Are You Listening, Oprah?

Oprah Sharing Her Gifts750

“Everyone is different: different shapes, sizes, colors, beliefs, personalities, and you have to celebrate those differences.” – Kelly Clarkson

Over the years, I have learned so much from Oprah Winfrey. I felt a kinship with her from the day she began her show in Chicago in 1986. She was so real. Plus, she was a woman of size (like me). She was someone who was approachable, not above me. I could relate to her love of books, spiritual matters and the desire to be thin. I shared her anguish about not being a size six. I went on every diet she did. It was hard not to notice Oprah’s weight yo-yo during the reign of her talk show. If she wasn’t pointing out her failures, the media was.

After the Oprah Winfrey Show ended in 2011, whether she was fat or thin went under the radar. Without being on T.V. Monday through Friday, it was hard to know what shape Oprah was in, which was fine with me. I had been doing some serious soul searching about my size. I needed a break from constantly monitoring my eating and exercising. It was robbing me of the joy of living in the now. It didn’t do any good long term anyway. I wondered if I was fighting nature? Could I have been born this way?

Last December, I watched a once again curvy Oprah being interviewed by Barbara Walters on her “Ten Most Fascinating People of 2014” special. Oprah may not be at her “best self” weight, but she is as beautiful as ever in my eyes. Barbara asked her to complete this sentence, “Before I leave this earth I will not be satisfied until I…”

Oprah responded with, “Until I make peace with the whole weight thing.”

Barbara sounded shocked when she said, “What? That’s still on your mind? I was expecting something deeply profound.” Oprah assured her that yes, she had to make peace with the “ whole weight thing.”

What petite Ms. Walters didn’t understand was Oprah’s wish is deeply profound.  As a woman who has struggled to be thin her whole life, it would be such a gift to me if she accepted herself. Maybe Oprah and I, along with countless others aren’t meant to be a size six. What if we are fine the way we are? Maybe the bodies our souls inhabit aren’t what the culture has deemed desirable, but does that make them wrong?

Today, at 59, I have still not won the war with fat and am waking up to the notion that maybe this is who I am. There is more and more scientific evidence that says being fat doesn’t necessarily mean one is unhealthy. Maybe the media and the fashion police are wrong. After all there was a time in our country’s history when people were made to feel less than because of the color of their skin. Looking at nature I see that there are all different shapes and sizes in the animal world. Could human beings be made the same way?

“If you are who you were meant to be, you will set the world ablaze.” – St. Catherine of Siena

Oprah’s continual references to her issue with her weight has only helped to make her a target by mean spirited people. The distress she feels adds fuel to the shame women carry about their bodies. Think about celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg. I find it interesting that the press never remarks about her size. I have a pretty good idea why. Whoopi knows she has it going on. She knows her light shines from the inside out so it’s a waste of time to try to mold herself into a standard dictated by fools. Because her body isn’t an issue with her it’s not an issue with anyone else. I think it is time for women to embrace their bodies. I don’t want to waste another minute rejecting what I was born into. My body is a temple, and the same goes for you, Oprah Winfrey. What would the world do without you? You have a big purpose and your soul lives in the perfect house to manifest it. If you accept yourself, just as you are, you will give permission to womankind to do the same. That would be a gift passed down from generation to generation. And what do your sisters think about your body inching above your “goal weight”? It’s the better to hug us with, my dear.

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Text and images © Sue Shanahan. All rights reserved.

18 thoughts on “Are You Listening, Oprah?

  1. What a great post. I too am a “woman of size” and want to be seen for my inner beauty, not “societal” beauty. I am still shocked by how judgmental people are about so many things. Have a wonderful day celebrating differences!


  2. I must agree that weight and body image is always on the top of my radar – even now at 35 weeks pregnant. I realize I should b happy to “show off” my growing belly, but there’s that little voice in my head that every time I look in the mirror makes me *think* I look fat.

    Maybe I feel this way after losing weight through weight watchers. It’s a journey that almost every woman goes through at some point in their life and the media certainly does not help MY image of what I should look like.


    • I think what “we should look like” is a program downloaded in most women. It’s a shame you question the adorableness of your baby bump. In my book there is nothing more beautiful than a pregnant woman. 🙂


    • You look as cute-as-can-be Colleen. I think it’s time we take back what has been downloaded into our brains about how we should look and replace it with the truth. We are beautiful just the way we are. xo


  3. Sweet Sue: This is such a beautiful message and a reminder that each one of us is special. May all of us embrace our physical and inner beauty and believe in our uniqueness and be grateful for who we are.
    ~Sue Leopold


  4. Dear Sue, Thank you for your inspirational words and for the beautiful painting of Oprah. I especially loved the quotation by St. Catherine of Siena. Also…I did not comment on your past two posts, but I want to tell you that I greatly admire how you bravely shared your thoughts on topics that are controversial. I am touched by your honesty and your kind heart. Blessings, Lois


    • Thank you, Lois. I appreciate your support more than you know. It is scary revealing my soul but life is zipping by. I don’t want to get to the end of my allotted time with any regrets. I believe we are on earth to share the gift of who we are. xo


  5. I hear truth in what you say, Sue, and your post is beautifully written as always. I agree that a larger-framed woman is going to weigh more than a smaller-framed woman and that we’re not all meant to be a size 6. I also think my body is a temple.

    If my body is a temple, I think I should take care of it. I struggle but keep trying to exercise and eat healthy. I don’t care what the fashion police say, but I do care what the health professionals say. That is why I try to maintain my goal weight.

    I, too, think Oprah is beautiful and has a big purpose. She serves as a role model for me and many by being a woman who uses her talents to better the world.


    • Thanks for your insight, Susan. I know you work hard to maintain your goal weight (I read your blog.) I am in on the struggle but have had different results.I know one thing for certain. Being hard on myself for being heavy is not good for my health. I am hopeful that the studies I have read about it being possible to be healthy at a larger size bears true for me. xo


  6. Hi Sue,
    I grinned away as I read your post. I’ve struggled with weight issues almost all my life, but more so in the past 5 years – nothing I did seemed to work as they did before. I held on to my old clothes, hoping I’d shed some “un-necessaries”, and fit right back in, but that didn’t happen.
    This year, I finally accepted that (sigh) the fat was probably here to stay. I decided to gradually get myself a new wardrobe as my old clothes weren’t buttoning all that well. I began to feel better wearing clothes I was comfortable in. And it sure felt good not having to hold your breath all the time just to keep the tummy fat in! I guess I want to be happy. Old clothes can motivate you to keep your weight down; but they can also shackle you.


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