The Big O

The frustrating contradictions of Oprah Winfrey.

Published August 19, 2008 2:45PM (EDT)

So here is something a bit odd from a recent New York Times story by Jessica Grose: A woman named Robyn Okrant is following all of Oprah Winfrey's advice for one year. She watches the show, reads the magazine and documents her experience on a blog called Living Oprah. Why would someone do this? Well, it's amazing what human beings in search of a book deal are capable of. And presumably, there is another goal here, a more earnest endeavor. As she wrote on her vision board (because Lord knows, if you follow Oprah's advice for one year, it's going to involve something like a "vision board"): "I wonder, will I find bliss if I commit wholeheartedly to her lifestyle suggestions?"

Well, probably not. But I bet her bathroom will smell nicer with all those fancy new products. My guess is that Okrant will discover the frustrating contradictions of Oprah Winfrey. Stories about embracing yourself as you are, followed by stories on how to lose those last 15 pounds. To be fair, the Big O is catering to her audience: They crave both messages. But Oprah has been a troublesome figure herself, and nowhere is that more clearly seen in her conflicted relationship with her weight. (Full disclosure: I am quoted in this article but, apparently, I had more to say.)

I suppose it's fashionable to slag Oprah Winfrey, but the truth is that I adore her. I grew up watching her show. I find her genuinely inspirational at times. But I find it frustrating that anyone peddles the idea that you can find true bliss -- unless that happens to be the name of a salt scrub at Origins -- for $10.99.

By Sarah Hepola

Sarah Hepola is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, "Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget."

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