The Hypocrisy of Oprah Magazine

Admission:  I like O magazine.

I sneak it into my cart when Ian isn’t looking.  I check it out at the library when he is, but under a pile of biographies.  When he discovers issues hidden under dirty laundry in the bathroom, he chides me:  Ames, if you want this, let’s just get a subscription.

But, of course, I can’t admit that I want it.  In Reformed circles, Oprah is on par with Deepak Chopra…Feministic.  Edgy.  Man-hating.  Liberal.  Touchy-feely.   Do you blame me for shying away from any association with her?

But there’s just enough that appeals to me to shun it altogether:  The emphasis on decluttering appeals to some deep part of me that struggles with a childhood spent knee-deep in ‘stuff.’  The emphasis on self-improvement appeals to those areas I’ve never been able to pray away.  The emphasis on ‘accepting yourself’ scratches a forty-something-year-old itch that started in somewhere between All we like sheep have gone astray and never hearing the words, I love you, until I was 18 and forced from them a begrudging, and most uncomfortable ‘love ya’ in response to mine at the end of a college phone call.

Sitting here with my newest issue, I realize that, no matter my semi-verboten enjoyment of O, the magazine is a sham.  Way beyond the debate about Oprah’s spiritual state (I’m exhaustified of my sorts trying to peg her into any particular theological heresy), what hits me is the O‘s in-your-face-how-can-we-not-have-seen-it hypocrisy:

Accept who you are!–(Yet, How to get better with age! Rev up your metabolism! Refresh your style! Recharge your spirit!)

Be original!–(Here, dress in this cool $895 outfit, try this new $98 skin enhancer, copy the liberated lives of these five uber-original women who have–surprise!–ditched their husbands to find fulfillment!)

Declutter!–(But first buy this Physician’s Formula lotion–Look 6 years younger in 4 weeks:  We promise!…Buy these four books actor Bill Paxton recommends, Try one or all of the ten books Oprah herself recommends!, Fill your closets with these no-fail outfits sure to get you attention in the spring!  And the ever-so essential wide-brimmed hat for only $58!  And the shampoo to eliminate that pesky dandruff!  And these neat new ceramic containers that double as a colander AND a serving dish for strawberries!  And these neat, new, green versions of the wing-tip gold shoe that no truly fashion-aware woman dare not have stuffing up her closets!

Have mercy.

I know mags are in the business of making money, and, in large part, this means selling advertising.  But to have actual articles pushing material goods right next to articles espousing the importance of giving or sacrificing or bettering the world via anti-materialism is, if nothing else, ironic.  Oprah, or whatever bobblehead is running the cash cow called O mag is living–and selling–a contradiction.  If those associated with O mean even a fraction of they claim to mean, their magazine ought to prove this.  They ought to declutter their obnoxious advertisements.  They ought to refuse to accept any ad for any beauty product, whatsoever.  They ought to get rid of any column or article promoting the seasonal necessity of this or that buckoo-bucked outfit.

If you believe what you claim you do, O mag, live–and publish–like it.  No matter how you draw me in with the occasionally-decent and authentic article, if you can’t align what you print with what you claim to believe, I’ll find a mag who does.

Ian will be ecstatic.

  • D. Manley McMahon

    Interesting and funny article. Of course, Oprah didn’t invent the format. Women’s mags have always had diet articles wedged between cake ads. Why do women love this stuff?