Oprah started binge eating after ‘Beloved’ lost to ‘Bride of Chucky’ at box office

Vogue has a new profile and interview with Oprah Winfrey. While they seem to have some begrudging respect for her business acumen, incredible empire and ability to connect to people, begrudging is the operative word. I think I’m definitely influenced by the photos they sent us, above, one of which features Oprah with her eyes closed and her face scrunched up, as if they’re making fun of her inwardly focused nature. (Kaiser described it as looking like Oprah is taking a sh-t. She always comes up with the best analogies.) Plus Vogue’s PR people didn’t even send us the pull quotes, it’s like they’re not even trying.

The interview was conducted by the same journalist who did Oprah’s cover profile, back in 1998, Jonathan Van Meter. Remember that? Editor Anna Wintour admitted that she suggested Oprah lose weight for that cover, so she went on a crash diet, as Oprah does, and lost 20 pounds. They posed her like a model with her smaller arms up around her head to show she was now worthy. There’s a whiff of that in this interview, but Oprah is Oprah and she’s the boss of everything while making you want to hug her and spill your guts. If you just read what she says you’re shaking your head yes and finding life wisdom. Oprah is immune. Here’s some of what she told Vogue:

She got depressed and ate after Beloved didn’t do well at the box office
I shall never forget Saturday morning, October 17. I got a call from someone at the studio, and they said, ‘It’s over. You got beat by Chucky.’ And I said, ‘Who’s Chucky? What do you mean it’s over? It’s just Saturday morning!’ I knew nothing about box-office projections or weekend openings. It was ten o’clock in the morning, and I said to Art, ‘I would like macaroni and cheese for breakfast.’ And soooo began my long plunge into food and depression and suppressing all my feelings…

I actually started to think, Maybe I really am depressed. Because it’s more than ‘I feel bad about this.’ I felt like I was behind a veil. I felt like what many people had described over the years on my show, and I could never imagine it. What’s depression? Why don’t you just pick yourself up? [She was depressed for six weeks] That’s when the gratitude practice became really strong for me, because it’s hard to remain sad if you’re focused on what you have instead of what you don’t have…

It taught me to never again—never again, ever—put all of your hopes, expectations, eggs in the basket of box office. Do the work as an offering, and then whatever happens, happens.

You have to be ok with not topping your own success
I started reading this incredible article about Michael Jackson, and one of Jackson’s friends was quoted as saying, ‘His number-one problem is that he never realized that Thriller was a phenomenon. And he spent the rest of his life trying to chase it… I didn’t want to be the person chasing a phenomenon. And that is what the Oprah show was. All the right elements came together at the right time. That won’t happen again. People would ask me, ‘Who will be the next Oprah?’ And the answer is: ‘There won’t be.’ ”

On how her grand plans for OWN fell through
I thought I was going to bring this spiritual consciousness–awakening channel! And I soon learned: Ain’t nobody care about that… Oh, my God. America is not ready to be awakened in that way! So what I learned is, you got to give them—what did I call ’em?—snackables! You need snackable spirituality—snackable, digestible moments in an entertaining format, so people can receive it.

On what would have happened if she married Stedman
We would not have stayed together, because marriage requires a different way of being in this world. His interpretation of what it means to be a husband and what it would mean for me to be a wife would have been pretty traditional, and I would not have been able to fit into that.

[From Vogue]

Oprah starred in Beloved with Danny Glover and she didn’t do another movie until The Butler in 2013. You know when Oprah’s Vogue cover was? It was the October, 1998 issue. Beloved and Chucky came out on the same weekend, starting October 16, 1998. Because Oprah lost all that weight for Vogue extremely quickly, likely just a few weeks prior, she must have felt deprived and that led to her bingeing. She has food addiction issues and then she suffered a disappointment so she ate. She’s found a way to manage that now and make bank with Weight Watchers, the most sensible of the for-profit weight loss programs. It’s worth noting that not once did she plug Weight Watchers in this interview though. If she did they left that out. Oprah is one of the richest and she’s successful, but she’s not full of herself and she knows she doesn’t have to hit a home run every time. She also knows she doesn’t have to wallow when she’s not number one. Somehow it’s reassuring to hear Oprah admit to the same insecurities and issues that affect all of us. That’s her thing and it never felt like a shtick. Oprah next stars in Ava Duvernay’s A Wrinkle in Time, which is out next March. I have the feeling that movie is going to kill it at the box office and even if it doesn’t, Oprah is going to counting her points and will stay on track.


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40 Responses to “Oprah started binge eating after ‘Beloved’ lost to ‘Bride of Chucky’ at box office”

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  1. Megan says:

    Oprah is such a role model.

  2. perplexed says:

    Snackable spirituality? That sounds a little odd.

    The rest of the interview sounded fine though. Not that she needs my seal of approval or anything.

    • Felicia says:

      That makes perfect sense to me. They tend to feed up the news the same way.
      Easily digestible sound bites with no real nutritional value.

      • perplexed says:

        Yeah, but it sounded strange when she said people NEED snackable spirituality. Maybe her definition of spirituality is different from mine though. There might not be a consensus on what spirituality actually is.

      • Felicia says:

        I’d take that into context of what her target market was. The US public has been formatted to “headlines” followed by a 2 minute blurb and unfortunately it’s all slanted and telling you how to think. Taking a stab in the dark here, since Oprah is a very American phenomena and I’ve never actually seen her the show she had because I don’t live in the US:

        Her definition of “spirituality” is perhaps closer to an Asian view. Buddhist or Tao. Accepting who you are and loving yourself, moving ahead to be a better person. Not judging yourself constantly. Wellness. Meditation. Being part of the human race and not whatever skin colour race you’ve been pigeon-holed into. And all of that requires work, it requires looking at things differently when you’ve been “programmed” to think in certain ways. It requires thinking about what you’re hearing and accepting that the way you think is maybe not the only way to look at things and being able to assimulate that.

        The US political scene has been playing the religion card for a couple of decades now. The reason that the founders of the US and those who wrote the Constitution of dozens of other countries in the world that specifically separate religion from the State is because throughout history, religion has been used as a political power base. And politicians, when they talk, give “quick fix” sound bites that will “solve your problems” with no effort on your part. Religion when used for political purposes, is the same. The problem is never “us”, it’s “them”. Her defintion, if it turns more towards the concept of individual responsibility that is present in some of the Asian religions, is not consistent with an “us or them” mentality.

        My 2 cents and I could be totally off base because I know Oprah by name only and have never watched her. From the few things I’ve read about her, she seems to approach life with a degree of thoughtfulness.

    • Jaded says:

      Many people have been so inured to wanting nothing more than a quick, simple-to-digest version of anything – spiritualism, religion, politics, whatever – that actually doing some research and knowledge expansion is like trying to get a gnat to read War and Peace. It’s comic book learning. Oprah delves into things with all her heart and brain so the concept of “snackable spirituality” is foreign to her – it’s like she enjoys the 7 course meal instead of a package of crackers and cheese from 7-11.

  3. IlsaLund says:

    It’s sad that she was told to lose weight for a magazine cover and she complied with the request. It’s not surprising, just sad.

  4. nicegirl says:

    I loved A Wrinkle In Time as a child and am usually reticent to see movies made from my beloved childhood books – I am looking forward to seeing this one. Go Ava & Oprah!

    • Cate says:

      I’m excited about this one and kind of dreading it at the same time, just b/c Disney is doing it. I know it’s not necessarily set in a specific time period, but the book does have a sort of low-budget 1960s feel to me (in a good way) and I don’t trust Disney to capture that properly. Oprah looks awesome in the photos I’ve seen, but also way more glam and high-end than I think is really “right” for one of the Mrs. W characters. Also, the actor they have playing Calvin just looks kind of wrong and a little too young and fragile for the part. I read all the books in that series and I had a definite Calvin crush, so I’m going to be pissed if his character isn’t done right! Of course, I also thought Chris Pine was way to young to be playing the dad of TEENAGERS, so maybe I’m just getting old myself…

  5. Jenns says:

    [She was depressed for six weeks]

    Am I the only one reading this line as total shade?

    • PunkyMomma says:

      Nope. I wish my depression only lasted for six weeks.

      And I’m finding Oprah increasingly tiresome; I’m feeling Oprah fatigue.

      • GingerCrunch says:

        She needs to finally get herself into some intensive therapy and take it effing seriously. Sorry for the rant, but today’s a pretty bad one for me and I’m exhausted by this same. old. story. But then again, there’s money to be made! Guess I’m just feeling misanthropic (my new word Sixer taught me).

      • yyu says:

        She is beyond tiresome.

        Everything about her is some Earth shattering moment/instance that we are all so fortunate to witness. Has a direct phone line to higher beings. I have never seen anyone else who is so self-delusional and so very self-important.

        I think it still stems from her boundless insecurities. No matter what she does, she never feels whole. It is ok to feel that way b/c most of us do or did, but she capitalizes on it by lying about it. So insincere.

    • WTW says:

      I don’t think it’s shade. She suffered from situational depression, which most people do during unfortunate circumstances.
      That said, I still don’t understand how she thought a film adaptation of Beloved, a difficult and nonlinear novel about slavery, would send audiences to the box office in droves. I don’t think it should have ever been made into a movie, or at the very least it should have been made into an art house film with the expectation that the masses would never see it. Oprah was deluding herself and the people around her were helping by making her think the nation was ready/able to deal with this content.
      I have to read Beloved again for a project I’m working on related to its 25th anniversary, and I’m not looking forward to it because it’s not at all an easy read–technically or emotionally.

      • Melanie says:

        I with you. After dealing with bs in life who wants to go see a slavery film for entertainment.

    • WTW says:

      I don’t think it’s shade. She suffered from situational depression, which most people do during unfortunate circumstances.
      That said, I still don’t understand how she thought a film adaptation of Beloved, a difficult and nonlinear novel about slavery, would send audiences to the box office in droves. I don’t think it should have ever been made into a movie, or at the very least it should have been made into an art house film with the expectation that the masses would never see it. Oprah was deluding herself and the people around her were helping by making her think the nation was ready/able to deal with this content.
      I have to read Beloved again for a project I’m working on related to its 25th anniversary, and I’m not looking forward to it because it’s not at all an easy read–technically or emotionally.

  6. BlueSky says:

    I saw Beloved when it came out. First, it was waay too long. Secondly, it had like three endings. We kept getting up thinking the movie was over, only to sit back down after the scene came back on. She tried to cram too much into the movie was the problem

    • Petra says:

      The movie was too long and boring.

    • Veronica says:

      I suspect some of it was also the content. A lot of people see movies as a fun escape from reality. A movie about a former slave haunted by her decision to kill her daughter rather than subject her to a continued life of slavery is heavy shit. Not something most people want to sit through on a Saturday, and, well, let’s face, not something Americans like to think about in the first place. It’s a very powerful story, but it’s a painful and difficult read that forces you to reflect on the ugliness inherent to American history.

    • Aang says:

      I think Oprah is a very talented actress, among many talents. I don’t think Beloved the movie did the book justice. I think it’s an impossible book to capture on film.

  7. marc kile says:

    I hear ya Oprah, when Deuce Bigalow Male Gigolo didn’t win the Oscar for best picture
    it was nothing but twinkies and suicide watch for a month for me. So I feel your pain.
    (Minus the mountain of money you sleep on )

    • JEM says:

      You’re a jerk.

    • Veronica says:

      Disappointment over the failure of a passion project aimed at promoting one of the most revered novels of the 20th century, by one of the greatest writers of our time, representing a historically underrepresented group (black women) is not at all comparable to the typical studio moping over underperforming garbage. Her money has given her a lot of privilege (money that she earned, mind you – she’s a rare case in Hollywood that didn’t grow up privileged), but it hasn’t spared her from sexism and racism and abuse. Don’t be that person making an unequal comparison about a project that likely had a lot of personal meaning for her and other black women.

  8. Svea says:

    Well then she must be really overeating with everything going on nowadays. I certainly am.

  9. crazydaisy says:

    I think in that top picture she looks like she’s getting something good. Maybe there’s a bidet in that toilet, Kaiser.

  10. B n A fn says:

    I like oprah but she has to come to terms that she’s just a “big bone” woman, that’s what’s it’s called in some African American homes. There is always an excuse for her gaining weight. I remember one day decades ago she came on her show with a cart pulling “fat” saying this how much fat she lost in her diet. I believe she was a size 8-10, looked fabulous. She said that same night she went home and went off her diet. She has the best 👨‍🍳 chefs, best diets and the money 💰 to buy the best foods. The problem is hiderity, you can’t fight it. All she has to do is love ❤️ herself, keep up with her drs appointments, cut the salt, fat and fried foods and live a happy life. And that will be $1,000 Ms Oprah.

    • Tata says:

      I agree with you. This book I read, secrets from the eating lab – the myth of willpower, basically says the we all have some certain range of weight our body likes to be in, and she looks at experiments where people try to go below that range, and how much it screws their body and mind up. highly recommend it.

      So yeah, oprah needs to live a happy life, accept you ain’t gonna be size 6.

    • Wilma says:

      Yes, it always saddens me that she’s has accomplished so much, but has such a hard time accepting her body as it is. You give sound advice.

  11. yyu says:

    1- Horrible photo – she looks constipated. Hardly a beauty shot.

    2- She was extremely heavy way before that, she is again manipulating and making things appear as if she is not the one fully responsible for her own shortcomings. She does that often.

    3- Still takes herself way too seriously. It is becoming laughable.

  12. bap says:

    She is always gaining and losing weight. Question is this her PR game when nobody is interesting in her any longer?

  13. adastraperaspera says:

    I am still disappointed that she didn’t win Best Supporting Actress for The Color Purple. And the way that whole movie was shut out at the Academy Awards. I love that book and movie.

    • Wilma says:

      Yes, I don’t get it either. When people had a hard time remembering who directed it a couple of months ago? Ugh. That movie is everything and taught me so much about life. Those characters were so real and well acted.

  14. Sara says:

    I met Oprah many times when she was working at WSM in Nashville supported by Dan Miller, who basically steered her career. She was totally self-involved and preoccupied by weight and appearance back then. It was sad. She had everything going for her, but she kept talking about how bad she felt because she couldn’t lose weight. She was such a gorgeous, talented, obviously exceptional young person just hitting her stride and destined for big things. Everything was on her side, but she was totally obsessed by her weight. Oprah needs to stop this crap about her weight, get serious help and lose the damn weight. She’s been obsessed by it for more than forty years. It is a fetish for her and an attention-getting trick.

  15. KiddVicious says:

    Why don’t people hold her accountable for Dr. Oz, or Dr. Phil? Or giving anti-vaxxers such a large platform with Jenny McCarthy? She is the reason Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil have their own shows to spout their pseudo-science whilst getting wealthy off gullible people. She’s a powerful person, she needs to use that power for good.

    • Jamieee says:

      I feel like a lot of people who admire her never really watched her show besides the occasional decent segment that got some outside attention?

      She peddled so much snake oil. At least one episode a week pushed a bunch of pseudo-science BS really hard. She promoted really dangerous diets. She gave a huge platform to a ton of awful people with incredibly damaging messages. She engaged in a lot of fear mongering. She tried to sell people a ton of stupid, insanely expensive crap no one needs. She (very poorly) appropriated cultures and religions for her ‘snack spirituality’ spots. There was also a real streak of misogyny and judgment hiding behind her ‘support’ of women. You very much had to be the right kind of woman.

      She was basically GOOP for the solidly middle class.

  16. A says:

    I dunno. I have mixed feelings about her. I think on the one hand she’s more honest about disordered eating than most other people are. Especially wrt how it manifests in the whole “healthy eating” crowd and how that is often just another method for people to be unhealthily hyperconscious of what they eat. I like that she talks about her relationship with food, because it mirrors how the women in my family and I have looked at food in our lives as well.

    But. Every time she talks about it, just when I think that she’s going to finally let go of her anxieties related to food, she just comes back to the same diet nonsense time and again. She never seems to go all the way. Her anxieties still have a hold over her. She’s aware of them now, more so than she ever was before, but still. It’s so frustrating to see someone cycle back to the same type of thing again and again and again. I know it’s her own journey, and it is what it is, and I’m not saying I’m any more enlightened wrt my anxiety either. But. It’s just hard. And frustrating to see someone say, “Oh this is how I felt about food, BUT this is why I’m going to continue doing what is basically the same thing as calorie counting, just under a different name.”

    A hyperfixation on food, whether it’s under the guise of “healthy eating” or binge eating, or not eating because of an ED, is not good. It speaks to something bigger that’s under the surface, a bigger anxiety, and it took me a long time to understand that. It seems like Oprah’s getting there. Maybe she’ll get there the whole way someday.

  17. raincoaster says:

    Nobody can take a whole network of spirituality. It can’t be endured. It’s like reading Iyanla: you read a chapter, go WHOA, put it down and digest it for a few days before you can go back to it. Look at O magazine: it has spirituality, yes, but it also has fashion, books, inspiration, and plain fun.

  18. hey-ya says:

    …thats a wonderful photo of Oprah…her face & what shes doing with her hands…& the setting is lovely too…