Thursday, April 10, 2014

Living la Vida Oprah, part 1 by Margaret Ullrich

The snow is finally melting.
Does it feel like Spring?
No, not really.

About two weeks ago I borrowed Robyn Okrant’s book Living Oprah from the library.
It’s about Robyn’s one year experiment in following everything Oprah said to do.
Robyn wasn’t exactly unique in taking advice from Oprah.
In 2007 USA Today ranked Oprah as the most influential woman of the past 25 years.
In 2010, Life magazine named her one of the 100 people who changed the world.

I’m impressed, but, to be honest, I just never really got into Oprah.
Nothing personal, I was busy with other things when she started her rise to fame.

Robyn did this project in 2008, at the age of 35.
In 2008 I was 58, old enough to have been Robyn’s mother.
Okay… maybe I should’ve read the inside notes before I borrowed the book.
I don’t know for sure, but I think there’s a generation issue here.

Oprah was born on January 29, 1954, while I was born on May 1, 1950.
Don’t bother doing the math… I have a few years on Oprah, too.
Oprah’s a few months older than my kid sister.
Do you always ask a younger sibling for advice on what to do?


In my teens I'd read Ingenue, a teen's version of O, The Oprah Magazine.
It came complete with stories, advice, and quizzes, as well as dating, clothing and make up hints - everything a teen needed.
Then there was CosmoLadies’ Home Journal, McCall, Women’s Day and Family Circle.
I also watched the Phil Donahue Show, the first tabloid talk show.
So I’ve had my fair share of letting other people tell me what to do.

About Phil… he was born in 1935, so he is older than I am.
So maybe that helped make him seem like an authority figure to me.
He didn’t have the same technology or social network backup in those days.
Oprah has The Oprah Winfrey Show, O, The Oprah Magazine, and Oprah.com.
Oh, well, I guess that's progress.

Like I said, before picking up Robyn’s book I had just read O in the library.
I usually like some of the articles in her magazine.
I just skim through the advice and pretty much ignore the clothes and ads.
I mean, Oprah’s choice in fashions is for a crowd a bit younger than I am.
Well, that’s not any different from what I’ve seen in other magazines.
And the ‘must have’ products she likes to suggest?  
Pul-eese… I just got through tossing out a bunch of junk.


Anyway, back to Robyn Okrant’s project…
January 2008 started with Robyn serving pureed spinach hidden in blueberry bars, Robyn being ordered to get her clothes tailored, and a plug for Dr. Christiane Northrup’s book Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom.
Big news: a grown woman has to be her own health advocate.
Really? THAT’S what she calls advice?  Wait’ll she hears what seniors have to do.

Robyn also wrote about how she’d had a long history with The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Oprah had been telling Robyn and her Mom how to live for a few years.
Robyn lives in Chicago, where, in 1983, Winfrey started to become OPRAH.
As Robyn explained, "Sometimes you can feel her influence pulsating in the city…"

I’ve noticed there are a few potholes and bumps in Oprahland… 
How does one mesh being told to savour the simple life with the order to buy some ‘must have’ new super expensive products and clothing each and every day?

Oprah and fitness expert Bob Greene were about to start their 2008 Best Life Challenge, starting with the fat folks in Meridian, in the American state of Mississippi.
Thanks to computers, everybody else could sign the Best Life contract, too.

I don’t have much faith in this project.
If Oprah, with her wealth, personal trainer, fitness expert, chef, dietician and stylist can’t permanently drop the pounds, how will a welfare Mom who has no staff, is a whole lot busier and is struggling on a much tighter budget manage?

Oprah also has a Book of the Month club.
In January she endorsed author and spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle and his book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose.
Robyn wasn’t too thrilled with the choice or the 10-week webinar on the book.
Neither am I.

The chicken recipe sounded like a good one.

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