Monday, January 19, 2009

All the Wrong Messages Part 2.... Oprah's Pictures

Back in October, I posted about those irritating Electrolux ads with Kelly Ripa and the misguided messages that they send. My candidate for today is Oprah's magazine or, more specifically, the cover photos.

Now, don't get me wrong; I'm a big Oprah fan. She's smart, she's kind, and she seems like a real person. Plus she's done a lot to get people reading some great books, always a good thing in my mind. And her magazine is pretty good, in the ranks of women's magazines.

But unless you've been living under a rock for the last month or so, you have to have heard her confession that she's gained 40 lbs.

So why is her picture on the magazine cover this month (February) exactly the same as every other one? Heavily air-brushed and photoshopped, looking exactly like she looks at her lowest weight. I was trying to find an online copy of this, and the best I can do is direct you to the magazine site, which is here, and note that it's the pic that's on the bottom of the page where it says Hormones 101, the picture where she's dressed in yellow and holding cards (probably this direction won't work after a week or so). Small, but you get the idea.

It's not like I don't have some sympathy about this. I mean, if I were going to be on a magazine cover, I'm sure that I'd like to be as beautiful as possible (although being on the cover every month might lessen that desire a little). But the problem is, I think this just sends all the wrong messages. Primarily the message that you can't be seen in public unless you're thin. That being fat makes you less socially acceptable.

I'm not a fat of the idea of embracing your fat, of fat acceptance, particularly because too much body weight is, in general, not that great for you, and we should all be striving to be more healthy. But that's different from having to look like some ideal, and of hating yourself or finding yourself somehow socially unacceptable because you've put on some pounds. All of that just leads to the same wrong messages, the same self-esteem issues, the same social problems that so many of us have battled. And maybe I'm wrong or too idealistic, but it seems to me that someone like Oprah, someone who has been through these battles herself, should be the poster child for loving yourself at whatever weight you're at, not at airbrushing it away.

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