Oprah Admits She Was a ‘Major Contributor’ to Toxic Diet Culture

Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET
Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET

Oprah Winfrey had some new thoughts to share about weight loss this week, just a few months after she embraced Ozempic and stepped down from the board of WeightWatchers, a weight loss brand she’d worked with for nearly a decade.

In a live event streamed on Thursday called “Making The Shift: A New Way to Think About Weight,” the talk show host took a few moments to address her history covering weight loss on television, saying she wants “to acknowledge that I have been a steadfast participant in this diet culture through my platforms, through the magazine, the talk show for 25 years, [and] online—I’ve been a major contributor to it.”

“I’ve shared how that famous ‘wagon of fat’ moment on The Oprah Show is one of my biggest regrets,” she added, recalling the famous 1988 episode where she pulled a red wagon with 67 pounds of animal fat in it to show her audience how much weight she’d lost with a liquid diet. The episode, which became the highest rated one in The Oprah Show’s history, drew plenty of criticism in the years that followed, with some calling it one of her worst TV moments.

“It set a standard for people watching that I nor anybody else could uphold,” she said, adding that it also backfired because it put extra pressure on her to keep the weight off. “I said this before, the next day—the very next day, I began to gain the weight back,” she added.

Winfrey has been candid about her personal struggle with the media coverage of her weight gains and losses at the height of her show’s success; she previously told People, “It was a public sport to make fun of me for 25 years.” She touched on that experience again this week, saying that she now sees a connection between her own shame and how the wagon episode came about: “I know now that that wagon of fat moment was set into motion after years and years of thinking that my struggle with my weight was my fault,” she said. “And it has taken me even up until last week to process the shame that I felt privately as my very public yo-yo diet moments became a national joke.”

Last year, Winfrey revealed that she was quitting dieting and embracing the buzzy diabetes management medication Ozempic to lose weight. “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,” she told People in December.

This week, however, she said she’s “done” with weight-shaming herself and contributing to a toxic diet culture. “I cannot tell you how many weight loss shows and makeovers I have done, and they have been a staple since I have been working in television,” she said. “What I know for sure is that I am done with it.”

Oprah Winfrey Explains Why She Resigned From WeightWatchers Board

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