Monday, January 05, 2009

oh, oprah

i'm watching oprah's show from this morning, the dreaded show wherein she talks about her (gasp) drastic weight gain to a (gasp) whopping 200 pounds. personally, i think the election pushed her over the edge, the way it pushed most of us closer to the brink of insanity.

but i'm noticing her language: 'fat wins' and 'my life is out of balance' and 'i am ashamed of my body.' she described feeling ashamed and apalled during a show with tina turner and cher, wanting to hide when they called her onstage to sing 'proud mary' with them. (ironic, huh?) she called herself 'unhinged,' 'imbalanced,' 'unhappy,' empty.

she seemed really angry at herself, at her body, and i said to Roomie, 'I have never thought these things about myself.' neither has Roomie, who's a big soft girl like me.

sure, i look at my body and go, 'dammit, i'm not 27 anymore!' or, during an afternoon frolic with the LTF, and he's moving my soft body around, i have the stray thought, 'wow, he just moved my post-Agatha kangaroo pouch out of the way to get at me.' i giggled because the moment was absurd.

i'm surprised at the strength of oprah's shame and anger at herself. oh, i get it (society's messages about aging, weight, the objectification of women's bodies, blah blah blah) but at the same time, i don't understand why she's fighting herself so much.

oprah, maybe you're not meant to be 160 pounds! maybe your body wants to be 200 lbs!

a couple of years ago, i wrote down my weight number and encouraged all 5 of my readers to share theirs and one said that she was surprised to find how hard it was to share it publicly. so i'm going to do it again: i weigh 222 lbs. i weigh more than oprah. my whole life i've hovered between 215 and 220 but i don't think i've ever looked at my body and hated it as much as oprah hates hers.

or maybe i'm just a badly trained fat girl who didn't read the memo that i'm supposed to internalize this shit.


Orange said...

Jeeze, doesn't O Magazine have any helpful articles for the self-loathing fat woman?

And doesn't Oprah have a therapist to help her with this baggage?

liza said...

I think the key thing is that the fat is incidental to the self-loathing; its the occasion for it in some ways that gets socially reinscribed. I'll be honest, for me I have to work hard to not be ashamed of my body. There's always this embarrassing background notion that I have to fight that my life would be better if I just lost x number of pounds. I'd be healthier, happier, cuter... But then I've got food/body issues that will never be resolved beyond: look, there they are, and they're not me. It's self esteem stuff that gets literally embodied because women are so totally equated with their physical selves. My mom "let" me diet with her when I was 8 yrs old. When I got to college I gave up diets, and then about 5 yrs ago I dieted and lost 60 lbs, and then found almost all of them again. Last year, when I was pregnant was the first time I *didn't* hate my belly. I should know better. I do know better. 240.

ding said...

you're right. the self-hatred comes first, then the fat. and it's interesting how our mothers are often (not always!) implicated in that first moment of self-disgust.

slightly OT, years ago i was at a party where there was another fortune teller type, and the first question he asked me was 'What did your mother say to you that made you hate yourself?'

(so i guess that earlier statement i made about never having those thoughts about myself was just this side of inaccurate. more accurate to say that i haven't had those thoughts about myself since college.)

but i guess i was just taken aback at her anger toward her self.

most of us have been bombarded with the messages about our bodies and struggled to replace these messages with other, more helpful ones. but where does the anger come from? where is even the acceptance of the struggle against the messages?

(and this is wholly rhetorical, not a question i expect anyone to really answer.)

ding said...

and then there's this from the New Yorker, which encapsulates how crazy all this fat-shame (like oprah's 'live your best life' plan) really is.

Meekster said...

How much of this is true and how much of it is purely for ratings, though? I admit, I'm becoming more skeptical of her motives.

I currently weigh 332 pounds. That's down a bunch, and a bunch more to go. My goal is to be at *MY* perfect weight (where I felt perfectly happy, although it's teetering on the borderline with 'obese' for some stupid reason) by my 50th birthday...or else really, really close.

I'm 5'9" tall and am fortunate to carry my weight over my entire body, so people tend to underestimate my actual weight.

I'm finally at the point in my life where I don't feel like I need to keep this wall between me and the world in order to keep my inner child safe. Progress, indeed. :)

Blog on, Ding. You ROCK!

ding said...

yours is the attitude i wish oprah had! (though who am i to wish anything of La Oprah?)

re: Ophrah and ratings: i am going to accept her at her word and give her the benefit of the doubt that she overextended herself, fell into a mild depression and ate too much as a way to cope. (hey, that happens!)

but i do think that she has tapped into the vast anxiety women feel now about themselves, their families, their relationships, etc. she tapped into and now she can't leave it (hence all the "Live Your Best Life" stuff.)

what if she just told women, 'you know, life is too short to live a life of deprivation and hunger. control what you can and chuck all the rest'?

isn't that a healthier message, instead of some really regimented battle cry to 'live your best life'? (with an implied '-or else' at the end.)

(and thanks for dropping by!)

Amy Reynaldo said...

Perhaps the biggest gift our mom gave me and my sister was not having issues about her body. Mom was naturally thin, never dieted, never talked about food or bodies as enemies, always accepted her A-cup breasts as just fine, and never said a critical word about her daughters' bodies or appearance. My sister and I have more body issues than Mom, but far less than most women. In fact, we're like men—we tend to think our figures are better than they are, and we're surprised that we don't look skinnier in photos. We probably actually have that 15 pounds that we think the camera's adding, but we don't much care.

SiddityintheCity said...

I've gone back up to 200 even now, and I'm not happy, but just because I can *feel* the 15 I've regained in the last 6 months. I feel them when I'm running to the bus stop, mostly.

But I have also spent the last several years, (and last few days, thanks to an old crush) wondering why I am not more ashamed of my body? Because I am okay with it. I hide nothing from lovers. I figure if they're there, they must know what they are getting into.

At the same time, I wonder how often my body prevents me from netting a lover, yielding a friend.

As for Oprah, I think she is sincere. I can't imagine anyone living through the appearance-driven entertainment industry and not developing some body issues, and for months, her weight has literally been water cooler conversation at my media-focused office, so I know it is a legitimate issue/concern for her. I just think it's convenient that she also stands to profit from sharing her issues.

Meekster said...

You're very welcome, Ding!

For the record, I'm *not* dieting. In fact, currently, I'm eating a really, really bad lot of food that has more to do with severe and seemingly unrelenting lack of fundage than anything else. Still losing weight. Why? Because my landlord refuses to do the shoveling, as does the upstairs tenant. I was out there for 2 hours last night and another hour tonight. After a 12-block walk. Which was more about needing to get out of the house than the actual exercise. I dropped 5 pounds last month from just shoveling. Yeah, winter sucks.

I've had body issues since I was 5 and was molested. Sure, there are people who don't want much to do with me because I'm faaaaaat. Screw them. They have way more problems than I do, and I honestly feel sorry for people like that. There are a lot more people who look to the inner and not the outer so much.

I had a physician throw my fasting blood results in my face (quite literally) and tell me he didn't believe that I was hypoglycemic. I *had* to be diabetic, because I was obese. Never mind the 5-generation history (as far back as we know) of hypoglycemia in the women on my mother's side of the family. Oh, no, I *have* to be diabetic.

The people (mostly women, but some men) I really detest are the ones who are of normal weights who are all hung up on whether eating a donut will blimp them out. For crying out loud, EAT THE DAMN THING!!! Unless you've got an actual medically documented condition where you *do* have to watch what and how much you eat, get over it and live a little, people! Life's too damn short to eat bad food 'just because it's good for me.' Ick.

I eat chocolate. I drink strong coffee. I eat real butter (daily). I go through a dozen eggs in about 2 weeks. I'd rather eat a bit less of something that tastes good than a lot of something that tastes like cardboard.

Yeah, I blimped up. I was in a very happy relationship for a very long time. We both gained weight. We were both really good cooks. It happens. My beloved died 10-1/2 months ago. Do I get lonely? Bone-crushingly so, sometimes. Will I meet someone else? Probably not. Once you've met your soulmate, everyone else seems to pale by comparison. It's okay. I have a feeling I've got things to do that will make being single easier.

Gads. Sorry to verbally barf all over. I gotta quit doing this in the wee hours of the morning.

ding said...

@Amy - your mom sounds neat. my mother was incredibly supportive in some ways but also kind of unhelpful in that snitty filipina mother tradition: she had no problem pinching my side fat in public and making a disapproving sound with her teeth. ('thhht!')

i don't know if that was some internalized colonial spanish beauty standards shit or what. but it left a mental mark.

@Meekster - winter sucks but you're active! (just be careful with that shoveling! protect the back!) my ass is in love with my couch and that needs to change. not solely because of weight but because i don't like the way i feel when i'm sluggish. i much prefer how i felt a couple years ago when i was doing yoga every week - i felt strong, bendy, tall and i looked fantastic. (*i* thought i did, anyway.)

and, you know, i don't own a scale so my knowledge of my body's weight is all about how i feel inside my body. the only time i know what i weigh is when i visit the doctor.

i think talking about food like an accountant is boring (this is x calories, that has y carbs) and i avoid those conversations - life is too short, indeed.

so sorry about the loss of your beloved and i suspect you're right - once you've found the soulmate, nothing else quite compares. but here's to future adventures!

ding said...

@Sid - yes, she walks a complicated line. she puts her life in the public (more than other celebrities) but then feels the pressure of that public weight (both literally and figuratively) and her experience ends up in the public again, forcing the wheel to keep turning.

it sounds like hell, to me.

re: bodies and lovers - being the vain bitch that i am, i idly wonder if my sex life would suddenly improve if, say, i woke up one morning with the body of jennifer lopez. would i finally be able to get my fantasy object? would my relationship with LTF change? would it make me more successful at work? would i turn into a shallow tart? (this is more likely.)

then i resolve that yes, Ding in a smokinghot J-Lo body would be a bad bad bad thing and am grateful that i inhabit more humble digs. (which LTF still likes, after 8 years. his body hasn't changed all that much, dammit.)