Just from typing that headline, I half expect men carrying semi-automatic weapons to descend upon my home and steal me away to some prison in Guam, where they secretly hold women who question the authority of Oprah Winfrey.
But I seem to be fine so far, so let’s proceed…
Over at Salon, Genevieve Walker interviews Kathryn Lofton, author of the book “Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon.” Among the themes Lofton explores, writes Walker, is the idea that Oprah is “a religious leader for an America increasingly skeptical about organized religion.”
And I find that all fascinating. But before we go into that, I’ll fully disclose and tell you when I first realized that I would never be an Oprah-file.
It was back in college, when my roommate showed me her Oprah 365-day calendar, which had nuggets of wisdom from Winfrey for every day of the year. Almost every single message, I soon found out, was about how to manage your weight and love your body.
Anyone that obsessed with their body, I thought, doesn’t have a very good grasp on how to love said body. Besides, I would argue that thinking about your perceived fatness every single morning is counterproductive to those who want to loose themselves from the grip of body hatred.
To be fair, it didn’t help that I was recovering from anorexia and my roommate was in the throes of bulimia. Maybe I was extra-sensitive. But whatever the case, watching my roommate be told that cake doesn’t equal love and to eat in moderation every single day by a woman who had repeatedly gained and lost the same 75 pounds just didn’t sit well with me.
I could never take Oprah seriously from that point on, and in fact I would go so far as to say that for a while there, I outright disliked her.
I’ve come around a bit, and I respect her work immensely and you can’t deny that she’s a brilliant businesswoman. But I’ll never lose the bad taste in my mouth over the millions she made selling empty promises of happiness to desperate women.
So, yeah. I’m not surprised that her word is being compared to a religion, since people behind religious pulpits are so often the ones who can’t practice what they preach. But what about you? Do you heart Oprah?