I recently saw a magazine cover advertising an interview about Oprah Winfrey’s “diet secrets.” My immediate reaction was frustration. If I were #blessed with the opportunity to interview Oprah, one of the most powerful and intelligent women in the world, the last thing I would ask her about would be her weight or her diet.
Currently, Oprah is a spokesperson for Weight Watchers, so she is most likely contractually obligated to discuss her weight and diet in interviews. That said, Oprah has been scrutinized for her weight for many years, long before her work with Weight Watchers. Whether she loses or gains a few pounds, the media discusses it. Sometimes she is praised, and other times she is criticized. Either way, this is a major problem.
By constantly praising and criticizing one of our most smart and successful women for her weight alone, we are teaching women and girls that their bodies are more important than their hearts or brains. If the body of a woman as loving, giving, resilient, and intelligent as Oprah is constantly being picked apart, we are perpetuating the idea that all of her other qualities and strengths aside from her body are irrelevant and worthless.
Oprah is one of many examples of powerful, inspirational women whose bodies are constantly being picked apart. This seems to be an issue with celebrity women but not celebrity men. If Oprah or Melissa McCarthy gains or loses a few pounds, it is a major headline and a topic of every interview. If Russell Crowe or Jay Z gains or loses a few, it is barely talked about. Men are saluted or criticized for their accomplishments in business, charity, art, sports, family, etc. Women are praised or torn down for their “successes” or lack thereof in taking up less physical space or gaining six pack abs.
There is nothing wrong with losing or gaining weight, but like men, women are so much more than our bodies, and our weight should not be the focus of all attention paid to us.