Annette John-Hall: Instead of counting calories, focus on the things that count
Stop the (panini) presses. Oprah Winfrey is fat again. Yes, the talk-show queen has revealed that she's officially a heavyweight - 200 pounds.
Stop the (panini) presses. Oprah Winfrey is fat again.
Yes, the talk-show queen has revealed that she's officially a heavyweight - 200 pounds.
How many times have we been down this road? Once more, Oprah's flogging herself, this time in the January issue of her magazine - you know, the one that's part of her billion-dollar Midas touch that helped elect a president, revolutionize the book business, and educate a whole generation of South African girls.
All that, and yet she's stressing over her weight, asking, "How did I let this happen again?"
Given everything she's done for the world, should we really care whether Oprah is counting calories?
Or maybe the better question to ask is: Should Oprah care what we think?
And if the big O struggles under the pressure, imagine how everyday girls in Philadelphia must feel.
It's a powerful thing, self-esteem. Especially for girls. Constantly bombarded by images of perfection, asked to live up to unrealistic expectations, girls learn at a young age how imperfect they are.
Help for girls
And, more and more, girls are acting out in uncharacteristically aggressive and self-destructive ways.
Oprah might have benefited from a self-esteem workshop for girls held this week at a Boys and Girls Club in Germantown.
And the fact that it was sponsored by Dove was especially intriguing.
Like most women, I nearly fell off the treadmill when I first saw pictures of full-figured, older, well, regular women - some wearing just underwear - celebrated in Dove's Real Beauty ad campaign in 2004.
I had always wondered what would make a global brand like Dove back such an honest and organic message when it could have easily stuck to moisturizing.
"They wanted to widen the view of beauty because the view was so myopic," says Jess Weiner, 35, the workshop facilitator, whose official title is Dove Global Ambassador.
"There was so much interest about the campaign, we thought we should talk about it a little more."
The Penn State grad, an energetic size 16, is conducting workshops at Boys and Girls Clubs in 20 cities, working with girls ages 10 to 16, helping them see beauty and self-esteem in a different way.
By looking in the mirror.
"Sometimes, when television doesn't show girls who look like you, who have your color skin, who don't live where you live, you tend to think you don't exist," Weiner told the group of mostly black and Latino teens. "We forget to appreciate who we are."
According to a Dove survey of girls across the country, Philly ranks among the top 10 cities with the highest percentage of teens acting out: bullying, cutting, smoking and drinking - mostly because they feel bad about themselves.
And, oftentimes, they can't articulate why.
It could be because their family's in disarray, or that they're comparing themselves to Beyonce - eyelashes, extensions and all.
Stress is universal.
"If I'm in Beverly Hills, it would be about eating disorders and plastic surgery," Weiner says.
In the workshop, Weiner had two girls act out a what-would-you-do scenario if a friend complained that other girls were talking about her.
Some said they would confront the gossipers or even start a rumor about them.
Weiner suggested a more positive path - build up your friend's confidence instead of taking revenge on the others. Only to feel bad about yourself later.
A self-esteem-building approach Oprah preaches to her viewers every day - but can't seem to always put in practice.
And the most valuable gift to yourself that even Oprah money can't buy.