Oprah – Envy, Criticism & Rumors 1

Seems that a lot of people I’ve run into recently have strong opinions about Oprah.  In the space of two weeks, I had several conversations with other people about Oprah.  Only one of these conversations was initiated by me.  That was when I was at the hairdresser, reading O magazine and I commented that I found the magazine “uplifting and inspiring.”  I do.  I read it cover-to-cover every month and have found it chock-full of information that I actually use, like books to read and websites to visit.  (O mentioned shelfari.com, a website to which I’ve become slightly addicted.  It allows one to build a virtual bookshelf.  I also find it useful to keep a list of books I’m planning to read.  It’s much easier than the scraps of paper I used to have.)

The first conversation was more like an interview.  I was what I thought of Oprah by a colleague/friend.  The question was delivered a bit like an inquisition.  I had a fleeting thought that I’d better get the answer right or else.  “I, I like what she does,” I stammered.  I mean I couldn’t say that I like her because I don’t know her – only her products and her work. “Good,” the questioner said and smiled.  I passed the test.  “She’s done important work.”“Yes,” I agreed.  “Important work – she’s very generous and inspires others to give.”

The next conversation showed me that Oprah envy and bashing is a sport for some people.  One woman mentioned Oprah at least three separate times in as many days.  The comments were delivered in a throw-away fashion, as though they were meant casually but they weren’t.  A clerk at an expensive store had pushed a scent for men on her.  When the woman didn’t like it, the clerk said, “But it’s one of Oprah’s favorites.”  “So,” my friend exclaimed.  She went on to talk about how Oprah wasn’t the standard bearer of taste and just because Oprah liked something didn’t mean it was good and how tired she was of Oprah. 

A tremendous Oprah fatigue was evidenced in her remark.  But her fatigue didn’t stop her from mentioning Oprah again.  Somehow the conversation came up that Oprah was gay and Stedman was a cover.  It was said matter-of-factly with a smidge of smugness thrown in.  Also noted was the fact that Oprah’s friend, Gayle, was not the lover.

I couldn’t help but turn this idea over in my mind.  If Oprah is gay, why wouldn’t she be open about it?  If she is gay and undercover, that would truly be sad because what is sadder than not being able to acknowledge someone you love in everyday ordinary ways?  Oprah used to be so public about her relationship with Stedman, something I’ve noticed she’s toned down quite a bit. I cannot imagine her being circumspect about a new love nor can I imagine her not being caught by the paparazzi.

Finally she mentioned – at least a couple of times that Oprah was fat and struggling with her weight.  (I always find it annoying when a person who has never struggled with weight is judgmental of people who do.)  I think Oprah looks good except for the eye makeup which I have always found a bit thick to my taste. oh, oh – that was an unnecessary critical comment – even I am not immune.)

Another set of conversations had to do with Oprah’s funding of the Leadership Academy in South Africa.  The complaints were that it was too extravagant, that is should have been built here in the U.S. for Black girls who need leadership academies as well, that many more basic schools could have been opened with the same amount of money, and what about some assistance for Black boys who are suffering mightily and need a helping hand as well. 

People talk about Oprah with an intimacy that is uncanny, among her supporters, and with a dismissive criticism that is biting among her detractors.  I’m sure that Oprah doesn’t give a hoot about the detractors except to hope that they’re “living their best lives.”

Wait I minute – I’m not going to get caught up in the Oprah orb.  Although:

  • I admit that I subscribe to the magazine and enjoy it.

  • I occasionally go to the website to see the themes of upcoming shows to see if they might match stuff going on in my life.

  • I’ll confess that I tried to get one or two Oprah hook-ups and that I submitted photos of my attic to get a redo. 

  • And, yes, I have read one or two…okay more than a few books she’s recommended.

But, I’m not a groupie or anything.

Marianne Williamson whose work I discovered before I knew that she was an Oprah favorite, wrote in one of her books that “you gets more sh** for success than you will ever get for failure.”  I think that sums up the bottom line of the Oprah envy that I’ve witnessed lately.  Go on, Oprah, with yo’ bad self!


About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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