Recently Oprah came to Australia to spend a ‘night’ with her fans. For a period of a few weeks my online world was surrounded by quotes, summaries, epiphanies and photos, all centered around this ‘night with Oprah’.
I have a lot of respect for Oprah- I really do. She most certainly has a very powerful voice, presence and message which is motivating and inspiring masses of women to transform their lives (mine included). I dig that.
But what I don’t dig is the revelation that in October 2015 Oprah bought 10% of Weight Watchers- which means she’s bought 6.4 million shares and could potentially buy 3.5 million more. All in all this might not seem a lot for a lady with a net worth of $3.1 billion, according to Forbes, however, ‘good’ investment or not I’m struggling to see how Oprah felt this was sensible, appropriate or authentic.
I could write an essay on why I think this is an outrageously stupid investment given we know, from diet research, that there’s a 90-95% failure rate.
….BUT I’d be missing the BIGGER bigger issue that has me confused, angry and disappointed, which is how a lady who has experienced her own difficulties with dieting,food and hating her body- has now found herself in the position where instead of helping, educating and supporting others to NOT make the same mistakes, is condoning and worse off investing money into the exact initiative that perpetuates these issues.
In other words Oprah, knowing full well that diets don’t work has chosen to fund a ‘solution’ which she inherently knows does not provide a solution, but rather perpetuates the issue.
I really struggle to comprehend this. And really all I can say is how disappointed I am.
….Disappointed that Oprah’s celebrity status is inadvertently going to send the message that dieting is ‘good’, worthwhile and ‘ok’. The message that women are not ‘ok’ as they are, at whatever weight they are.
….Disappointed that Oprah’s investment and the investment (whether financially or through some form of marketing), is significantly supporting the diet industry’s power and strength in the first place.
….Disappointed that Oprah is inherently supporting oppressive societal beliefs that self worth and weight are the same thing, or in other words that you can change the degree of your self worth by changing your weight.
No Oprah: No.
For as long as the diet cultures lives women will continue to put their lives on hold by ‘”Waiting on the weight”, as Sarah Jenks would describe.
Women will continue to punish and torture their bodies, misusing diets as ’emotional medicine’
Women will continue to feel ashamed, hatred, disgust for their body for which there is nothing wrong. The ‘wrong doing’ is coming from a society that expects all women to ‘look’ a certain way.
And to ‘ice the cake’ (bad pun given icing nor cake probably aren’t allowed in Weight Watcher’s) I can’t see how playing into the hands of an oppressive social message -condoning dieting- is in line with Oprah’s message of empowering women to live their best lives.
I can’t see this any other way: Investing in the diet industry is investing in disempowering women from living their best lives.
Massively disappointing from a woman I really do, most of the time, think hits the nail right on the head with such powerful and potentially poignant messages.
What do I suggest?
- Ditch the diet: Aside from this post I’ve written about how I loathe diets, a lot. You can read more here and here. The best thing you can do is open your mind up to the fact that diets aren’t going to get you any closer in the long run, to feeling better about yourself.
- Seek support: If you’re finding you keep rebounding every time you actively ‘try’ to stop feeling crazy around food and your body and nothing seems to be working, I strongly urge you to get some support. You don’t have to go at this alone.
- Find a way to become unapologetically you: If this statement falls on deaf ears then circle back to point number 2. The reality is that you’ll stop dieting if and when you start to open your mind up to the possibility that there is nothing inherently wrong with you. You’ve got to ask yourself how happy and healthy do you actually feel by feeling crazy about food and your body? How in control of food are you really- especially when you likely relate to the statements: I obsess about food daily, I can’t eat certain food out of fear of losing control and eating the lot, I believe my life will be better when I’m ‘thin’ so I diet/ fall off the wagon/ diet some more.
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