Opinion

Oprah's trying to control my life

If Oprah had any inkling of how completely her efforts to better my life have failed, she would quit trying.

During her TV show’s successful 25-year run, I watched as many episodes as my responsibilities permitted, until she engaged ‘experts’ like Dr. Phil. Gradually I tired of his know-it-all advice for moms, and cures for every form of marital or social dysfunction, to the point where sometimes I accurately predicted what he’d recommend to correct the situation.

Since she began her O Magazine some 12 years ago, I’ve been a subscriber, sharing each issue with my daughter and granddaughters to make better use of the magazine’s high cost. I don’t know which articles they look forward to. I skim past fashions with $380 coats, $90 blouses and knee-high $600 boots with stilt heels; wines (off limits for anyone on blood thinners, and breathes there a senior who isn’t on warfarin?); and recipes for party fare or flare.

I favour Suze Orman’s financial advice, Martha Beck’s lively pieces on personal relations, and essays by or feature articles about women who have overcome hardships or survived health threats. They stand out as individuals whose life stories have much to teach as they entertain.

Yet issue after issue Oprah’s enthusiasm for improving my life never wavers. Take her May 2011 article, “O’s Guide to Aging Beautifully.” I long ago accepted my fading youthfulness – so long as I am able to safely care for myself; indulge pastimes such as playing piano and walking my dogs; and don’t drool in public, I can overlook my Sharpei forehead wrinkles.

Keeping my weight in check has been a lifelong battle, as it was for Oprah until she pitched her pilates mat three years ago and loosened her corset strings. But has that deterred Oprah or her editorial team? They never even hiccuped. In January 2011, her index listed “Weight Loss Made Simple: The Only Tip You’ll Ever Need.” Like any dieter, I hoped for an effortless tip. What she doled out was old, tried and true advice – get moving.

When she wasn’t advising me on body image or health, she was tackling my home.

Throughout 2010, she tried to wear down my defences with one article after another. Her first try, in June, was “De-Clutter Your Life,” perhaps thinking that too much ‘stuff’ was impeding my transformation. While she still had me off balance from that onslaught, in the same issue she followed up with “The Secret of Happiness.” Regularly every three months or so, she prints another decluttering article, perhaps for a different room.

In September 2010, she offered me choices, “106 Inspiring Ways to Change Things Up.” Obviously she didn’t realize I avoid heights. One attempt to judge the weather looking through my kitchen window would have made that clear. Only a ladder reaches to the top of my window. I no longer do ladders.

Her October 2011 issue outlined “Nine Ways to Change Old Patterns and Spark New Breakthroughs.” Did it move me? Can’t say it did.

June 2012 her magazine dug deeper with “Seven Steps to Creating the Life You Really Want.” That article has one major flaw: I must first contemplate what it is I really want. Now I’m no monk. I rarely contemplate and if I do, it’s usually to weigh the likely steps to accomplish a task beyond my trained capabilities.

Though I’ve long since ceased selecting magazines with articles to improve my looks, behaviour, relationships, or housekeeping skills, I’ll continue subscribing to O Magazine, one of the few geared for my age bracket since More folded. Oprah, I’m sure, will be back with more self-help suggestions.

 

 

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