Oprah is trying to change her tune on aging but she’s a day late and an apology short. In a much-touted video on Huffington Post Oprah extols the “blessings” of aging, but if you listen and look carefully her monologue is laced with anti-aging bias.
She ends the video saying “we live in a youth-obsessed culture that is constantly trying to tell us that if we’re not young and we’re not glowing and we’re not hot, we don’t matter. I refuse to let a system or a culture or a distorted view of reality tell me that I don’t matter.”
I couldn’t agree more with the sentiment. The problem is, Oprah’s actions couldn’t agree less.
Let’s leave aside the fact that Oprah is arguably one of the most powerful promoters of anti-aging products in the industry. Let’s forget about the dozens of episodes of her talk show focused on extreme and even dangerous anti-aging quackery, featuring anti-aging wingnuts like Suzanne Somers. And let’s not even mention the anti-aging guru she created, Dr. Oz.
Instead, take a look at the video.
It opens flashing covers of O Magazine as examples of her dedication to providing women with important information about aging. But if you pause the video you can read headlines such as “O’s Guide to Aging Beautifully”, “The Youth Pill” and “Age Brilliantly”.
What’s that again Oprah? It’s okay if you’re not “young” and “hot”? You still matter, right? Oh, I get it — you can still matter, just so long as you read O to learn Oprah’s secrets for old women to stay young, beautiful and brilliant!
Next, Oprah explains how growing old is such a blessing. Such a blessing, that when she thinks about getting old it reminds her that it’s better than… being dead. But not just better than being dead — that’s pretty obvious — it’s better than being “an angel of 9/11”. Yep, growing old is so great it’s better than dying a horrific death in a burning inferno, or jumping to your death to escape said inferno, or… well, you get the picture.
Finally, she points to the many celebrities she admires, despite their age. Such as Maya Angelou, “who is still doing speaking tours” (emphasis mine) and Quincey Jones and Sidney Poitier who are still so busy creating new projects and just “epitomizing” what Oprah wants to be like if she’s fortunate to get that old.
Translation — you need to still be able to do stuff to matter when you’re old.
Perhaps I’m being too hard on Oprah. I never doubted that one day she would notice that she is growing old, and she would notice that all the kings horses and all the crackpot anti-aging treatments in the world were not going to put her youth back together again. I never doubted that one day, she would begin extolling the virtues of aging and growth.
I guess I just thought she might also have the wisdom to apologize for all the damage she’s already done.
Better late than never, Oprah.