Wednesday, 23 January 2013
Ageism and Oprah Winfrey
Clearly, I have not been paying attention. I had thought Oprah Winfrey made a big deal a few years ago about retiring from television. I was greatly relieved then because throughout the 25 or 30 years of her TV show, Oprah spent countless hours foisting useless anti-aging remedies on her viewers.
I assumed all that was finally finished until a couple of weeks ago when I began seeing promos for Oprah. It took me awhile to figure out that she's got another network now and is doing it all over again.
I had been making notes for an update to past posts here about her decades of extolling the virtues of eternal youth at any cost but I then ran across a post I could have written word-for-word. Kavan Peterson, a friend who is the editor at geriatrician Bill Thomas's website, ChangingAging, beat me to it:
”Let’s leave aside the fact that Oprah is arguably one of the most powerful promoters of anti-aging products in the industry,” writes Kavan.
“Let’s forget about the dozens of episodes of her talk show focused on extreme and even dangerous anti-aging quackery, featuring anti-aging wingnuts like Suzanne Somers. And let’s not even mention the anti-aging guru she created, Dr. Oz.”
Took the words right out of my mouth, Kavan. He was reacting to this recent video from Oprah in which she tries to pivot toward embracing aging:
But as Kavan points out, Winfrey does not have the slightest clue that the word “still” - as in, she is STILL active and vibrant – is condescending and demeaning.
“Translation,” writes Kavan, “you need to still be able to do stuff to matter when you’re old.”
If you can't do stuff anymore, Oprah apparently does not see your or anyone else's worth.
Now that she's getting up there in years (57), Oprah may eventually make some progress in understanding growing old and with the appropriate attitude could even undo some of the damage she has done to elders promoting the likes of Somers and Oz. We will have to wait and see.
Meanwhile, Kavan pretty much nailed what I would have written so you should go read his piece.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lyn Burnstine - May Sarton: A Personal Remembrance