Anyone who’s followed Oprah’s career even tangentially knows the billionaire media star has had a lifelong struggle with weight. I recall seeing a photo of her several years ago where her size had dropped to an eight, maybe even a six. She was positively tiny. But her weight has ballooned again, and now she’s featured in a new ad for Weight Watchers. She allows some very vulnerable moments to show in the ad, including her very overweight self attempting to jog.
I’m fascinated by the impulse among media figures to make everything part of their public persona, and here to make the need to lose weight an opportunity to make money doing ads. Oprah hardly needs whatever money Weight Watchers paid her for this appearance. She can claim media attention for any number of things, just for the asking. But here she is, solemn-faced, saying it’s finally time. She’s going to do this. And anyone out there watching who needs to lose weight can do this too.
I wonder why she’s appearing in this ad, which verges on Far Too Much Information? Is it a way to hold herself publicly accountable for getting her ever-seesawing weight under control again? I have no idea.
I admire Oprah greatly for the media empire she’s built, for her acting skill in serious films like The Color Purple, and for her advocacy on the part of President Obama. I respect her for speaking out on the difficult issue of being a fat woman in a public and visible role. I just wonder why she does it in a paid ad instead of as a public health message on the dangers of obesity? That part, for me, is a bit discordant.