I was sitting in the dentist chair Thursday — a captive audience so to speak — and coincidentally the TV was tuned to The Oprah Show. To my utter astonishment, the episode I watched could almost be construed as a twisted, celebrity-obsessed attempt at a pro-aging message for women.
A re-run from September, the episode “Aging Beauty” was a sort of bizarre parade of aging celebrity sex symbols — Cybill Shepherd, Dynasty‘s Linda Evans and Desperate Housewives‘ Teri Hatcher — cathartically confessing their obsession with youth and beauty and difficulty coping with the perceived loss of both. Hatcher revealed *gasp* that it takes a lot of make-up to get her camera ready these days. The show toyed with the idea that beauty was something more than youth and smooth skin. Oprah even lamented the epidemic of self-loathing and anguish many older woman suffer from. (Perhaps I missed it during my oral exam, but I don’t think Oprah went so far as to acknowledge her larger-than-life role in fueling that epidemic.)
Did this come close to making up for years of Oprah’s rampant anti-aging, get-young-quick quackery-pimping, age-denying, culture defining war against old age? No. But this was an Oprah I’d never seen and only dreamed could exist. An Oprah nearly acknowledging that she, and her predominantly female baby-boomer audience, are inevitably aging, graying, sagging and wrinkling, notwithstanding the miracles of science and beauty technology at her disposal.
Full disclosure: a) I don’t have a TV so I can’t say how out-of-the-ordinary this episode was. A search of the term “aging” on Oprah.com indicates this is a recent departure from the usual anti-aging quackery (see Newsweek for extreme examples); b) I’m a man, not particularly old or vanity-free, so therefore patently unqualified to offer opinions on middle-aged women’s body image issues; and c) ChangingAging.org is not exactly neutral on this topic (see Bill’s Oprah Challenge).
What do ChangingAging readers think? Is the Oprah pro-aging conversion underway? Are there any regular Oprah-watchers out there who can tell us if the show’s anti-aging bent is softening?
Watch a promo here of Aging Beautiful.