb craze remains a pain in my ass for that much longer. And that’s to say nothing of the appalling example Joy gave of how she saw nothing wrong with a father not loving his own daughter solely due to her weight. I have sympathy for her and her issues as a human being, but that doesn’t mean I think she should be allowed to work those issues out at the expense of a whole lot of viewers who look up to her and are influenced by her.

  27. Peter Walsh’s segment (based on his book) about clutter and fat bothers me and I knew that having him on Oprah was a big issue because she is SO into dieting and quick fixes. I also have an issue with it because of the psychological issues often involved with people who are truly cluttered. This same man did a segment on Oprah not too long ago dealing with hoarders and they didn’t do nearly enough to deal with the psychological issues–they basically just cleared her house and gave her new furniture. They did send her to see a therapist but the segment made it all seem like a fairy tale–she is messy and has problems and now, whoosh, they are gone. True hoarders, not just messy people like me, have to do a lot of mental work to let go–and will often have severe problems if you just yank their stuff away.

    Now he is saying that the same things that lead to clutter lead to weight gain–and for Walsh that usually means you are holding on to bad feelings in the past or are overwhelmed emotionally.

    If you let go of the bad feelings (and the clutter you are keeping because of it) apparently the weight on your ass will fall right off.

    Gee, I wish it were that easy.

    He’s an interesting guy and has some good ideas on organizing and honoring your stuff, but I think he should be leaving dieting advice alone.

  28. Wish, you’re right in that she didn’t SAY “Attaboy Daddy! Hate that blubber right off your daughter’s body!”
    But she didn’t even pay lipservice to the idea of non-conditional love. Not that parents have to adore their children no matter what, but I was FLOORED that she didn’t say anything that might make me believe she thought any differently than that man did.

  29. When I posted the Mo’Nique Oprah clip the other day, I noted that it’s sad how Oprah is not going to be inspiring any more young fat black women like she did Mo’Nique. Because her very public lack of body harmony will only teach them that if you’re successful you have to immediately use your money towards losing weight, or your weight loss does not count.

  30. Hey Annie, glad you like my seeking term!

    Oprah has done a lot when it comes to empowering others and helping people, moreso than other celebrities and prominent people. But she goes about it all wrong sometimes.

    She was asked why she wouldn’t build a school for poor American kids after her announcement about the South African school, and she replied that they (American kids) wouldn’t appreciate what she was trying to do because they care more about Xboxes and sneakers. While it’s true there are materialistic kids out there, she generalized all poor American kids as undeserving of her help. Not cool O!

    That goes right into her advertising all these fad diets and unrealistic self-help crap. Instead of promoting HAES, she buys into the “OMG OBESITY KILLS TEH FATTIES!” and stereotypes us overweight and/or obese people as lazy, unclean, and constantly shoving fast food and junkfood into our mouths 24/7, that we have no right to feel sexy and confident. Bull-shyte, I say O!

  31. I ranted and raved about this over at The F-Word, but I’ll probably do it again here.

    Oprah has so much media power and talent, and it’s such a shame that ‘s being used on thing like ridiculous diet advice. You’d think that someone like her would know better; it seems like she’s tried every weight loss scheme short of WLS, and at the end of the day, she’s still the same. It’s a vicious cycle.

  32. I saw the post-WLS episode with that woman, Joy, and I totally share your outrage about it. I kept expecting Oprah to tell the father something along the lines of, “You know, it’s really fucked-up to withhold love from your child like that,” and was just flabbergasted that it never came.

    Oprah didn’t cheer him on or anything, but to me the general tone of the story seemed to be, well, she lost the weight and got daddy’s approval, so no harm done. Except for, y’know, the terrible emotional pain that comes with being treated like that by your own father.

  33. Oy. What if we took all this completely justified vitriol and actually figured out a way to send Oprah a message – some kind of petition or something? And let her know we’re frankly sick of her self-hatred and think she needs to get a frigging clue, and please stop trying to make the rest of feel bad so she might feel a little better about herself, and I don’t know, get educated for Chrissakes about dieting. I don’t think she’s a complete goner, I mean, I think she might be salvagable – but I agree with whoever said that she’s really trapped within her success. Who knows if she can even hear the voice of reason anymore regarding fat acceptance, but maybe it’s worth a try.

  34. Years ago, there was a “race to the bottom” on daytime TV. All the shows were trying to out-sensationalize each other. Oprah was sensationalizing along with the crowd, doing ok in the ratings, but not stellar. One day she has an epiphany and starts replacing the crazies with uplifting-type people. Trying to celebrate the good. Suddenly Oprah was #1 in the ratings.

    That could happen again. Convince her that “going positive” again (this time with weight) will have the same effect, and she just might do it.

  35. I have just spent the better part of the day arguing with a friend who is just convinced that the HAES and FA people are telling people that it’s ok to eat like crap and never exercise.

    I threw a bunch of articles at her, and her response is “I don’t have time to read those.” However, she does have time to write these huge diatribes about how even though she’s not reading the research, she KNOWS that any study that says that “calories in, calories out” is wrong is bullshit and bad science.

    She’s just so invested in diet culture, she won’t actually read what people say. I’m just really frustrated about it right now.

    On the other hand, UWPhysicians network is Seattle is no longer prescribed calorie restriction for obesity. I can link you to my blog, which links to another blog that talks about it.


  36. On the other hand, UWPhysicians network IN Seattle is no longer prescribING calorie restriction for obesity. I can link you to my blog, which links to another blog that talks about it.

  37. Amen.
    I think my biggest moment of Oprah outrage was at one of her shows on gastric bypass- she had a gorgeous fat girl sitting next to her father who had explicitly said that he would never love her if she never became thin.
    Oprah sat across from them and drank it in. No scolding, no “shame on you!”, no “how can you say such a thing about your own child?”
    She just sat and nodded and acted like it was completely understandable to hate your baby for not being able to do the thing that 98% of people are unable to do.

    It’s always a fantasy of mine in reruns that that girl just breaks out and pounds on her dad, and when he foams at the mouth and banishes her from the house, Oprah takes her in and puts her in charge of giving away the cars to the audience.

  38. Oprah is the face of conspicuous consumption. If Oprah were a country, she’d be Dubai, building luxury islands out of dredged sand and improbable ski resorts in the desert. Oprah kicked so much ass in The Color Purple that I fell in girlcrush love with her and Whoopi both. Today’s Oprah is a big disappointment.

  39. I guess it’s slightly off-topic, but since others brought it up, I want to talk about it too!

    The whole clutter = fat/fat = clutter theory has been going around the home organization and decorating movement for a long time now, and it makes me fricking CRAZY. I have often thought maybe it deserved an entire post here, because it’s sooooo prevalent.

    I gave up FlyLady when she started talking about food and weight, b/c it was trigging my old eating disorder shit. I stopped hanging out at one of my favourite blogs, apartmenttherapy.com, because that whole fat/clutter alignment seemed to be getting worse and worse. Once I even posted to chastise the blog host for promoting an article on the “longevity” benefits of permanent underweight and calorie restrictions, where he was trying to relate it to the small space “less is more” theory. This man is a psychologist. I let him know that he was doing more to promote eating disorders than he was possibly aware of. He didn’t really back down – just said it was “just” an article of interest or something, and then posted a pic of my apartment’s mural, from my user name link, to try to molify me.

    Seriously, I used to have a messy, cluttered apartment. After four years of hard work, I have a very organized, tidy, and well-decorated apartment that I love and that reaps me lots of compliments. Guess what? Still fat! I do know there were lots of emotional and psychological issues tied to my messiness, and I worked through most of them. (Still have to clean out the spare room, though!) But it still didn’t make me any thinner, anymore than four years of physical sweat work to clear out, clean up, and re-decorate (up to and including putting in my own flooring) did. And I’m getting really, really, really pissed at the insistence that there is, indeed, a connection. Once again, correlation does not equal causation!

    Forgive my mouth-foaming….this particular topic is near and dear to my heart, as a self-proclaimed Decorating Queen. ;)

  40. Quoting Denise: “What if we took all this completely justified vitriol and actually figured out a way to send Oprah a message – some kind of petition or something? And let her know we’re frankly sick of her self-hatred…”

    I guess I missed something here. I thought the idea was to convince Oprah to do a show on FA and HAES.

    It seems to me to be completely CONTRADICTORY for this particular movement to tell another woman that we KNOW how she feels.

    I’m not trying to pick on you in particular, Denise. I just happened to use your quote, but I’m speaking generally here:

    We can think her use of her personal media platform is irresponsible and that she and her producers are ill-informed, but it’s as hypocritical to say we know how she feels and how she should feel as it is for someone to tell me how much I should weigh and how I should feel about my weight.

    Oprah’s hour of mainstream women’s magazine-style content is only as guilty of promoting fat-bashing as any other media outlet. Seriously, why be harder on her than on, say, the NYT? Is it because she’s fat and “should know better?”


  41. Let’s face it, all Oprah is now is a hour long infomercial. She has her famous celebrity friends, doctors, trainers, psychologists, products and the like. I am sick to death of her and wish she could see through her own self hatred to go back to what she is really good at, connecting with people and talking about issues, not selling her publisher’s friends books.

  42. Buttercup – Oprah is an *amazing* actress. I’ve long said that I just wish to hell she’d stick to that!

    Stacy, Oprah’s been spewing “how she feels” all over the public for decades. If there’s anyone who we can say we have an inkling how they feel, it’s someone who’s made a career of telling us precisely how she feels about everything. None of that excuses her projecting it onto everyone else, but then again no one’s forcing anyone to watch her either. I turned the show off nearly 15 years ago. My life hasn’t been emptier for it.

  43. I’d like to know what Oprah’s Fantasy of Being Thin is. She’s a multi-millionaire, a celebrity, and the holder of the biggest megaphone in the media, what does she honestly think being thin gets her? What does she want from life that she feels she can’t just reach out and have?

    Oh, and I hope she doesn’t stop giving things away, some day I hope to break her heart with my hard-luck story so she buys me a house.

  44. I think Oprah is projecting her beliefs, thoughts, values onto others… she believes she is the size she is because of emotional eating, and that’s fine if that is what SHE believes– she just shouldn’t push it as THE solution to everyone else… having said that, it’s her show, with her opinions, so I just choose not to watch.

  45. Stacy, I feel like you’re not really reading what people are saying here.

    Most commenters clearly don’t hate the woman, and most of us have been where she is right now; stuck in that cycle of deprivation, fad diets, and weight loss/gain.

    I think we all sympathise with that.

    What we don’t condone (and I’d argue can NOT condone as part of FA) is how she uses her influence to push this message onto others, and does nothing for those fat women who have been on her show and have been treated appallingly by family members. To sit there and allow a father to say he can’t love his daughter because of her weight is glaringly awful, and to appear to condone that on public TV? What message does that send?

    You can’t blame people for growing frustrated and tired with someone who trots out the same party line that most of us are trying to change.

    Not to mention the fact that I do not see how ‘we’ are being harder on her than any other public figure or media outlet who expresses anti-fat sentiments. We’re criticising her words just as we criticise anyone else who buys into society’s messed up party-line about body image and natural weight.

    Maybe the difference is that this time you have a respect for the person we are criticising?

    Personally, I think Oprah has done a lot of good, just not for the FA movement and certainly not for fat people as a whole.

  46. Hi Stacy,
    I hear what you’re saying, and if the tone of my post was harsh it’s because of just feeling the frustration of what so many have pointed out here – that Oprah wields huge power and influence, is the most (financially) successful woman of color (who knows, maybe any woman?) like, ever, and the energy she spends on not only perpetuating her own body unacceptance on the rest of us but on profiting from the the low esteem for their bodies so many of us struggle with… and the frustration that if Oprah would see the light and embrace FA, how much good would that do?

    I do like the idea of a petition, okay, not worded the way I mentioned earlier, but a thoughtful, intelligent presentation of the principles and real scientific evidence that supports the FA movement. I feel like the FA community might just have enough public awareness right now that she might actually look at it. And I do think that it would be appropriate, given Oprah’s vast influence, to let her know how harmful her own body issues are to her and to the millions of women who watch her show and buy her magazine.

    And sure, it would be awesome for FA activists to get on her show – any visibility the movement can get, the more the insane messages of the media will be challenged and the more people that might just stop the madness. I vote for Kate!!

  47. Anyone watch “The L Word”? I just saw a couple episodes this week for the first time…Last night, there was a gay basketball star hating on gays to the press. He was outed by one of the main characters, who was in turn attacked for “ruining his life”. Her basic response was, “I will not apologize. It is ok to be in the closet. It is NOT ok to publicly hate on a group of people who are harassed and treated like garbage everyday, particularly when he is a very popular public figure.”

    Just seemed applicable. Oprah should either take her fat hatred into the closet, or shut the hell up.

    It just reminded me of this discussion.

  48. Gemma, Denise, et al. Actually, I do understand what people are saying and I understand everyone’s frustration. However, I know that if I discovered FA on a Wednesday, it may not be ’till the next Friday that Oprah discovers it.

    I doubt that Oprah is going to encounter FA personally by just coming across this blog, or happening upon an article. I suspect her lifestyle is pretty insulated, and she probably doesn’t spend a huge about of time just surfing the internet for information about weight.

    But I know that Oprah’s producers will be coming across this stuff because that’s their job. I’m a professional news producer, and it takes a while for memes or trends to get acted on by any show. The FA movement is just now getting real exposure in other media.

    Mo at BFD asked folks to suggest this as a show topic for Oprah, and a bunch of folks over there (including myself0 recommended it via Mo’s link to Oprah’s site. So the Producers will see it, and they will do the research. Petitions are fine, writing in is fine.

    I rarely see Oprah’s show and I don’t care whether people love her or hate her. I think it’s clear that Oprah’s own feelings about her weight and her related shows are very mainstream and reflect her lack of education on the subject, and it’s not for me to say whether she’s full of “self-hatred.”

    It’s productive to help her get informed, but unproductive to project onto her that you know she hates herself. She wants to be thin because she’s mainstream. She things shows about dieting are what people want to see. (They do track these things via ratings and show response, you know.)

    The producers are far from likely to book a show where they expect everyone to be turning to Oprah and saying “take your self-hatred and shove it, lady.”

    Like I said previously, she’s had a lot of forms of societally prescribed potential self-hatred to overcome in her life (poor, black, female, fat), and I suspect she’ll come around to this at some point too. Giving her a fair shot seems like the best strategy.

  49. I may be the last comment on this, but I have to post, this topic just gets to me. Oprah seems to be stuck in Stage 2 on this subject. She seems to think that because her struggles with weight are due to disordered, emotional eating, it is exactly the same for all other fat people. But let’s cut her some slack, people. This stuff is hard!!!

    You know, until I came upon this movement (um, like two months ago, and I’m 27), I thought she was right. Not because I blindly accept everything Oprah says as The Word (and I don’t think all women do – let’s give our sisters a little more credit than that) but because her experience is my experience. And other people’s experiences too, I bet. Look at her viewership: the message about emotional eating – not just dieting – must resonate with people.

    For me, gaining weight because of emotional eating stinks. It doesn’t feel healthy – it’s the result of a disorder, not healthy choices. I can’t speak for Oprah, but I DO love myself no matter what. It’s because of that love that I don’t want to abuse myself through emotional eating. Finding your way out of that can be so tricky.

    I do watch the show regularly, and have a mixed bag of feelings toward her. But, from watching her it is pretty apparent that she thinks she’s the cat’s meow. She dresses well and puts herself on the cover of O magazine month after month. Not a lot of apparent body-hatred there. I just think she wants out of emotional eating.

  50. OK, off topic, but did anyone else see this one today?

    Apparently fatties don’t wear seatbelts.

    I don’t know what I find worse about this article–the idea that we are more likely to be costing people money with our bad accidents (due to lack of seatbelts) or the idea that car manufacturers aren’t dealing with seatbelts for the 215 pounders+. OMG. Did it really say something like that or am I hallucinating?

    I wear my seatbelt. I have since 1978 when my thin little aunt died in a car accident while not wearing her seatbelt. How about you?

  51. Hey Stacy,
    Thanks for the info about Mo’s link to Oprah. I think I will send her a friendly message about how it would be great to see her cover FA on her show. You’re right, accusing someone of self-hatred is a good way to get them really defensive and not exactly in our corner. I do think Oprah has the potential to be an ally for the movement – maybe? I don’t know, though. She’s awfully invested in the whole Love Yourself Thin thing, emotionally and financially. Anyway, you’re absolutely right that tone is important when negotiating this stuff. This blog is a great place to blow off steam, though, and that also can help fire people up enough to speak out and to act.

  52. Stacy, no worries about the italics! I get my HTML messed up all the time. :)

    I must confess that I don’t see people as projecting self-hatred on to her. After all, most of us have been where she is; longing to be thinner, even skinny, and fighting against our own bodies. From what I experienced, and from what others have said here, self-loathing was a huge part of that.

    When you can’t meet your goals, how do you feel? Frustrated, angry, helpless? And when you’re setting your goals and are being told from every corner that you can only get there with “will power” and “hard work”, and yet you try and try and keep “failing”; don’t we all start to hate ourselves?

    I don’t see how its projecting to recognise the situation for what it clearly is.

  53. Would it be nice if Oprah used her show as a platform to promote body acceptance? Sure. But does she deserve this degree of venom for failing to do so? I personally don’t believe she does…

    As others pointed out above, her program has long been a platform for Oprah to explore the topics that she and her viewership find interesting. I personally don’t find it suprising that such a type A personality would have become obsessed with weight loss, as it is seemingly the one goal she has set for herself that she has been consistently unable to achieve. And frankly I imagine that it is even harder for someone with a profession in television to embrace fat acceptance due to the constant pressure of the industry. No doubt Oprah is aware that she is built to be a larger woman, but she is also probably only too aware that when has crash dieted her way down to a size 6 or 8, she is still enormous by television and movie standards where a size 2 is “normal”. To overcome that type of outside pressure would take a strength that I certainly lack. I feel I have come a long way in accepting my own body, but I’m not under constant scrutiny (other than from my mother) and nobody is going to write a tabloid story about every pound I gain. Oprah is an amazing and strong woman who has done a lot of good, but her fame doesn’t negate her right to have a few weaknesses like any other person nor does her being a famous fat woman obligate her to take up the banner of FA or HAES. For good or evil, her obligation is to her producers and advertisers, not to this movement.

  54. Gemma, I know you’re not addressing me so excuse my butting in!

    Oprah’s whole thing (of course, just as *I* see it) is: she attributes her fat to emotional eating, so she assumes that’s why others are fat. You know, her experience is also everyone else’s experience.

    Automatically assuming she hates herself (when there’s a lot of evidence to the contrary) because of your experiences is participating in that same kind of somewhat limited thinking, isn’t it?

    I don’t mean to be insulting. I am beginning to wrap my mind around this issue; I hope that I don’t offend in the process – that is not my intent.

  55. Kim, I didn’t see anything wrong with that particular article. I did see some pretty bad articles on that study, but this one seemed pretty good to me. It highlighted a real problem – that car makers make seatbelts to accomodate a seated hip circumference of 47 inches, and people who are larger than that may have difficulty wearing a seatbelt. It placed the focus on the seatbelts, not the people wearing them, it quoted NAAFA and Paul from BigFatBlog, and it didn’t say anything about fat people costing more money because they don’t wear seatbelts.

  56. Gemma –

    I guess you’re right that’s for many people self-loathing is a big part of fighting against one’s body. And it makes me really sad. My own experience was very different. Conscious self-loathing wasn’t very much a part of the process.

    I was put on diets by my extremely (and artificially) thin mother, despite the fact that I wasn’t overweight. Of course, I eventually became overweight from all the damn dieting. :P

    But I was really lucky: for some reason, I always thought that it didn’t make sense for my mother to think my weight was the most important thing about me, and I rebelled by deciding I kicked ass anyway. (That’s not to say I escaped the brain-washing, but I thought my health was the reason to lose weight. I’m thrilled to find out it’s not.)

    For me, being fat is a trait of mine, as is being fun, having blue eyes, or tending to have younger women mentees around me all the time.

    Having said all that though — I’m a HUGE feminist. And I don’t think my mom, society, or individual strangers should feel such ownership over women’s bodies. (So you can see why this struck a chord with me, heh.) Even though I didn’t have a lot of self-loathing related to my weight, it makes me FURIOUS that other women have to feel that way.

    Either way, I think we all have the same goal and I’m all for it. I also really love discussing this stuff and am thrilled to have found this community.

    P.S./ O.T. Speaking of mentees, I’m working with a beginning producer who’s doing a piece on race a beauty. We’re just getting started, and we’re exploring other media that’s out there and we came across this video. I’d seen the Dove “Evolution” but never this one.

    Have you all seen it? It breaks my heart!!!!

  57. @Becky,
    I guess I’m feeling rather sensitive right now. I’m really new to FA and I’ve been horrified by stuff on tv or my rss feed for the past few weeks. I guess I just feel pounded from every side right now so I saw the headline that the obese don’t wear seatbelts and jumped to conclusions. This must have colored my reading of the article. I’ll look at it again now that I’ve had time to breathe. Having a bad day.

  58. Kim, sorry to hear you’re having a bad day! I definately went through the first thing when I first discovered FA- I became hyperaware of all the fat-bashing going on in the media and it made me crazy. And as for the article – I’d already seen articles about the “obese don’t wear seatbelts” study, so this article might just have seemed positive to me in comparison to those.

  59. “I doubt that Oprah is going to encounter FA personally by just coming across this blog, or happening upon an article. I suspect her lifestyle is pretty insulated, and she probably doesn’t spend a huge about of time just surfing the internet for information about weight.”

    I really have to disagree here. Oh, not about her surfing the net, but about the premise. She was talking about FA principles practically 20 years ago – they’re pretty easy for anyone who is a seeker, or a searcher, and has been fat all their lives, to intuit. Not to mention, this is *not* a new movement – it goes back at least to the 70s. But you don’t have to discover the “movement” to know anything about FA, or to recognize the failure of diets, etc. Also, for someone like her who preaches self-love so ceaselessly, as the panacea for all ills, it’s pretty odd that she would leave fat women out of that. I honestly do not consider the fact that she hasn’t discovered the *online movement* to be any excuse in this case. That’s easily remedied. Her fat-phobia, not so much.

  60. EAC said: “Automatically assuming she hates herself (when there’s a lot of evidence to the contrary) because of your experiences is participating in that same kind of somewhat limited thinking, isn’t it?”

    How is it limited thinking?

    What’s that expression: ‘if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck; it’s a duck’?

    I think the issue here is assuming that I ‘automatically’ looked at Oprah and went, “wow, she’s a self-loather alright!”. Rather, her own actions and words have made that seem apparent. A lot of her behaviour and comments about her own body demonstrate a profound unhappiness with *who she is*. That is definitely a form of self-loathing. Hell, I’d even go so far as to argue that when you work *that* hard against all odds because you just can’t stand to let your body be its natural size, that it’s self-loathing.

    Honestly, I’m sort of confused by why anyone would not see her behaviour as such. Particularly because she lists emotional eating as her problem. Everyone I’ve ever talked to (and everything I’ve read) who do, or did, emotionally eat describe feelings of shame, guilt, self-loathing, and a sense of helplessness. Those are all classic symptoms of the ‘disease’ (in the sense of an ED).

    I didn’t look at myself, look at Oprah, and decide I knew all about her internal-workings. In many ways we’re total opposites: although I have been an emotional eater in the past, I’ve always learnt strongly towards anorexia as a former sufferer and rarely suffered such extreme variations in weight since my default state has always been deprivation.

    Over the years, as part of my recovery, I’ve devoured a lot of information about EDs (and, by extension, yo-yo dieting) and met with a lot of fellow sufferers. I see a lot of them and their personal issues in the things Oprah has said and done, and that’s why I “assume” she deals with feelings of self-loathing.

  61. Hmm… I don’t know much about Oprah (I live in Europe and additionally don’t own a TV set), but I have the feeling, that she wouldn’t even be as powerfull as she is, if she wasn’t “fat”. I mean, wouldn’t she have been far more exposed to all those stereotypes of the sexy (black) woman, if she had conformed? Sadly, I just can’t see the stereotypical example of how women are supposed to look being taken that seriously on matters other than dieting and fashion.

Comments are closed.