Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Real Woman?



Though I used to be a pretty big Oprah fan, I'm not anymore. I don't watch her show, I don't buy her magazine, I pretty much avoid her at all costs. While she used to a be a woman's woman, the girlfriend we all wanted to have, a rags-to-riches story we weren't even jealous of. (ok, maybe just a little.) But lately Ms. O has gotten just a bit, to use an old family expression, too big for her britches. (no pun intended, truly). Her magazine advertises items no "average" woman can afford, same with the "favorites" she touts on her big giveway shows. Though I admire her for the charitable work she's done and consider her a smart, ambitious woman, that's where the admiration stops.

So, yesterday I was flipping channels, looking for something to watch while I plowed through the mountain of laundry to be folded. There was Drew Barrymore on Oprah. Huh. I like Drew ok, and there was nothing else on, so I paused. Drew was telling us all about her volunteer work in Africa, helping to feed hungry children. Cool. I put down the remote and settled in. Good topic, might learn something and perhaps be able to help in my own small way. After a few minutes, though, the conversation switched to Drew's upcoming projects and before I knew it there were two women abandoning their serious, admirable charity work discussion only to become absolutely giddy & weepy, gushing over their Vogue magazine covers! Before my very eyes these two powerful, intelligent women turned into shallow giggly school girls. The conversation went something like this:

Drew: It's every little girl's dream to be on the cover of Vogue"
Oprah: "It's some kind of validation that you're a real woman."
Drew: "It is. Especially if you're someone who is so utterly yourself."


HUH? First off, as much as I appreciate beauty and fashion and have occasionally been known to purchase an issue of Vogue here and there, my life's dream has never been to don the cover of said magazine, or any other for that matter. While I put as much time into my appearance as any teenager I spent more time honing my writing skills in hopes of becoming a journalist and protesting the baby seal hunt in Canada! Frankly, I'd be appalled if any of my daughters made looking pretty their top goal in life behind, say, working on their brains and spirits! Each of my girls has been approached about modeling, as a matter of fact, and I wouldn't permit it. I'm terrified of the eating disorders, of the pressure to be thinner, prettier, never good enough. Shudder. (By the way, as much as I love pin-ups, I do so for the very curvy-ness of them; you'll never see me put up a pic of Kate Moss on this blog.)

Secondly, wasn't it Oprah who did that whole expose in her magazine about how much work goes into her making her look cover-ready, showing her bare skin & body to show us how "normal" she looks sans make-up? What happened to that, Oprah?

Frankly, I'm furious with the whole "women's magazine" industry. Between the photoshopping and airbrushing to make already-gorgeous women fit up to some ridiculous standard of perfection and the never-ending articles on diet & other "self-improvement," I am just sick to death of it. A few years ago I boycotted such magazines because I was tired of paying to feel worse about myself, felt that my money could be better spent on those publications which helped me to grow as a strong, healthy woman both in body & spirit. Frankly, I'd rather read Playboy because at least it's a well-known fact that the centerfolds aren't "real," we all know that a ton of touch-up is done between photo shoot and magazine rack. But who would think that good ol' trusty Redbook would do the same thing?! I'm frustrated and angry and am not going to give them any more of my hard-earned cash.

Anybody with me?

18 comments:

silverneurotic said...

I never read those magazines...for exactly the same reasons as you stated...I don't want to look at something "fake" and I certainly don't need a magazine telling me the stuff that I must buy and wear if I want to meld into a particular mold. Even when I was a teenager I have always done my own thing, and I've never felt the need to wear a certain style or go on the latest fad diet just because everyone else is. I wear what I am comfortable wearing and I eat how I want.

Karla (Grace) said...

I agree totally! I have been irritated by Oprah's "big britches" lately too. While I'm glad that she's turned me onto Dr. Oz, I'm also a little tired of always having to strive to have a "better" life, according to Oprah's terms. And all of those giveaways might be grand, but I guarantee those aren't coming out of her pocket, they are free advertisement for the companies who make the products. Those cars she gave away? Not paid for by her. So did she really give them away? Hmmm. I thought life was about being authentic.

I have stopped reading the women's magazines as well. And what's amazing is how much my positive body image has skyrocketed since leaving them behind! I don't mind my curves, don't care if I have stretchmarks that only my husband will see anyway, and don't mind at all that my tummy is soft and comfie instead of a six-pack hard.

I'm with Silverneurotic. I have finally reached the point where I wear for comfort and eat just how I want to. I do visit the gym and am trying to eat healthfully, but I'm not obsessed by any means!

Thanks for taking on the O! You're right on target.

Karla (Grace) said...

I forgot to add, that having a husband who is a graphic designer has taught me just what can be done with a photo! What's disturbing is how often people know it's airbrushed and PhotoShopped and yet still try to live up to that image.

BritGal' Sarah said...

I'm with you and won't be renewing my O subscription. Her picks of the month are so out of reach of the average woman it's unreal! I also think she's starting to get a little big for her boots (as us Brit's say!).

The only thing I really like on the show is when Dr Oz comes on, as he talks alot of sense. I also think O went too far going on tour with Obama!

Teacats said...

If that is the cover where she was doing a photo spread for her movie "Beloved" -- I seem to remember that the officials from Vogue "insisted" that she had to lose at 30-40 pounds before she could wear the designated designer outfits for the shoot! AND I remember that she always says that her covers are truly "brushed" before they hit the news-stand. So she is far from that"real" image in that Vogue cover!! I do read women's mags -- mostly for the home design articles (my serious addiction) Yes! I do like some of the fashions BUT certainly not the ever-changing need for the latest "thing" Would I like a self-portrait? Yes -- but in oils with myself curled up in a chair by the fire with a book, a glass of wine and a cat or two by my side.

Jan at Rosemary Cottage

Aisling said...

I so don't read Fashion Mags and haven't since I was a teenager. My daughters also prefer to develop a sense of personal style, rather than following fads. And I believe that folowing a healthy lifestyle, being with people you love, and pursuing your passions (art, music, culture, whatever!) is the best beautifier out there. I'll continue to admire Oprah for her chartible contributions, which are significant, but do not look to her as a guru of how I should live my life.

Good rant, Rapunzel! *grin*

Rapunzel said...

Silver, good for you! That self-confidence is a wonderful thing and so rare nowadays!

Rapunzel said...

Karla, excellent points! She's introduced me to some cool stuff/people and I credit her for that but the other hype is just not worth it, you know?

Rapunzel said...

Sarah, love that expression! And, yeah, I hate when stars start making those big political stands..yikes!

Rapunzel said...

Aisling, you are a wonderful example of living an authentic life, your own way! I admire you so much for that. :-) Thank you for the input!

Rapunzel said...

teacats, yep, I read something about that as well - she had to get down to 150 pounds or something?

You know, I still subscribe to magazines - love Family Circle & Woman's Day for their recipes and crafts, Victoria for *everything*, grin, also enjoy Real Simple and Health. None of those make me feel "less than" when I'm done reading them. I keep remembering the expression: garbage in, garbage out. Time is so precious, why waste it on things that don't inspire us and make us feel fabulous about ourselves?

Susan said...

Hey, M ~

Great rant indeed - I do admire Oprah for many reasons (one of which is her book club, which has inspired many to start or rediscover the pleasure of reading)... but you know I'm not one for the women's magazines (preferring Dirty Linen, The Sun and Ms.!).

In fact, one of our NOW projects, which I still continue, is to go to the magazine racks in any store and take the *free* (and loose) subscription card from inside - I then write on the postcard something along the lines of "your magazine promotes unhealthy images of women and I've chosen not to buy it anymore"... and then mail it back (at their expense, since the postage is due on their end... :-)

Jen said...

I'm not so much into Oprah or her minions either.

I think being a "real woman" would be along the lines of being happy, fulfilled and making a significant contribution to society's needs, and even maybe being taken seriously as a person rather than simply as a woman. So yeah, lets turn ourselves over to being sex objects on vogue as our major self definition, and we can contribute to society in our free time if we have any. *eyeroll*

kim said...

Maybe that is why she is so into that book now. I hear it's about "taming" the ego?

The only fashion magazine I read it Figure, for me, it helps to see Full Figured Women, in fashion spreads.

Rapunzel said...

Susan, what a wonderful project! You know, when Oprah's magazine first came out I loved it despite the high-end advertising. It's changed over the years, though, as has she. :-(

Rapunzel said...

Jen, absolutely! I will never make the cover of a magazine but I am every bit a *real* woman, all the lovable yet imperfect parts of me!

Rapunzel said...

Kim, I'll have to look for that magazine next time I'm in the bookstore. Is it the one that's sold at Lane Bryant?

CEDhelp said...

It's no wonder women have negative body perceptions with the media sending out a distorted view of perfection. I think its great that everybody here recognizes the media is sending out such a distorted view of "perfection" I especially like Susan's idea with the NOW project. To keep the message going on positive body images, check out this post the Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt's thoughts on a Faith Hill's airbrushed magazine cover