Oprah Winfrey Calls for the End of Weight Shame

At a WeightWatchers event, Oprah Winfrey shared her personal journey with weight and diet culture, urging the world to release the shame surrounding weight.

By Danielle Young

May 14, 2024 / 11:23 AM

Oprah Winfrey has released the shame she’s carried about her weight and now she wants the world to release the shame too. The esteemed TV giant hosted a WeightWatchers event called “Making The Shift: A New Way to Think About Weight,” with guests Amber Riley, Busy Phillips, and Rebel Wilson to attempt to have candid conversations about weight that can silence the shame.

Winfrey, who has been on screens for over three decades, has dealt with weight loss struggles for the entire world. The 70-year-old icon shared her shame story about her weight and details about being invited to go on “The Tonight Show with Joan Rivers” guest hosting. Rivers fat-shamed a young Oprah and asked how she gained the weight, then challenged her to lose it on national television–in Oprah’s very first appearance on the show.

Winfrey’s diet and body became a topic of discussion and jokes in the tabloids. She said she was never angry about the criticisms because she felt she deserved it. So she did what anyone under the heat of the lights, camera, action would do–she participated in diet culture. 

“I have been a steadfast participant in this diet culture through my platforms, through the magazine, through the talk show for 25 years, through online–I’ve been a major contributor to it. I cannot tell you how many weight loss shows and makeovers I have done,” Oprah admitted. 

Dangerous diets were a staple in the time that Oprah had her “Oprah Winfrey Show” and desperate to lose the weight, she joined in. Winfrey brought up that infamous moment on her show where she proudly dropped the pounds and wheeled out a wagon of fat, representing the weight she released. 

“That famous ‘wagon on fat’ moment on the Oprah Show is one of my biggest regrets,” she said. “It sends a message that staring yourself with a liquid diet set a standard that I or anyone else could uphold.”

When you know better, you do better’ this Maya Angelou quote and way to live has seeped into Oprah’s spirit and she wants to do better. A big moment for Winfrey to do better was realizing that obesity is a disease. Now that she’s aware of the severity, she wants to spread the information.

During the special, Oprah shared, “It’s taken me up until last week to process the shame.” She continued, “We have been scrutinized. We’ve been shamed. And we’ve been told that unless we meet a certain standard of size, that we didn’t deserve to be accepted, or even to be loved. What I know for sure is…I am done with it!”