Oprah’s power sways many people

Oprah’s personal trainer came to town Wednesday to encourage Bay Area residents to sign a contract with themselves for a healthier life. Bob Greene, author of The Best Life Diet, signed autographs for the followers of what I call “The Church of Oprah.”

That’s right, The Church of Oprah. Faithful worshippers of all shapes and sizes lined up for a chance to meet the man who changed Oprah’s life – and who may change theirs as well.

A peppy woman yelled into a camera how much Oprah and Greene had changed her life. She and another woman exclaimed, “The Best Life for us!”

I couldn’t help but roll my eyes.

People came to me and asked why I wasn’t in line to meet Greene. Someone even asked why I wasn’t excited. I found it difficult to be excited over a person who can’t keep one of the most powerful women in America at a decent weight, especially considering that his success is because of that woman.

Now, before you get angry, I know Oprah had a thyroid problem last year. In October 2007, she announced that she “blew out her thyroid” due to stress. That still doesn’t explain her weight gains and losses over the last 10 years.

Yes, I know she’s human. Yes, I know America puts her on a pedestal. I also know America sets her up for failure. That’s exactly my point – nothing she does or is associated with is considered to be wrong.

The Church of Oprah can relate to almost everyone. From rape and abortion to weight and relationship problems, Oprah can adapt and relate to the needs of all her viewers.

But while she inspires many, she also sways a lot of people to consume particular products. Viewers continue to idolize her every move. Whether it’s what book to read, what to eat, how to sleep, what to wear or how to work out, she has an answer – and a corresponding expert or item – for it all.

I cannot agree with Oprah’s fans. The thought of changing my life according to hers scares me. Each time Oprah loses weight, her image is everywhere, assuring others that they can do the same. She recommends whatever new product she’s on and talks about all the wonders it has done for her. A few months later, she gains it all back and forgets about all the promises she made to herself – not the fans, but herself.

That being said, I question the judgment of her most loyal fans. Whatever happens to Oprah, she is never held accountable. When Nicole Richie or any other celebrity yo-yos in weight, Oprah’s fans freely criticize. If their fellow fans can’t control their weight, then they are gossiped about. However, these fans have no harsh words for the woman who owns everything from size four to size 20.

If you love Oprah so much because she’s so human, you should treat her that way. Take her advice like you’d take your neighbor’s, but don’t accept it as moral law. Renounce the Church of Oprah. Taking initiative in your life is more satisfying when it’s on your terms and you aren’t just doing something because someone told you to.

Over the past month people have been trying to abide by their New Year’s resolutions. If you’ve made one, hopefully it’s one that counts. You shouldn’t, however, make one because someone on TV decided to do so. You should make one because you want to feel good about yourself.

But just because I disagree with worshipping Oprah doesn’t mean that I don’t find it inspiring when someone decides to take control of his or her life. If The Best Life Diet can get you there, so be it. Don’t do it for Oprah, though – do it for yourself.

Cynthia D. Roldan is a senior majoring in mass communications.