Wednesday, January 7, 2009
The Long Awaited Oprah Discussion
When Oprah gave her big confessional it was everything I thought it would be. A dramatic narration that didn't come anywhere near breaking the surface of her actual issues. I don't care if Oprah reveals those publicly or not but I do think giving a cavalier gloss over and saying she needs to "love" herself more, as she schedules herself an evening manicure, is a bit simplified and not necessarily helpful to the millions of viewers who tune in for actual help and guidance.
I was watching this episode with my mother which was interesting since she and O have a fair amount in common in this department. There have been many times when my mother has stopped working on her weight and claimed "I just want to be healthy I don't care how much I weigh". Well that's really nice and kumbaya of you but it's also a lie. I think some people might actually fall into that category but I doubt a single emotional eater does. If you are an emotional eater your weight is a reflection of unprocessed feelings. There is no possible way for you to be *happy* and *healthy* and significantly overweight for your body. The very fact that Oprah is still battling her weight means she is at a minimum emotionally & psychologically unhealthy. So I'm not buying it... physical health is only half of the battle. If Oprah had said "I just want to be happy and whatever weight that is is fine" that would have been one thing and I would have stood behind that message whole heartedly.
Like my mom, I believe Oprah has an internalized negative self image (probably from her early sexual abuse) that tells her she isn't worthy of having it all. It is this internalized view that keeps her from being able to maintain a healthy weight. It isn't because Oprah wasn't valuing her physical body enough (as she claimed) or making enough time for herself. Those are just symptoms of the internal voice that is working hard to keep her from succeeding in every area of her life. It doesn't matter if you are my mom, or the one of the world's most famous women, it doesn't matter how successful you are in every other part of your life, if you feel badly about yourself you cannot be completely happy. Loving your toenails isn't the same as loving the inside part that is truly broken. And I left the episode feeling like Oprah just didn't get it. She needs to schedule a therapy appointment not a manicure.
We've all got some issue...I haven't met someone yet with a perfectly healthy confident self esteem. Self sabotage is rampant. It's one thing to lose weight it is another to keep it off. It isn't that the process of dieting became harder it's because your inner voice, the part you had to overcome, comes out of hiding. It's always there in the background but when you are losing weight (and really getting the ball rolling) you have so many successes it's easy to mute out the message or believe you have finally proven it wrong. Once you're at maintence level the loss stops and you have to keep going without all the weekly slaps on the back. That's when the voice gets louder. Just one temptation makes sense... you've earned it... look how well you've done (that's the voice talking). And then you're on the path of self loathing one more time.
But it isn't all futile. I really like how Bob Greene kept saying "you never figure it out". That's just it. You're never cured. You have to always work to identify that negative internalization and figure out for yourself why it is there. Knowing doesn't make it go away though. It just makes it easier to tune out. It makes it so that when you give in to temptation you can acknowledge that you are doing it, not because you deserve the reward, but because you are giving into a self sabotage. And that knowledge starts to give you strength to reach for the real reward... and that is loving yourself (manicure or not).