Is Oprah’s Weight Struggle The Secret To Her Success?

In case you live in a cave and have somehow avoided seeing images of Oprah recently, she’s put on some weight in the last couple of years: 40 pounds to be exact. In the January issue of O Magazine, out on newsstands today, Oprah opens up about her continued weight struggle in what’s become her signature way: like she’s confessing her sins — or at least her deepest vulnerabilities — to her closest confidante. “I’m embarrassed,” she writes. “I can’t believe that after all these years, all the things I know how to do, I’m still talking about my weight. I look at my thinner self and think, `How did I let this happen again?”‘
In her essay, Oprah says she’s gained 40 pounds since 2006 when she weighed 160. “Yes, you’re adding correctly; that means the dreaded 2-0-0,” she writes. She also discusses how her recent thyroid problem made her develop a “fear of working out,” and that the stress and frustration also pushed her to seek comfort in some of her favorite “no-no” foods, a behavioral trait that continues to make Oprah so relatable even in light of her enormous empire and fortune.

In fact, could her continued weight struggle be the secret to Oprah’s success? When everything else about her life — the many mansions, famous friends, numerous awards and her seemingly unstoppable power — is so super-sized, so utterly unrelatable, is the fact that she still struggles in a very obvious way with her weight the one thing that keeps her human and makes it okay to trust her like a real friend? If everything about Oprah seemed perfect, would her audience still find her as endearing and trustworthy?

Not only does Oprah’s weight struggle provide a very necessary link to her fans and their concerns, it lends almost infinite material for her shows and publications. In 1988, Oprah famously donned a pair of size 10 Calvin Klein jeans and wheeled a wagon of fat onto the set of her show to represent the 67 pounds she lost on a liquid protein diet. “I had literally starved myself for four months — not a morsel of food,” she recalled in 2005. “Two hours after that show, I started eating to celebrate — of course, within two days those jeans no longer fit!” In the 20 years since then, Oprah’s weight has yo-yoed more times that Britney’s mental stability, giving her plenty of opportunities to introduce nutritionists, exercise gurus, and medical doctors to her show as she vowed time and again to lose the weight and get healthy for good.

This time is no different. Oprah’s following her own winning pattern by confessing to a rock-bottom moment (most recently, when she had Tina Turner and Cher on the show and felt like a “fat cow” next to them), followed by a series of shows on getting healthy. The first week of January she’ll feature personal trainer and exercise guru Bob Greene and Dr. Mehmet Oz on her show, along with spirituality experts, sex therapists and financial expert Suze Orman. She’ll also talk about her weight on BFF’s Gayle King’s XM satellite radio show on Jan. 5 and will host interactive live Web casts at the week of Jan. 12 to 16 every night.

Oprah admits she’s fallen off the wagon, but in so many ways, she’s never left the wagon; the wagon’s just on a different side of the cycle, the same cycle that’s helped make Oprah the mega-success she is today. [AP]