Oprah Winfrey once stated in an interview, “I am not defined by a show.”
And, truly, she is not.
She has been called many things. Inspirational. Generous. Smart. Funny. An icon. She is definitely those and a whole lot more. Except for the icon part. Oprah Winfrey is not an icon. An icon is an object. Oprah is not an object, she is a person. And one of the most fascinating people of our time.
And she’s come a long way from growing up in poverty to becoming one of the wealthiest women in the world.
Oprah defied society’s standards. All of them. She defied the standards of what a woman should look like as set forth by society as well as advertising. Her effervescent and enthusiastic personality overcame those standards to prove that women don’t have to conform to those swizzle-stick, starved white female models in all those magazine ads.
Not that Oprah is not a beautiful woman. She is. No matter what her weight, she is one of those rare women who has a light that shines from within. But society deems that women should weigh less than a hundred pounds and look anorexic before they are acceptable. At least, that’s the subliminal message set forth by advertising.
But it’s a message that isn’t important to Oprah, nor should that message be important to any woman. The important thing, displayed admirably by Oprah Winfrey, is how a woman feels about herself and how it is more important that a woman feel good about herself than it is what society thinks about how she looks. It is a message all women, as well as young girls, should learn and teach.
Oprah raised the bar for literacy. She challenged viewers to read books they normally wouldn’t give a second glance. She’s opened schools for underprivileged girls in other countries. Given away cars. And her photo has graced countless tabloids numerous times. She is one of the most-recognized celebrities in America.
Oprah’s entire life is cause for inspiration and admiration for women from all walks of life. Regardless of race or economic status, women can look at this woman born in rural Mississippi to a single mother and each woman can believe she is capable of creating a better life for herself. Not only can a woman believe she is capable of this, a woman can actually accomplish it. If a woman such as Oprah, who used to be teased for the clothing she wore to school, can lift herself up from poverty, so can any other woman.
Oprah and her show have strived to make the world a better place. And, in her own way, I believe Oprah has done just that. Oprah has taught by example. The woman gave cars to every member of her studio audience. If that is not a lesson in generosity, I don’t know what is.
Naturally, not many of us are capable of generosity at that level. But we can each be generous in our own ways. It isn’t necessary to give someone a car in order to be generous, but every act of generosity and kindness is an act of uplifting the human spirit and of celebrating our humanity.
She has decided to end her show in September of 2011. Which means we have two more years to enjoy and learn from her. I am as saddened by this news as anyone else. But Oprah is not one to sit still for long and I cannot help but wonder what she will be doing next. Whatever it is, I’m looking forward to it.
But as Oprah stated in that interview I mentioned earlier, “I’ll be fine.”
One of my favorite Oprah Winfrey quotes is as follows: There is a sacred calling on your life, and the question is: Will you spend your life flittering and fluttering about or take the time and really heed that call and create your own path to your highest good? . . . You cannot let other people define your life for you. You are the author of your own life . . . Real power is when you are doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing, the best it can be done. Authentic power. There’s a surge, there’s a kind of energy field that says, “I’m in my groove, I’m in my groove.” And nobody has to tell you, “You go, girl,” because you know you’re already gone.
So I say to Oprah: You Go Girl.