Oprah Gets Real About Her Weight Loss Journey In New Primetime Special



On Monday, March 18th, 2024, Oprah Winfrey debuted An Oprah Special: Shame, Blame, and the Weight Loss Revolution, a prime-time special on ABC about, you guessed it, weight loss. Recently, Winfrey has come under fire from the public for omitting certain aspects of her weight loss journey. In December 2023, at the world premiere of The Color Purple at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles. she mentioned to Entertainment Tonight, “It’s not one thing, it’s everything. I intend to keep it that way,” she said, adding, “I was on that treadmill today.” A few weeks later, she revealed to People Magazine in a cover story, that she uses weight-loss medication as a “maintenance tool.”

She said, “It was public sport to make fun of me for 25 years. I have been blamed and shamed, and I blamed and shamed myself.” Winfrey shared with the outlet that she believes obesity is a disease, and once she accepted the science behind weight-loss drugs, she was able to release her own shame about it. “I now use it as I feel I need it, as a tool to manage not yo-yoing,” she previously said. 

Winfrey continued, “The fact that there’s a medically approved prescription for managing weight and staying healthier, in my lifetime, feels like relief, like redemption, like a gift, and not something to hide behind and once again be ridiculed for. I’m absolutely done with the shaming from other people and particularly myself.”

As for her recent special, Winfrey successfully gathered people like her who have suffered from chronic weight gain and management, providing a safe space to share the pain she’s felt on her weight loss journey, including the constant scrutiny and ridicule. 

“I wanted to do this special for the more than 100 million people in the United States and the over 1 billion people around the world living with obesity,” Winfrey said while introducing the program. “Maybe that’s you, or maybe that’s somebody you love.”

She continued, “In my lifetime, I never dreamed we would be talking about medicines that would be providing hope to people like me, who have struggled for years with being overweight or with obesity. “I come to this conversation with the hope that we can start releasing the stigma and the shame and the judgment – to stop shaming other people for being overweight or how they choose to lose or not lose weight – and, more importantly, to stop shaming ourselves.”

Winfrey also shared that she believes obesity is a disease and blames herself for not being able to lose adequate weight. “When I tell you how many times I have blamed myself,” Winfrey said. You think I’m smart enough to figure this out, and then to hear it’s you fighting your brain all along.” 

In true Winfrey fashion, she brought out weight-loss experts W. Scott Butsch, Director of Obesity Medicine in the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, and Dr. Amanda Velazquez, an obesity expert at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, to help the audience learn more about obesity and weight-loss medications. They also addressed the potential side effects of weight loss medications and the risks that should be considered before taking them. 

Although Winfrey uses weight-loss medication as part of her toolkit, she is adamant about people understanding that she’s also doing other things to lose weight. Even at 70 years old, she’s an avid hiker and runner and pays attention to her diet. 

“It’s not just one thing; it’s multiple things,” Winfrey said. To close out the program, Winfrey acknowledged those who may feel “happy and healthy” living in a bigger body, people who only exercise to lose weight, and those who are curious about using medication to achieve weight loss.

“There is space for all points of view. Let’s stop the shaming and blaming. There’s no place for it. There’s a spectrum of obesity. It’s not one disease, it’s many different subtypes of disease,” Butsch said. “It’s not a matter of willpower,” she said. 


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