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Fat Like Me: Oprah Is Big Again (And Not In the Manner She Prefers)

I wonder why she had to announce it? She’s on TV everyday. You can see that she’s gained the weight back. Wait. She has a magazine to sell. Never mind. (Read her story here.)

That said, as a person who also struggles with weight and diet, I feel for Oprah. (All that rich just won’t buy her thin!) This also reminded me of one of my internal conflicts in regards to weight and the black woman. Obesity is a huge problem in the black community. One of the most common stereotypes of black women are that we are loud, unladylike, rude and horribly fat. Even though most people judge me by my intellect and charm, with me not being a size zero there is always a voice in the back of my head telling me not to lose weight because of my health or because I’ll feel better, but because I don’t want to be the stereotype.

Once again, everything about blackness is woefully political. Even my fat cells. Very, very annoying. I try to remind myself that I’m already refuting a stereotype by existing. I don’t need to be a size two to drive the point home. But the psychology of being black in America and dealing with negative images often means you spend a lot of time fighting the ignorance clogging up your own head.

That, and the public has issues with fat people to begin with, so it’s pretty easy to develop a complex and about ten or twelve eating disorders.

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22 thoughts on “Fat Like Me: Oprah Is Big Again (And Not In the Manner She Prefers)

  1. I think what Oprah fails to realize is that some people have a weight threshold. Meaning that some individuals’ bodies are predisposition to stay within a certain weight bracket. It’s one thing to WANT to be a size 6 but if your genetics do not call for you to naturally stay in that range, your body will revert back to the normal range that it is most comfortable in.Many black women fit this bill. If you got hips and thighs, it’s not going anywhere. I don’t care how many push-ups, sit-ups, or whatever you do. Regular exercise is important in order to keep women healthy but to starve yourself and work out like a maniac to achieve some sort of unrealistic weight level is crazy.Oprah needs to love and accept herself for who she is and quit trying to look like her yt viewers…If she wants to work on something, she’d probably do better to concentrate on that wig because it looks atrocious.

  2. Oprah looks good, right now, in 2009. She might not be at her smallest weight, but she looks good. Not “good for a black woman,” but just “good,” period. I hope that she does exercise and stay as healthy as she can, but even more, I hope that she forgives herself for having the body of a human being.

  3. Anonymous says:

    If I was a Billionaire I sure wouldn’t be starving. Eat, drink, and be merry! She was never meant to be “thin” and that’s OK. As long as she maintains her health she’ll be fine. Health for her will never be a size 6. She is too shapely (hips, thighs, breasts) for that.

  4. You’re right about Black fat politics, Snob. It’s odd: I didn’t have the same weight issues that I have now until I started developing friendships with white women and digesting white media culture. At the same time, I have found comfort in the fat acceptance movement, which is largely fronted by white women. There was a point a couple years ago when I was feeling mega fat and unattractive. I mean nobody was talking to me at the bars and clubs and this coincided with some dramatic weight gain. Then, I went back to PR to visit some family. When I went out to the bars, I had to beat the men off with a stick, gurl! I felt so sexy! That trip reminded me of the validation I used to feel around men of color – I always kept a date regardless of my size. But back home in the States, I was living in a predominantly white hipster neighborhood (and you know how thin they can be), hanging out with white people AND I just started working in office full of weight-obsessed women who just happened to be white. I was and felt like the biggest woman in the room. I know it’s an exaggeration, but it can be tough sometimes. I guess I don’t really have a point, but this post reminded me of that. I think race and weight meet somewhere in the middle. There are some people who accept me as a plump dumpling because I’m Black. I still don’t know if this is good or bad…I mean, if I were white would I not be as fierce?I like to think about how much money Oprah can make (like she needs more) if she celebrated her size and offered fat women an outlet or a community.

  5. That girl got her own chef! What would you do with all that loot O’s got? Eat broccoli spears? Sheeeeit!I think Oprah looks pretty damn good – she ain’t seventeen no more.Same thing the people are trying to do to Tyra Banks.I’ll sue Tyra myself if she diets away all that fine woman flesh she’s got.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Being curvy and shapely and being fat are different things. If your body fat is greater than 30%, you are not voluptuous or shapely. That’s just fat.I’m thinking when O was hovering around 160 that was her ideal weight.

  7. I can remember a time when I desperately wanted be skinny sooo bad. I wanted thin thighs that did not touch, stick arms, and a flat butt. Having grown up in a predominately white town and viewing mainstream media definitely sculpted my ideas on beauty. Developing a more utilitarian, feminist view of my body, and living and interacting in Black communities later sculpted my view on my body. The latter let me begin to see that my body WAS beautiful AS IS, the former let me know, that it didn’t and shouldn’t really matter either way.I’m an athlete. I’ve been an athlete nearly my entire life. For a few years, however, depression and the discovery of new activities meant that I spent significantly less time being active and more time eating more junk. I crossed the line from thick to chubby. I was at my worse- I didn’t feel that I looked good, and I wasn’t healthy.Back then especially, but to this day, I often eat my emotions, or out of boredom. I know that I am not alone in this. I know that I feel my best, and am at peak performance (athletically, and otherwise) when I eat to live and SAVOR my food.I think that our (Americans, and, especially Black Americans) relationship with food and exercise is so skewed. We walk and in general are less active than people in other countries, eat huge portions of unhealthy, synthetic foods. There is a chance that Oprah is slightly underweight on the left, but I doubt it. She is definitely overweight on the right. While she still looks good, I bet her bloop pressure is up a little, as well as her cholersterol levels and she’s more succeptible to develop diabetes. Sure, she’s probably programmed to have thighs that are slightly thicker, but that’s not the same as getting a little pudgy in the middle from having an emotional eating binge (which she does).I do not mean to marginalize overweight people. And, I think that we should be accepting and appreciative of varying sizes and shapes, we also need to be realistic about what’s truly the healthiest.It may seem like a pain in the ass, at first, trying to be healthy, but change often is hard. It takes time to adjust, and sometimes, yeah, you fall off and have to get going again. But it’s worth it. Quality of life isn’t stuffing your face and hating yourself, it’s being able to tie your shoes and do what you want to into old age. Contrary to popular belief, being unhealthy doesn’t always kill people, but it does catch up with people in the form of diseases, heart attacks, strokes, etc.

  8. I happen to think Oprah looks great. I like snob, have no idea why she’d want to publicize her weight gain, since you can clearly see she’s gained weight, and she’s sensitive about it. I just hope Oprah will focus on being strong and healthy and not so much on being thin which is difficult.I’ve struggled with my weight since I was a teen. I grew up in a predominatley white, jewish suburb. My friends were aways obsessed with weight and everything they put into their mouths. Their diets and exercise regimens where quite depressing. It also didn’t help growing up with a mother who’s a size 4. I did’t learn to accept my body and my curves until I went to college in DC.I have a tendency to use food for comfort and my size went out of control through my twenties into my early 30’s where i hit rock bottom weighing nearly 300lbs!! Needless to say, I was mortified and literally watching my life waist away. I was so ashamed of how I looked, I was shut in and isolated from people. Anyhow, I lost weight with the help of weight loss internist who put me on a diet and exercise regimen. I’ve lost nearly 100lbs and my life has changed exponentially. I’m a mush healthier person, however, it’s easy to get carried away with all the compliments and also obesess over the fact that people seem to obesess over my weight loss and how I look now. It’s weird. People constantly ask how I lost weight, and people at my job even started a rumor that I had lapband surgery. It’s one thing that we as women obesess over our own weight and appearance, and entirely another when others scrutinize and pick you apart. I don’t understand Oparh’s motives.

  9. I agree with grown. She really isn’t meant to be skinny. I think she looks good as she is now, and where she was in 2005 looks a little unnatural to me, but maybe its because I’m biased with my size 14 self. Sure, she could lose a few pounds and all, but not too much. I like that she’s being honest about it. I’m sure she won’t pull a Star Jones on us.

  10. Although Oprah was more fit back in the day…that comparison shot was photoshopped to hell and back. Weight is a polarizing issue for women; caused its all based on the culture of power’s value system. Thin is in and thin is what rules.I hate to be cornerific…but a size healthy is all that should matter….GT

  11. I really feel for Oprah because this issue shows part of her human side and something that she’s not comfortable with. I don’t know what her particular vice is, but I definately understand how motivated one can be to lose wieight and how that motivation can leave once the weight is gone, and it leads to a series of ups and downs associated with weight. I wouldn’t say this is just an Oprah problem or a Black America problem, but a problem with America in general. We have our favorite foods and we have our healthy foods, and too often those two do not overlap enough for us to stay healthy over a long period of time. I disagree with the notion that just because somebody wants to lose weight or to be skinny, that they must be bowing to some white standards of beauty. I also disagree that everyone has an ideal weight, or that some people are born to be fat. I think that weight control should be a part of our normal conversations. But the problem with that is that when we talk about weight, it is too often seen as a form of insulting somebody than of pure discussion.

  12. I agree about the “natural weight threshold” concept. I’m just used to O yo-yo’ing it since I was five. I never really thought of O as fat to begin with.Oh well, she should look up her fellow Chicagoian named Jen Lancaster who wrote a book on the subject of weight loss.

  13. @Booga I really agree with what you said, but I question the concept of beauty and where it fits into this equation. As much as I love the comedian Moniqe (she has a great show in the afternoon) and her attitude towards beuty, I’m forced to compare the ins and outs of how this plays into the bigger picture. I don’t like the concept of women feeling ugly because of their weight because this can lead to issues like depression and unhealthy ways of dealing with that depression. But at the same time, I think the concept of being healthy needs to be differentiated from being beautiful. Being beautiful is much of a cultural thing and a product of which fashion line is in style and which celebrities are popular. But being healthy is more a statement of the way you live, and your chances of living longer. I feel like too often when we have discussions on weight problems comments are made about appearances which have little to nothing to do with the actual health consequences of these weight problems.

  14. @ thought: the concept of beauty plays a heavy role in this issue. I am relatively versed on the different definitions of beauty, and how they were molded.Perhaps I sacrificed my articulation in attempt to be more concise. Throughout most of my pre-teen and teenage years I was unhappy with my body because it did not fit the mainstream nor my town’s definition of beauty. I saw the beauty standards shift in that period of time, from Cindy Crawford’s so-called “curvy”, more fitness oriented look (still with slim not thick athletic thighs, and a more fundamentally “white” figure), to Kate Moss, then impossibly thin heroin chic.I was active, I was an athlete, I was healthy. But I felt ugly and/or poorly shaped regardless.Reconstructing modern Western beauty standards as well exposing myself to other beauty standards allowed me to see myself in a new light. So, I suppose that was the first “step” for me. Seeing my inner, and, here, more notably, outer beauty.This allowed me to be more accepting of myself on a surface level. After that, I was able to dig a little deeper and see how the holding beauty over the heads of women as something that should be our main objective is part of a patriarchal structure that does no justice to women. So, yes, I think that the question should be if someone is healthy, not beautiful, and that ideally, the two are interchangeable. But sometimes when traveling from point A to point C a person needs to stop and rest at point B.That’s how it worked for me. But it’s, I might note, a process. Everyday we are bombarded with messages that seek to belittle us and drive us further into the depths of consumerism (here by buying beauty products, clothing, etc.)

  15. Anonymous says:

    Being thin won’t make you happy either. I’m 5 feet tall and 105lbs. Even though I’m at the appropriate weight for my height (BMI) I’m constantly hassled by family and strangers about being too thin and “tiny”. Growing up a black woman in the south east, I was ignored by the boys because I was “boney”. Currently I live in the Midwest, and the white men really dig me. (Unlike Oprah) I’m not willing to change myself to please other people. I’m just me… short, boney and black.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Clearly, O. is not happy w/ her weight, and she is the one that matters; so, yeah, she can diet. If I had a personal chef/trainer, etc., I don’t know if I’d be fat. She does look pretty hefty to me, but, not bad, just hefty. Ofcourse, we judge everyone by these white standards we see in the magazines, so, that is why she looks hefty. The ‘ideal’ is a size 4-6, thin arms, thin thighs, like the previous poster said, flat but, etc., etc., etc.

  17. Anonymous says:

    The O is going to have gastric bypass but wants to act as if she is dieting and exercising her weight away. That’s why the need for the story. Star Jones 2.0

  18. Anonymous says:

    Obesity is the black woman’s eating disorder. According to the last health information, 77% of black women are overweight; 50% could truly be labeled obese. We are the fattest demographic. With all sorts of obesity-related diseases (diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer rates, kidney issues, strokes, etc.), we really need to get over this idea that “thick” is beautiful and call out the problem for what it is – we’re killing ourselves. While not everyone is meant to be a size 6, would it be an ordeal to put down the barbecue potato chips and kool-aid, drink water and exercise?Bourgietopia

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