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Monday, September 6, 2010

Living O Update

Back at the beginning of July, I wrote about our book club's side discussion about Oprah. Specifically, what it is about her that makes women base some pretty major life decisions on what she says/advises?

The conversation came about because one of the book club members (Andrea, a regular commenter on this blog) had recently read the Living Oprah book by Robyn Okrant, and still felt many of the questions that came up in our discussion were unanswered. So, I decided to read the Living Oprah blog myself to see if Robyn had any insights in to how Oprah's advise and suggestions affect women, and why some women take her advice without thinking or doing their own research.

I finished reading Robyn's 2007 entries a couple weeks ago. She posted pretty much every weekday for the entire year to share her thoughts about each Oprah show. Not only that, she gave herself completely over to Oprah: every suggestion Oprah made on the show, Robyn had to do. It was a very interesting, funny, and sometimes frustrating read.

One common theme that came up (which we discussed at the book club) was Oprah's contradicting advice. One day she would get everyone to sign a contract to live their best life (exercise, diet, meditation, etc.) then the next day she would be giving out cake and ice cream to her audience. These contradictions seemed to frustrate Robyn quite a bit - and for good reason! First, it was difficult for her to follow Oprah's advice. Second, she felt that even though she was living her best life, Oprah was not practicing what she preached. Robyn brought up an interesting point a few times throughout the year: should we hold Oprah to her own standard she sets on the show? Does she have to follow all her own advice, or is she purely a way to get this information out there?

Another interesting thing that happened to Robyn was how her outlook about life and herself seemed to become more confused as the year went on. A number of times she mentioned that she had never thought about her appearance more than during that time. She had never been the type to ask her husband if she looked okay, but she started constantly worrying about her looks and if she was put together enough. This kind of behavior extended to how she was eating, what her house looked like, what activities she was involved in, and if she was spiritual enough. It was interesting how the more advice she received from Oprah, the more unsure she became about her own life and decisions.

Robyn mentioned a few times how Oprah would not follow up on certain challenges or stories, even if she promised too. For example, the 2007 season started off with Oprah getting everyone to sign up for The Best Life Challenge - but she never returned to the topic to see how people were doing! Interestingly enough, this was one of my beefs with Robyn's blog as well. She would write these great posts, but would rarely follow up or reflect on them. Perhaps the book is better for this? Or maybe she is more reflective in her posts after 2007?

I am continuing to read the rest of her entries to see if she has any more concrete thoughts on how the experiment affected her. If I find anything interesting, I will let you know, but I just wanted to share my thoughts about the blog up to this point.