Oprah Winfrey Comes Clean

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In a revelation that is making waves in the weight-loss industry, Oprah Winfrey has openly admitted to incorporating weight-loss medication into her health regimen. The media mogul, aged 69, shared her experiences, shedding light on a topic often shrouded in secrecy among celebrities.

“She’s bringing down a lot of the public stigma with medications helping patients,” says Dr. Aria Vazirnia, a leading lipedema surgeon with the Advanced Lipedema Treatment Program at The Roxbury Institute. “[Medications like Ozempic and Wegovy] should not be taken lightly; but, if they are monitored by an appropriate specialist such as a board certified endocrinologist, then they can be given safely, and they can be safely used to treat patients.”

Winfrey’s weight has long been the subject of intense scrutiny. In a People cover story, she said she’s been “blamed and shamed” constantly over her weight.

Winfrey said it wasn’t until this year that she added weight-loss medication to her health regimen, which also includes hiking, eating her last meal at 4 p.m. and drinking a gallon of water a day. She also serves as an investor and board member for WW, formerly WeightWatchers, which announced in March it would add weight loss drugs like Wegovy to its program.

“I was actually recommending it to people long before I was on it myself,” Winfrey told People. “I had an awareness of medications, but felt I had to prove I had the willpower to do it. I now no longer feel that way.”

“Obesity is a disease. It’s not about willpower — it’s about the brain,” she added.

Vazirnia says it’s common for people to feel shame around taking weight-loss medication, even when they meet the medical requirements for it or need it to treat an underlying condition, such as diabetes. He hopes Winfrey’s words help change that.

“A lot of people look up to Oprah as a source of mentorship, inspiration and guidance,” he says. “If Oprah speaks about a medication and shines light about it, then a lot of people will not only look at it more favorably, but they would also research it more on their own, get more information and learn more about it.”

After looking into the science behind the medication, Winfrey said she “released [her] own shame about it” and consulted her doctor, who prescribed it to her. Vazirnia emphasizes these medications can cause side effects and should only be taken under medical supervision.

“The fact that there’s a medically approved prescription for managing weight and staying healthier, in my lifetime, feels like relief, like redemption, like a gift, and not something to hide behind and once again be ridiculed for,” Winfrey said. “I’m absolutely done with the shaming from other people and particularly myself.”

By coming forward about weight-loss medication, Winfrey is also modeling transparency with the public, something experts say is essential for celebrities who do not wish to promote unrealistic body image expectations.

Winfrey isn’t the only public figure to embrace this ethos. Sia revealed on social media Saturday she underwent a liposuction procedure; Kaley Cuoco, was lauded for openly discussing her plastic surgeries; and Dolly Parton famously said “if something is bagging, sagging or dragging, I’ll tuck it, suck it or pluck it.”

“Many celebrities look good naturally, but many also have work done. And when they’re not honest about it, I think they’re being unethical because they’re in the spotlight,” Dr. Daniel Barrett, a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, previously told USA TODAY.

“They… have a moral obligation to be transparent about anything they’ve had done that helps them achieve a certain look,” Barrett added, unlike average people, who can benefit from and take advantage of keeping their body alterations private.

The consequences of deceiving the public in this way can be detrimental and long lasting, experts say, especially when it comes to people’s mental health.

“The psychological pressure to meet societal beauty standards can be difficult to manage, especially because it can leave you feeling like you’re never good enough,” Naomi Torres-Mackie, a clinical psychologist and head of research at the Mental Health Coalition, previously told USA TODAY. The pressure to be perfect can also contribute to disordered eating, experts say.

It can be tempting to compare yourself to seemingly perfect celebrities or influencers, but Torres-Mackie said it’s healthier to separate who you are from what you or others look like.

“In a culture where a lot of value is placed on appearance, it takes a lot of effort to distance yourself from that,” she said. “Consider unfollowing social media accounts that leave you feeling bad. Be mindful as you scroll about which accounts leave you feeling good and which leave you second guessing your own value. Unfollowing those is a way of practicing trigger elimination.”

Learn more about her thoughts regarding the matter in the video below.

What are your thoughts on celebrities openly discussing their experiences with weight-loss medications?