Dear Oprah

redhatOprah I just need a minute of your time to talk about your magazine, which I do enjoy reading except for a couple of small problems. Just a couple really, you being the publisher and one of the richest most influential women in the world could fix this with a smile and a snap of your well-manicured fingers. I wish you would think about the message you send, I do. So let me tell you what is on my mind, what is bugging me this lovely Sunday morning as I sit with my coffee and your magazine. I would bet if you knew you would think this might be relevant. Of course, then again you might think to yourself, “Really, I am Oprah Winfrey and my magazine makes millions without the advice of some barely read blogger from Texas, pfftt”.

Here is the problem Oprah, you don’t mind I am so familiar do you?

Never mind, Tom Cruise jumps on your sofa so certainly you don’t mind if I call you Oprah as if we know each other; back to the problem. In the first hundred (100) pages of the October magazine, every advertisement but one, nothing but skinny bitches not one single woman looks like me, or for that matter like you. Sorry for that but you and I both know most American women have a bit of meat on their boney asses. I will bet you a mani-pedi your entire editorial staff knows most of us do not look like that. For that matter, those women in those pictures, hell they don’t look like that. Really though, Oprah I simply expect more and better from you, don’t you remember when tent dresses were the only style you wore and elastic was your best friend? You are still wearing clothing in the double digits, so why doesn’t your magazine reflect the real American woman?

Just sayin.

Not her heaviest, but not her lightest either

Not her heaviest, but not her lightest either

Now on to my other issue, I think this one is even more of a problem. I know you are wealthy and what you have done is fabulous. Your accomplishments in life, as well as, your philanthropy are to be lauded and emulated. I don’t want you to take this the wrong way; honestly though, I think your magazine has lost sight of your readership, the economy and how we live. What do I mean by this; let me show you by just picking at a couple of your articles this month.

Adam’s Style Sheet, Page 92 this month was Top Coats. Nice selection and pairing, unfortunately not a single thing would fit a woman over size 14, some likely don’t even go that high (Readership loss). Then we have some interesting additions to the feature such as; Coach and Zac Posen Bags, Jean-Michael Cazabat and Zac Posen Shoes. The list could go on, I will stop here the real issue being the Economy, how many of your readership has hundreds of dollars to spend do you think? Yet, your stylist creates these looks, which are impossible to emulate on the cheap. Well why not? Perhaps the point is to simply make others feel inadequate? If that isn’t the point then something should change, maybe how to create these styles with the incomes real women have at their disposal.

So let us flip back to page 150, Strut your Stuff. Wonderfully laid out by the way, I simply loved every single boot in this article; of course, since you only style for the skinny bitch audience, those wonderful $850 Tony Burch boots wouldn’t fit my larger calves but nonetheless still loved looking. Back to my point, there must be a small (5%) audience who will see these marvelous outfits and will not read beyond where to buy, won’t care the wallet busting prices. Remember though, Readership and the Economy, most will; in fact, ninety-five percent (95%) of your readership will weep when they see those prices. Let me give you just a few of my favorites;

Page 153 – absolutely love the green bootie! Total price for the outfit, $1,205, this includes only the items priced on the page not everything.

I might need these

I might need these

Page 154 – those boots, I might have to starve my dearly beloved for a week or two for those boots. Total price for this one, $1,433. Fortunately for me the only thing that would fit are the boots, $450.

Remember what I said, Readership and Economy? Not a single one of the eleven (11) outfits presented in this layout was within the range of your average reader. Not a single one of these was even feasible to emulate from the places most of us usually find ourselves shopping. Come on Oprah; remember most of us left size 0 behind us when we were twelve years old, if we were even that then. Most of us don’t shop Tony Burch or L.A.M.B. as much as we might wish just once we could. Most of us don’t have a spare $1,500 for a single outfit for lunch with our BFF or date night with our version of Stedman.

Oprah, could you please cut us a break here? I have nothing against skinny bitches, truly I don’t. Nevertheless, I surely would like to think at least you have nothing against the rest of us.

To all my thin and healthy friends and readers, no offense was meant by Kickm reference to ‘skinny bitches’ and you have my sincere apology if you were offended, truly. The truth is I wish I was one of you so I could wear all the fabulous clothing I salivate over in Oprah and Vogue. This was written somewhat tongue in cheek but also in part to address what is lacking in all media today, women who look like me and like the average American woman.

Comments

  1. AirportsMadeSimple says:

    Hi,, Val! Ok, where to begin? Truth-telling time here. I’m so glad you said what I’d been thinking for the last couple of years. Other than the tangible signs of a smaller issue with more ads, it seemed the “meat” of the Magazine has been slipping.

    I think this is something she plans to phase out over the next few years–like her show. Or, change the format to match her current more “inner peace” format. The “things we love” section has bothered me for years. So…we’re in a recession, and I’m supposed to spend $400 on cupcakes? Seriously? Not gonna happen.

    I get the “dream” part. I LOVE magazines of all kinds. But I’ve been a faithful reader of each and every Oprah Magazine since it’s inception. Seriously, I collect them like books. Not sure what that says about me, but…

    About two years I got really ill and gained some weight. I had NO IDEA how hard it was to shop for clothes that don’t make you look like (I) a tent (ii) a 95 year old going on a cruise (who cares at that point? I’d just be happy to be alive) (iii) a KIND salesperson (iv) styles that are made for NORMAL people and not super-thin people (we DO have jobs, you know!)–well, I could go on.

    So here are my top stories of shopping for clothes at a size 14-16 in today’s world – I’m about 5’6″. I had a gift card for Neiman Marcus (are you already cringing??!), so I browsed around for 30 minutes, and not ONE salesperson walked my way. No one. They all looked RIGHT AT ME, and didn’t bother to say hi. When I finally had the nerve to ask a question about a particularly lovely silk blouse, the sales lady’s response was…wait for it…”I’m not sure this brand would fit you or that we have YOUR size (eye roll inserted here).” Not kidding. Didn’t buy anything, of course.

    Next story: Macy’s – went to the store to buy work clothes and accessories. Was told (again, when someone FINALLY waited on me), “Dearie, this brand runs small, and the biggest size I have is an XL.” ARE you F***ING kidding me??!!!!!!!!!!!! Really? And people think this is ok? She was dressed like a nun from the 1800s, so my instinct was to say: “Oh, I see. So maybe since you dress like a nun from the 1800s, you might consider buying some of the clothes in this store if you’re going to out-do your sales quota this month.” RIGHT!!!

    Back to Oprah: I think the advertisers and team are running the show, she pens the one small note at the back, and everything else is done by the staff. Her network is her #1 priority right now, and I Think that’s turned out to be a lot of work, so the magazine is suffering. Instinctually, I think the staff is just churning out the magazine to keep sales at a normal pace, and at some point there will be a big announcement that “It’s time! It’s run its course! Thank you everyone for your support, but Hasta La Vista.”

    About the clothes issues in the magazine, I notice that sometimes they do say the clothes go into the “larger” sizes, but they are never on a model and they are NEVER in stores, anyway. I have to try things on. Not that I can afford them…! 🙂

    • Oh, dear me. Neiman Marcus, I am a Texan remember. I shop there frequently for gifts and still can’t resist their outlet store now and then for shoes and purses, but you think your story is bad? Let me tell you mine.

      I had gone into their flagship store one day to shop for a wedding gift. Unfortunately, I had stepped into their clothing section and a twit actually walked up to me and said, “We do not carry your size in our stores, if you wish to shop Neiman you must do so on-line only.” She looked me up and down and sniffed, yes actually sniffed. If I was more sensitive I might have cried, instead I burst out laughing and responded, “Bitch, I could buy and sell you on the open market, I have had a NM card since I was 16 without a limit, please get your manager.”

      I proceeded to ream her manager, the store manager and then wrote a letter.

      You are right about the magazine and some stores. It is annoying. I am often insulted. I wear a womans 18, I am not okay with it but it is simply the way it is.

      😉

  2. What truth you speak. Seems skinny sells. If only they knew of that plus size money well.

  3. I buy the mag every once in a blue moon. It has changed but I’m sure it was calculated and that it is all about the Benjamins. Those new advertisers will pay big bucks to Oprah to lure readers like you and me to spend money we don’t have on things we can’t wear to go places we can’t afford so that we live our dreams that the Mad Men have sold us. You and I won’t fall for it but there are plenty who will. Maybe Oprah will read your blog and it will be her “Aha” moment. 🙂

    • The Benjamins drive everything, so sad. That lure is thrown out by her smiling face on the cover along with big bold screaming excitment, “How to find Peace this Month”. I tell you who doesn’t want peace, this month or any month. If I had billions, I would not have a problem finding peace, would you?

      Oprah created an audience, now she stomps them into the ground. Sad really. Perhaps someone will point her to this one, maybe she will have an “Aha” moment. Somehow though my friend, I doubt it.

  4. Great read and write, Val! So glad I FINALLY had a chance to eat my lunch and read my favorite blogs today! Been so busy, busy and work….Anyhooo, I don’t read Oprah’s magazine anymore for the exact reasons you expressed….too much has gone upscale for me, where-as before, her list of favorite things were at least somewhat in reach. The upscale clothing and accessories only leads to the upscale of everything else, which for me (and most of us) is discouraging and self-defeating….not needed on this side of the street! Love ya! XOXO-Kasey

    • Thank you Kasey, I love the dreams some magazines sell. I buy Architectual Digest and worship at that alter every single month. I love Vogue, I know I shouldn’t but I do anyway. Those magazines, I know what I am getting, I agree to the fantasy and sit at my kitchen table drooling over all the beautiful things I will never have but can happily dream about.

      Then there are the magazines that built their readership on a different model, Oprah is one of those. This is the reason for my little rant. I don’t mind now and then showing me the $450 pair of boots, but show me the version in my price range. I don’t mind you showing me the model in size 0 jeans, but tell me where to shop in my size and price range. The fact is, her audience is someone who shops at Target, Kohls and Lane Bryant. It really yanks my chain she has forgotten this.

  5. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    Excellent, Valentine. Really well said – don’t mind the familiarity either.

    I haven’t got a copy so I don’t know what’s in it, though I did buy it once, just once. Wasn’t hooked.

    Possibly Oprah has left it too much in other people’s hands and this has got away from her original ideals all by itself. I take a size 14 top and it drives me nuts the number of times I see lovely fabric, styles, but … alas, not for me.

    • Truly I use to read it quite often, something has gone a different direction not though. Perhaps you are right, others are guiding the ship. It would be nice to think this but alas, I suspect it is more, she is as others have said, all about the money and never mind the audience that put her where she is.

  6. I agree, come on Oprah let’s see some of those deliciously sweet curves that show what a woman should look like, not a stereotyped model that is ridiculously overused these days. I have no problem with slim women either but a more rounded figure adds beauty to any magazine so there you have it. More curvy ladies please 😉 🙂

    I like this one a lot Val 🙂

    Andro xxxx

  7. Oprah’s all about them Benjamins. I can’t rightly blame her.

    Though, just so you know, Oprah looooves skinny folk. Very few of her favorite folk are on the thick n’ chunky side. I don’t know if you ever noticed that. She has skinny clothes in her closet still but Beatrice could tell you all about that.

    • She would have to be, wouldn’t she Totsy? About the Benjamins that is, she didn’t become the wealthiest woman in America if not the world without staying focused. Loving skinny folks though, now that is sorta sad, you know? I never had noticed that, but I will pay some more attention. What I won’t do though, is give her any more of my Benjamins since she doesn’t seem to want to show women who look like me, or show clothing in my price range.

      Perhaps you could slip Ms. B a question, what do those skinny clothes do?

  8. Thank you Val, for reminding me why I don’t waste my money on such trash.

    But you know what, the men’s magazines are no better – every one showcases a macho beefcake who cooks, cleans, does the laundry, brings home a millions bucks and changes diapers – yeah, right. Oh yes, let’s not forget the marathons every night.

    Yup, not going to part with my hard earned money.

    Whew! Feel better – LOL 🙂
    Eric

    • Yes, and yes again. Would that any of us could live up to any of the unrealistic expectations laid before us. Or better, that we could be happy we are just who we are and our families and loved ones are safe, healthy and happy.

      Perhaps that is best.

  9. This just isn’t an Oprah magazine issue. I don’t read very many magazines, though, the ones I do flip through all have the same issue — they’re geared toward people with certain types of build, and certain sized bank balances.

    This is really sad, because I remember once upon a time, that one could look through magazines, see something, and know that you could get it in your size (which, ok, I’ll accept the blame for outgrowing standard sizes), and, more importantly, knowing you could afford to buy it.

    Even the magazines that once were geared towards a less affluent crowd seem to have given up on us …. my mom used to get BH&G, and, had for years. I usually flipped through it, to see what people did with a small kitchen, or a weird shaped room. One day, it seemed as though all of a sudden, the magazine wasn’t about making the best of what you had, it was about people redesigning their summer home, or their beach house — and, not on the cheap. They called in a decorator to help.

    There’s one magazine I read cover to cover — Vegetarian Times, and, even there, if I bought all the things they suggest, my house would be mortgaged to the hilt.

    It’s not so much that I mind seeing expensive and nice things. It’s more that it takes the enjoyment factor out of perusing a magazine when you know that nothing in it is everr going to make its way into your home.

    • You are right John, most are not geared towards the norm. Whether we accept ‘blame’ for growing out of standard sizes or not, in womens sizes what you see is size 0 and no one is that size normally.

      There are Home Design magazines I love and I understand before I ever open them I will never be able to afford what is between their covers. I still love them, the difference is I know what to expect and thus am not disappointed.

      This time though, I don’t know why I was simply set sideways.

  10. Val, you hit the nail on the head. I’ve pretty much have stopped reading women’s magazines because of this. I’d rather read blogs like yours because they’re so real and relatable. Anyway, I hope she gets the message!

    • Thanks Monica, it would be nice if someone at Oprah read this and a light went on. I am not going to hold my breath though. I am with you, I would far rather stick with reading the blogs (like yours) and if I want to read glossy pages I will buy Vogue in the future at least I know what to expect and won’t be disappointed.

  11. My wife certainly agrees with you. I suppose these kind magazines sell dreams rather than realities and we all like to dream about things we wish we could have don’t we? Not much difference to Hollywood and the dreams it markets there either. However if Tom Cruise thinks his lifestyle is selling something I want he’s going to be jumping his foolish head off without results. lol

    • I think Ian, that is the problem. There was a time when there were magazines that sold dreams and you knew it, then there were magazines that spoke to the rest of us and we were grateful they existed. Oprah use to be one of the later, that is how this magazine got so big, got on the shelves and stayed there, it was the everywoman style. Sure there was the dream but there was also the more.

  12. Val, Val, Val! Next you’re going to tell me that the recipes I make out ofMartha Stewart’s magazine aren’t going to look like the pictures.

    • Maybe. You know you need the proper lighting, to make your food look as good as the stuff in magazines, you do know that right?

      It doesn’t matter though I am certain yours tastes just as good, if not better.

  13. Hear, hear. I’d say post a link to this blog on the Oprah magazine forum (she must have one right?) That would be the best way to get them to notice you!

  14. AMEN, Val! I rarely read Oprah’s magazine, but you’d think the magazine would reflect what are supposed to be her values–unless I’m mistaken as to what she values. Maybe that’s your point–especially the part of about the skinny bitches and the clothes none of could ever afford! Thank you for this. Hope you mailed this letter!

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

    • I use to be a dedicated reader, funny I rarely watched her show but loved the magazine. I agree, there is an expectation her magazine would reflect the values we think she represents. The funny thing is, she has a media image that has been finely honed and then she has Oprah the savey business woman, she didn’t become the Wealthiest Women in America by ignoring business. So, perhaps this is simply the reflection of business taking precedence over our expectations of her as a person.

      Hugs back at ya!!

  15. I only look at the cover of O magazine when I check out at my local HEB. Oprah has lost touch with reality for women of any size!!!!!! I don’t even open the magazine. Great post, Val!

    • I like the magazine now and then there truly are some good articles, for whatever reason though today simply set me off. You said it best there is a sense of her having lost touch. I suspect though she remains the publisher she doesn’t truly read the content.

  16. I wonder if she actually reads her own magazine to even see the Ads of if the marketing figures are the only ones that interest her, as for the fashion items here most magazines are moving towards showing the designer version for lotto winners plus a high street look a like for mere mortals like us

    • It is a good question Paula. I think it wouldn’t bother me so much to see all the really high-end stuff if there was something for the everyday woman as well. Show me how the 5% shops but how to copy those looks, or where to shop for those looks on a budget. I don’t mind the regular advertisements, but really why only high end stores and women who look like they never eat? Why clothing and designers that do not fit women size 12 and above?

      Let me add one more thing, since her audience is not the 18-30 year old, why focus on clothing for them?

      • am guessing her marketing people foolishly believe they have more money to spend and they are the target audience they want for the magazine, here in the uk most magazines seem to be aiming themselves towards early twenties if they are going for a fashion angle then if you are older you obviously want to read ‘true life’ stories about how someone husband ran off with their sister. So many of the magazines today are an insult to the trees that were cut down to produce them to be honest

        • Insult to the trees indeed this is the truth. I will buy People (blech) if I want to read those ‘true life’ stories. Shockingly there is fashion out there for women over 40, women who have meat on their bones, women who don’t spend $500USD on a single clothing item. What is depressing, no magazine panders to us to real women with real lives and real challenges. No magazine wants to put the effort into features like, “How to get that look for under $100”, not as a sidebar but the entire feature.

  17. Clearly, the media continues to persist in bombarding us with their image of the ideal woman (skinny bitches). And to achieve that ideal image, a woman must have lots of expendable cash (and then we wonder why some women chose to marry for money). Because it’s an idealized image, it isn’t surprising that most all women likely to fall short of.the image of the ideal woman. What is the long-term impact of these images on the the collective conscience of women? Not very positive I suspect. Great post Val! As usual you are spot on in your observation and your summation of problem is witty and an enjoyable read.

    • Fall short? They fall off the cliff and land squarely in ego smashed on the rocks below. It is interesting to me though, when a figure of Oprah’s stature who could do so much to help move the dial instead chooses to do the same thing. Her audience is the not the <40 crowd with money to burn, that isn't who made her the wealthiest woman in America. That isn't who accepted her no matter her size, who loved her fat or thin. So one has to wonder, why is she doing the same thing every other magazine for women does. I think this is why it just set my head on fire.

  18. Leave it to you, Val, to address this problem. Someone should drop a link to this on her website.

    I don’t read magazines, never have–can’t say why–that’s just how it’s been. Great subject. This one should get the wires humming. 🙂

    • Does she have a website? Oh, I guess she would, do you think it would be too very vain of me to do that? I will need to give this some consideration. Great idea.

      Thanks Tess.

      • Yes, she does have one and no I don’t think it’s vain. From the commenters, it’s obvious others expect more from her and would like it better if she went back to the way she started the magazine.

        I’ll wait to see what you decide. It think it will be exciting. What will they do to you? 🙂

        I was thinking a link to your post in the Contact Us tab…

  19. I am a fan of the person that is Oprah, for many reasons–some obvious, others not so much– but I am none too wedded to any celebrity to not be objective and agree with you on this one. I subscribed to O Magazine years ago, but I too, have noticed that the recent copies have been advertisement-rich and heavy-laden with too many thin models and consumer-driven “experts” weighing in on where to spend their next dollar, no matter the cost. I would love to contribute some real material/articles to O and a few select magazines one day, and help restore some of the more cerebral and inspirational content to what it was during the earlier days. The shift begs me to consider whether O’s readership has changed? Or is this perhaps a post-Oprah show Oprah magazine?

    • I don’t know the answer, I use to read the magazine for more often than I do today. I don’t think I really noticed the shift until this morning when it really reached out and bit me, offended me actually. This magazine was nothing like it use to be, it didn’t feature inspirational stories of real people and didn’t speak to or about real people any longer. I was saddened after I was angry.

      I don’t think the readership has changed. I think the magazine simply doesn’t care and is banking on the fact the core readership will accept the change without question or dissent.

  20. I spread this around a bit. Here’s hoping someone on her staff is watching their social media. 😛 You rock.
    ❤ by the bucket.
    xxx

  21. Right on! I subscribed to Oprah’s magazine about a decade ago in a previous life when I had a great interest in reading the life stories of inspirational women (which I still do today) and also had money to burn if I so wished, but which I NEVER wished, as I’m far too practical and mindful of how I spend my money. I stopped my subscription because of the onslaught of ridiculously expensive products routinely advertised in the mag. I, too, noticed a complete disconnect from the down-to-earth inspirational women stories and the products advertised in the mag. To me, then, nothing has changed if you say that is still how it is now. I don’t get how she doesn’t see that. I suppose she doesn’t know what her true redeeming quality is, and that is to connect us with something real, honest and inspirational. The rest of it is a wasteful distraction and, in my case, cancels out the value of the good message.

    • This is why I buy it now and then, if something on the cover catches my eye and then like this morning I get spun up. Like you, I was looking for that story that would connect with me, even the story that caught my eye ended up being a disappointment.

  22. ***every advertisement but one, nothing but skinny bitches not one single woman looks like me***

    You must must must send this letter to Oprah. Obviously, she has changed the format of her magazine. It now seems to be for the skinny & rich. This is SO NOT what it started as. What happened to “Every Woman?”

    Great letter, Sweets.

    Luv U. Xxx

    • I thought it was for every woman also, guess not. Maybe we can get this out in the blogosphere and someone on her editorial staff will see it. I think if I were to send it I would have to clean it up to much, I kinda like it the way it is…don’t you?

      Love back at you!

      XX

  23. I used to have a subscription to that magazine. I was often floored by Oprah’s “Favorite Things.” They were so expensive, most people could never indulge in them. Eight-hundred dollar drinking glasses aren’t the norm!

    As for skinny women, I think most magazines are packed with them. I don’t really read women’s magazines, so maybe they’ve changed? If not, you’re right; one would think Oprah a good source to change these things up.

    • I still like the magazine, I do. Even if everything is so far out of reach I enjoy looking. I also like a couple of the regulars like Suze Orman and Reading Room. For whatever reason though, this month just set me off.

      You are right, the skinny thing all womens’ magazines are stuffed full of them. If I buy Vogue, I expect it and accept it. With Oprah though, there use to be a more balanced strategy, at least I thought I remembered one. Maybe I am crazy. I simply believe Oprah with her history she could represent a broader audience.

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