Oprah Winfrey: Broadcaster says mocking her weight was ‘national sport’

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By Charlotte Gallagher, Culture reporter

Oprah Winfrey has spoken about the “shame” she experienced after being “ridiculed” about her weight.

Speaking about her weight and obesity in a TV special, the US broadcaster and actress said she would “never forget” called “bumpy, lumpy and downright dumpy” on a magazine cover. Winfrey, 70, has lost a significant amount of weight through medication, and praised weight-loss drugs. She has not specified which one she uses, however.

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An Oprah Special: Shame, Blame and the Weight Loss Revolution, broadcast in the US on ABC, showed an emotional Winfrey talking about the pain of being humiliated by late-night talk show hosts and tabloids for 25 years.

She read out a number of previous headlines about her, including “Oprah: Fatter than ever” and “Oprah warned ‘diet or die’.”

Winfrey praised weight loss drugs saying “In my lifetime, I never dreamed that we would be talking about medicine that is providing hope for people like me, who have struggled for years with being overweight or obesity.”

She became emotional when describing the medication as giving people a “sense of hope” as you “no longer blame yourself”.

Winfrey added she hoped she 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”.

The media mogul said she made the decision to stop serving on the board of Weightwatchers because she did not want a “perceived conflict of interest” for the ABC TV special. Oprah Winfrey to leave board of Weightwatchers

She also donated her shares in Weightwatchers to the Smithsonian Museum Of African American History And Culture.

Winfrey also spoke openly about her attempts to lose weight and how in 1988 she starved herself “for nearly five months”, then displayed a lump of animal fat equivalent to the weight she had lost on her talk show. Winfrey ended the broadcast by saying “let’s stop the shaming and blaming, there is no place for it”. The presenter hosted The Oprah Winfrey Show which aired from 1986-2011, was one of the most successful shows in US TV history.

Her 1993 interview with Michael Jackson saw 90 million viewers tune in, while it was her television couch that Tom Cruise jumped on in 2005 to proclaim his love for Katie Holmes. Winfrey was invited to the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. And her deeply personal 2021 interview with them, a two-hour special on CBS, generated global headlines.