This is embarrassing for me, a former literary scholar, the holder of two masters degrees, a community leader, to admit, but I enjoy Oprah. I also watch Dr. Phil and Nanny 911 and The Apprentice and The Cut. I used to watch Jerry Springer until it got so extreme that it went to pay-per-view, and I won’t pay to see it. Particularly in the age of digital video recording, when one can skip right over the annoying parts, it is mesmerizing to see the eternal struggles of humanity played out in variations.
I read murder mysteries for the same reason. I put a lot of time and energy into trying to untangle human motivation by observing activity, listening to spoken and unspoken intention, and exploring how different people’s realities collide.
I relate to Oprah, too, because we are almost the same age. And like Oprah, I am healthier, stronger, happier and more beautiful now than I was five years ago. Yesterday’s show focused on women who were dramatically more beautiful than they were a decade before, and the physical transformations were indeed dramatic and inspiring. That extra thirty pounds lost. The intent to keep a strong and healthy body. The conscious presentation of self to world by choosing clothing, hair and makeup. The personal tricks and tips ranged from the unsavory (putting Preparation H on your face every night) to the athletic (a woman who could stand on folding chairs and do a backbend to pick up a glass of juice in her teeth, then drink it down). Overall, Oprah had a good time with the show and with almost no mention of cosmetic surgery avoided drifting into the desperate territory of a Swan, which I do not watch.
There were mind games to try—put your alarm clock across the room and your sneakers next to it. The idea is that if you were standing up, the sight of your sneakers would guilt you into activity. Personally, I have become immune to guilt rays delivered by inanimate objects, so I would make a personal rule to put my shoes on before I was allowed to turn off the alarm clock. But then, I used to sleep in my exercise clothes.
By far, my favorite tip was one I discovered last year—wear pretty underwear all the time. Get rid of the grannies. Who wants to see those? I can’t tell you how often the image of a wisp of magenta lace in the ladies room mirror has lifted my spirits. Or how deeply reassuring it is to face a board meeting knowing that you are wearing your best matched black frills. A difficult conversation seems so much easier when you wear that ridiculous pink thong with the rose on the back. I can’t explain it, but it is true.
It is the rare fifty-year-old who can get away with wearing miniskirts, and I am not one of them. After yesterday’show, I might go for the next level of bodily improvement, but discretion bids a certain degree of coverage. But my underwear is my own affair.