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.

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  • http://yahoo Retha Miller

    Reminds me of Woman’s Day Magazine they have A Big headline on how to lose weight and then and huge good looking dessert on the bottom corner. Crazy. I don’t need or want anybody to tell me what to wear or buy,or how to be kind and giving of my time. I’m a big girl,thanks.

  • Suzi K

    Made me laugh…I, too, love O magazine. However, I can’t remember the last time I bought one. I can’t place my finger on any ONE thing that turned me off to Oprah, (I used love watching her show at 4PM every day) but I do my best to not support anything that is “Oprah” related.

  • Sunny

    Never was an Oprah fan mainly because she promoted “victimhood” while trying to help women escape it. Now I just see her as another “do as I say and not as I do” expert who has made money – lots and lots of money – off of the people/women who have claimed her to be their god while she manipulates them into whatever mindset or product or philosophy or political party she fancies.

  • Amy Henry

    Interesting you mention victimhood, Sunny. I know several of several Oprah groupies who are card-carrying ‘victims.’ One of her other big messages–empowerment–backfires when in the hands of a victim. No longer are they responsible, they can simply point the finger with their newly acquired ‘power’ and the victim mentality continues.

  • Amy Henry

    I hear ya on that…there’s definitely a lure because some of the articles and stories are well-written and insightful. Perhaps it comes down to filtering the good from the not so good. Sometimes I’m up for it, sometimes I’m not.

  • blackbird

    You have a point there Amy, and I wonder how many more women also see the hypocrisy. Thanks for the good read.

  • Lisa

    I find it interesting that it is easy for me to remind my children how important it is to guard their hearts and spirit and yet so difficult for me to give up things that distract me from guarding mine. I need to be just as diligent as I teach them to be!

    I’ve missed many a good Oprah guest in the past 5 years but honestly I can’t support her or what she stands for. She is just like so much of Hollywood that seems to be okay in the beginning and then subtly changes to where one day you can’t believe what you are watching or hearing and supporting.

  • Amy Henry

    Ooh, a good challenge, Retha. And gets me thinking on a deeper level about these sorts of mags in general. What is the underlying motivation for buying/reading them? I don’t know of any men’s mags that are so prescriptive. But, then, I’m not a man and don’t read men’s mags;) Seems to me to go back to the side-checking thing women are so proficient at. Why do we doubt ourselves to the point we are looking for others to tell us that how we are, what we wear, what we buy, is okay? Chewing on that one…

  • Laurie

    Great article! I totally agree. I used to really like Oprah, but I think she has lost who she really is, and where she came from. She used to talk about Sunday school, and the people there that changed her life. I don’t like where she has strayed to, and all the people that she influences.

  • Amanda Frances

    She worships the same God as you. She is inspired by many belief systems that have been inspired by God. 

    Why do we have to peg people in spiritual holes? 

    It’s silliness. 

  • wholemama

    Does she, Amanda?  Not sure I agree.  Regardless, the thrust of this article isn’t about her spirituality, but about the inconsistencies of O mag.  Her faith is between her and God.