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Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Ageism and Oprah Winfrey

category_bug_ageism.gif 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


Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Good stuff from both of you.

Yes, I dearly would love to have a chin again, but I'll put the money toward a new hip. I'll be having fun until the hip by attending a couple of conventions in a motorized scooter. At Comic Con, I will be the Steampunk housekeeper with a feather duster on one hip and a pistol on the other....ya gotta watch out for those amorous footmen, you know.

I quit watching Oprah many many years ago. Her yo-yo dieting drove me crazy. I wish I had a dollar for every pound she has lost and put back on. (I am crabby today.)

Years ago black people said that they rarely saw anyone who ‘looked like them’ in magazines, TV or movies. I recently read an O magazine, crammed with ads for anti-aging products and no one looked like me, an average older person.

I lost interest in anything regarding Oprah decades ago.
With all her money and fame she somehow comes across, to me at least, as an unfullfilled individual...how sad...
As for Dr. Oz...what a jokester! (but I'm not laughing)

Oprah is certainly a successful promoter, but getting there comes at a cost,which sometimes looks like selling out on some things. Despite her influence and clout, she doesn't appear to have developed true wisdom and insight, despite her greatly advanced age (rolling my eyes) of 57 years. Or maybe it's just too hard to buck a culture that supports you so well.

I rarely watched Oprah. It seemed, far too often, that she was using her popularity to promote/publicize/feature questionable people and products. The breaking point for me was Dr. Phil. When she "discovered" him, as I recall, he was an unknown psychologist in Texas under investigation for some sort of professional shenanigans. But look at him now. She brought all sorts of health quacks, cures, and remedies on her show, apparently with no concern for the welfare of fans who blindly followed her advice. Highly irresponsible. She's done a lot of good with her fame and fortune, but her judgment about health and medical advice has been abysmal.

Great fame and wealth have insulated Oprah. But there's an underlying truth to her statements. Remaining engaged is important for older people, and individual personality is probably a far greater determinant of that happening than economic status, or physical health. A self-centered bore of 80 was likely a self-centered bore at 30.

I'm inclined to see Oprah as Lauren does in the previous post. The reason I gave up on her years ago is because she came across as an "expert" in just about everything. She had the right answer for everyone. Much like many of the men I've known over the years.:)Dee

In the NYTimes today, Gail Collins references a viral-video subway encounter between an average older woman and rapper Jay Z by calling the woman, who might be 60 or so, "an adorable little old lady." I hope Gail isn't looking for a trope to replace Seamus the Romney dog!

I've never really understood the Oprah phenomenon - it seems I haven't missed anything important. You spoke to my heart when you spoke of the condescension in the ability "still" to be active and useful. Some days, I can only sit and be, others are better........ but always I know I can come back to your blog and read sense and fun and life. Thank you Ronni. Every Blessing

As if most of don't want to be as useful as we can!

A revealing quote from a NY Times article: Ms. Winfrey wants that audience for the magazine, but she wants its readers to be younger. The median age for an O reader is 49, according to data tracked by the audience measurement company GfK MRI. (By comparison, Vogue’s median is 35.6 and Real Simple’s is 46.3.) Ms. Winfrey said she would like to attract women “in their 30s or perhaps their 20s, to be able to reach people when they are looking to fulfill their destiny.” She added, “By the time you’re 40, 42, you should have kind of figured it out already.” http://nyti.ms/S8GfSv

Ronni:
"By the time you're 40, 42, you should have kind of figured it out already."

Really?

I'm still working on it at 72. Maybe she can clear it up for me.

Ronni,

She's 59 yrs Old
according to my calculation...She was a year behind me at East Nashville High School, 1970.

Oprah...Still aging after all these years....:)

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