Living the O Life

At our book club meeting the other day, one of the other ladies told us she was reading Living Oprah by Robyn Okrant. The book is based on her blog by the same name, and chronicles her year-long journey living “her best life” (according to Oprah).

As we were talking, we brought up the fact that Oprah is full of contradictions. She loves to talk about how to do things “on a budget”, but then has these extravagant “favorite things” shows. Or, she’ll talk about how we should all love our bodies the way they are…but here’s 10 ways to look thinner in jeans. Even with this, some women take what she says as gospel – from how to be a spiritual person, to what books we should read, to what celebrities we should care about.

What we don’t get is how she seemingly has such power over a huge range of women…and why isn’t there a similar person that men look to for advice/information/opinions about everything and anything? Is there something about women that need a “mother figure” to tell us all how to act, what to like, and how to look? Why don’t men fall into the same “trappings”?

We really couldn’t come up with an answer. I am going to read the Living Oprah blog from the beginning though, to see if Robyn has any insights into this phenomenon. Maybe the above-mentioned book club member can shed some light as well once she finishes the book 🙂

ETA: I should add that I am not “against” Oprah in any way. I have a lot of respect for her, and what she has been able to do with her life. I think she can do a lot of good in this world because of the power she has…but because of this power, she needs to be very aware of how women see her as a life coach/guide/guru.


Comments on: "Living the O Life" (8)

  1. I used to watch Oprah regularly and really enjoyed it. But then something changed and she really started to bug me. You're right about the contradictions.


  2. There's a conversation in “The Eye of the World” by Robert Jordan … I don't have my copy with me right now but it runs something like this:

    “Ilya was giving me advice on being a woman.”

    “Advice on being a woman? That's silly. No one tells us how to be men, we just are.”

    “That's probably why you do such a bad job of it.”


  3. Becca – it's funny…sometimes I really enjoy her shows, but sometimes they do bug me. I think it depends on the topic, or if she's being too preachy (in my mind).

    Casey – LOL!! Good point 🙂


  4. I am “used” be fan. She is aware of her power and the negligence she showed with by having the anti-vaxxers, really really annoyed me. She should be very very careful about not spreading mis-information.


  5. I've never seen a single one of her shows! Shocking, I know, but I seem to get by OK without her…


  6. SM: Oh no 😦 I didn't hear about that one. Yeah…that kind of thing really bugs the crap out of me.

    Cath: What??? How can you live???!!! 😉


  7. Yay, I'm glad you're reading it too! Someone to talk about it with 🙂 I finished the book and it was totally unsatisfying. The blog is much, much better.

    Re: the anti-vaxxers, Jenny McCarthy has been on several times and Oprah has allowed her to peddle her “I treated my son's autism with a special diet” bullshit.


  8. Oops, I just reread this and realized I was supposed to elaborate! And…I'm not sure I can. This was my biggest problem with the book. Robyn never really delves too deep into these things or puts the project and conclusions into any kind of bigger context. The blog is better because she poses the questions and then they get hashed out with a community of readers, and she can follow up in subsequent posts.

    One thing she did say in the book that I liked was how her experience taught her that while all of these women are looking to Oprah for a “one-size-fits-all” solution to all of their problems, they will never truly be satisfied because there is no such solution. Oprah is no more of a “real” or “normal” woman than anyone else because how can we define what that actually is? An example she gives is that Oprah doesn't have kids, but women who do are just much “real women” as those who don't. Robyn explains it in a much more eloquent way but I think that is a really good insight and a worthwhile lesson for many women to learn – to stop measuring themsleves against other women and holding themselves to impossible standards.


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