Oprah Doesn’t Like Me Anymore

There’s been a bit of hubbub about an article in the New York Times in which Oprah – feel-good queen of all women, leader of the free world’s “aha” moments-  declared that she isn’t interested in attracting women -of a certain age- (and you know who I mean, right?) to her magazine.
oprah winfrey, oprah and midlife women, demographics for oprah magazine, new york times, midlife, empty-nest, baby boomers

From the New York Times article:

Ms. Winfrey said she would like to attract women “in their 30s or perhaps their 20s, to be able to reach people when they are looking to fulfill their destiny.” She added, “By the time you’re 40, 42, you should have kind of figured it out already.”

Well, ok, Oprah! I guess women have it all figured out by the time we’re, oh, I don’t know, 45? You sure did. I guess. Me? I’m still working on it. If you don’t want to help me, that’s ok. I’ll survive.

I loved the Oprah magazine when it was first published 12 years ago because guess what? I was 38 at the time and I was her TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC! As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found her magazine, complete with a (very) airbrushed photo of her each month on the cover, to be a teensy bit boring, repetitive, and filled with a lot of pap from the likes of Martha Beck (Take this quiz to find your TRUE INNER SELF!), Dr. Phil* (dump that CAD who’s not nice to your mother!) and even Suze Orman – who I kind of like  (True happiness is about having LOTS OF MONEY in the bank!).

I’m so not her target market anymore because, among other things, I’m not interested in a lot of what I read in her (and, to be fair, many other) magazines. Have you seen her favorite things for the holidays this year? Some of that stuff is pretty spendy, I must say. Not many 20 or 30 year olds can afford a set of 14 bars of soap for $238. Hell, I just bought two 8 packs of Dial at Target for my husband for $6.29 a piece, less my $1.00 coupon. Talk about a bargain.

Really, fellow midlife women, do you honestly care whether Oprah wants you to read her stuff? Haven’t we all watched, listened, read and inhaled enough of Oprah and her constant reinvention to last us a lifetime? Aren’t there lots  of moments when you think – “what would Oprah say?”

Me neither.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Oprah since she started her show – and until now, I wasn’t sure what she felt about me, or whether she thought about me at all. I mean, I haven’t gotten a car, or a pile of gifts, or any other life-changing stuff from her. Still, I always enjoy her interviews with celebs. Especially when she’s all buddy-buddy with them, talking about the rockin’ Hollywood parties they’ve been to and it feels like we’re just hanging at the mansion up in Montecito, playing with the dogs…

I don’t resent her wanting younger readers – after all, she needs to keep those billions growing for…well, I don’t really know why. But she just has to.

At 58, she is still reinventing herself, her brand, her image, her place in the world. It’s not enough that she’s built schools, given away millions to scholarships, charities, individuals, political candidates, and lord knows who else. She could probably keep an entire state employed if she wanted to.

At the core of all of this more, more, more is Oprah – and it appears that she will never, ever be satisfied with having reached the top of nearly every mountain she’s climbed, metaphorically speaking. If she needs to attract younger readers to her magazine, then so be it – and good for her for being honest about it. Just like she is about the rest of her life…

Except that airbrush business. And, well, who knows what else.

Oprah was my girl for a while. Then she wasn’t. Then she was. Now I get the message. I’m old. And if I’m old, she’s really old, but that’s besides the point.

Good luck to you, Oprah. Not that you need it- but I’ve had my “aha” moment, and I’m moving on.


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  1. says

    Never was a huge fan. Sure, she’s an amazing philanthropist, but she is so into hero worship (she, being the “hero”), and I am not. I guess that means Gayle is out, because she’s old too. Oprah, your time has come…and gone. Take your cash and go. Now, Ellen…that’s another story….
    mindy recently posted..Madison Avenue Wake-UpMy Profile

  2. says

    My company’s sleepwear line has been turned down by O magazine for the last 3 years. I take it as a badge of honor to be considered as well as turned down because it is : “not a higher price point”, “needs to be edgier” or “appeal is too small market niche”! Women experiencing Night sweats? Hello Oprah!
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  3. says

    What a shame – I always liked Oprah but it seems to me she’s forgotten where her fan-base is. How many 20 and 30 year olds will identify with her, I wonder? I can understand what she’s doing but I hope she’s not throwing the baby out with the bath water.
    Still, looking on the bright side, if she’s not interested in helping all those lovely midlife ladies who HAVEN’T yet figured themselves out, that leaves MUCH more room for me!!
    Cathy Dean, the UK’s Premier Confidence Coach for Midlife Women recently posted..Movember, December…Fanuary!My Profile

  4. says

    Personally when it was announced that she was ending her daytime talk show I never shed a tear. I sort of felt like it was time and I knew I would not miss her show. I never bothered to pay the extra $$ to bump up my cable subscription so I could watch her new network either. But I suppose perhaps that is because I turned 40 last year :)

  5. says

    You will never know what this post just did for me…validation, big time! I have held similar beliefs about OPRAH for a long time and even faced ridicule for not being on her bandwagon! So, your post and words really mean a great deal. I think her comment is very telling and very uninformed! Women in their 50s are changing careers and starting new careers in big ways…we are making a difference in a variety of fields. She can jump right in with other publications targeting this age group and die on the vine along with them. The younger generation does not want to hold magazines in their hands where they are constantly using their phones or I PADS….we are the ones who still appreciate print media. She is closing her door to an audience that is still alive, active, and spending. Misdirected…just like the decision to start her own TV network!!

  6. says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have felt this way about Oprah for years, and have been conversationally ostracized by many women when expressing my views. I was even annoyed by her tearing down of the author of “A Million Little Pieces” because he DARED to lie to HER. She has done amazing things for others, for which I commend her. But I feel like the group at High School that’s being left behind as somebody moves in with the popular girls . . . and that rarely ends up being a good thing for anybody.

    • says

      She’s always been a bit obsessive about what she loves and believes in. Nothing will ever compare the the wheelbarrow filled with fat and her liquid diet…which of course was unsuccessful.

  7. says

    I admire Oprah for her busy savvy, but now I am more than over Oprah. I have a good friend, a priest- who called her the “high priestess” and ranted about her starting her own church and congregation. Really.

    By the way, “More” is the only rag I am aware of that caters to Baby Boomers and those past 50. I have thought of starting a publication to cater to women like me, who aren’t at all dead yet, and still have the energy to kick up their heels and have a good time.

  8. says

    Oh, Sharon, thank you for this honest and hilarious rant! Just the kind of writing I love from you. Great rallying cry: Enough of Oprah insulting our demographic!

    But I must take issue with one of your comments: “She is heading for a big fall, in my opinion.” I think your tense might be a teensy bit inaccurate . . .

    And if my daughters, 24 and 27, are representative of that demographic, Oprah is in deep trouble. They have no interest in anything she has to say.
    Ann Dunnewold recently posted..An antidote to ThanksgivingMy Profile

  9. says

    Hi, Sharon,
    I guess I’m going to be stepping up for Oprah here :-). I’m 43, so right in the demographic that Oprah is “dissing,” although I did not take her words in that sense at all. I have been a long-time fan of Oprah and still follow some of her network. I have watched all of her behind-the-scenes shows i.e., ending her show and building the new network. Oprah is always transparent about when systems are flagging and how much she hates to fail. This is personal, but it is also about the deep commitment to her team. She employs a ton of people. HARPO lost staff when her show ended, then OWN downsized, and if she is facing a magazine downturn, then I would imagine she certainly has to be savvy. It sounded like she wants to add to her demographic, not replace her current demographic. It sounds like she was weathered that day and made a poor statement and will likely put it in context, as she often does. Oprah has said many times on her behind the scenes shows that she knows she can’t make any communication slip without it being chopped and rechopped like the rest of us can; she usually makes it right.

    Regarding the “Favorite Things,” I didn’t read the piece in the magazine, but did you watch the episode on OWN? I did last week. The episode was a tear-jerker. They did an hour on behind-the scenes, which was fascinating. Oprah actually does put small, “unknown” products on the map that are inexpensive. Viewers were able to watch her tell the brother-sister owners of a popcorn startup (that Gayle found at a street festival) that she was choosing them. Anyway, she wanted to honor military wives and a husband who are benevolent, themselves, and who have faced insurmountable odds. She wanted them to feel luxurious. Her items are high-dollar for most of us, but in that instance, I was so happy for those women and one man.

    I shared your piece and I imagine many share your perspective. I will be interested to see what the coming weeks bring for Oprah as she responds to the firestorm that will no doubt come her way. Hopefully she will not disappoint this steadfast fan (I have high hopes :-).

    • says

      Ellen, thanks for your very insightful comment. I was a huge fan of her “Behind the Scenes” show, and I admired her honesty and comfort level with showing who she is, warts and all.

      I think the crux of the problem is this: Oprah is trying to stay relevent to everyone for everything. It’s just not possible. She is too old – both culturally and demographically – to appeal to a wide swath of young women as a personality, so now she is going that route through her publication. Her television station has been a huge disappointment, not only to her but to those of us who watched her show.

      Thanks for sharing my blog. I appreciate you reading and commenting!

  10. says

    I don’t think I was ever in Oprah’s target demographic. So, my opinion is uninformed, but here it is anyway. It sounds like she is afraid of what many women fear: being irrelevant. She’s a competitive business person in a competitive industry. It’s not about the money; it’s about staying on top.
    Ginger Kay recently posted..Do you believe in Santa Claus?My Profile

  11. says

    How a 50-something zillionaire with a television and dead-tree magazine empire will attract 20- and 30-something women is a mystery to me. She has created some other zillionaires, notably Ellen, who doesn’t need her any more. But even Ellen is treading dangerously close to the god-complex Oprah bequeathed to her. Clearly Oprah isn’t comfortable enough with herself to give it a rest.
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  12. says

    Oprah has basically violated a big rule.. “dance with the one who brung ya” Women in their 50’s helped her to achieve the level of status & success she’s enjoyed for decades. Now we’re too old? not relevant? Good luck to her in her search to attract 20 & 30 something women, it’s going to take a lot more than air brushing her pics to sell young people onher tired meme’s about self-discovery.
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  13. says

    Great thoughts! I agree, too, that the magazine has gotten a bit repetitive, although I still think it’s the best women’s magazine around.

    Now about Dr. Phil…I’ll have to admit that his, “How’s that workin’ for you?” is the best aha moment I’ve ever had. I use it to decide on changing anything from the brand of kitchen trash bags I use to dealing with heartcrunching family issues.

  14. says

    Thank you Sharon for another great piece hitting on the realties for those of us in our 50’s or older, Yikes! And I was liking my 50’s!

    So as far as Oprah is concerned I was suppose to have figured it out in my early 40’s? Hmm?
    Maybe if I hadn’t had to move to another state for an amazing job, working fulltime as a single parent (because my ex-husband stopped paying child support and alimony) – oh and yes I tried to make it work with him but he came out of the closet- moved to Las Vegas where I had no family or support system, (thank goodness for other sport team parents and a high school student I hired for after school) spending most of my weekends driving my sons to various sports (which I do not have one regret over!) and trying to make sure my kids were on the right path –
    Oprah says I was suppose to be thinking about ME? And figuring it all out? Wow, couldn’t she have let me know that back then?
    Was that before I put the laundry in the washing machine as I left to drive my kids to school to be at my desk by 8:15am(one of their chores was to fold it before I got home)(chores a good thing!) or while I was making dinner at 7:30 at night and helping with homework? I swear for several years I really thought ESPN was the only channel they had in Las Vegas because I never even saw the remote control!

    I am not pleading any hard luck story here. I have had wonderful opportunities. I have two amazing son’s that I am beyond proud of. They are now on their own, one married.
    As for me, …I am doing my thing, building a new company…figuring it out each and everyday.

  15. says

    The best I can say is Oprah is being honest about her target audience. I agree with you and disagree with her that women know their destiny by age 42. That is so wrong! In midlife, you can reinvent yourself. Oprah’s OWN channel is struggling. Maybe it’s her target demographic. Good post.

  16. says

    Great post, having turned 40 this year I’m glad I drop out of the demographic. It’s been a long time since I’ve watched her and I’ve only read one magazine years ago, so maybe she is right about the target audience.

    Oh and why anyone would ever listen to Dr Phil is beyond me. He’s one person who has always rubbed me the wrong way, and I know I’m not alone in that.

  17. JP says

    Guys, are you hearing yourselves? Why so negative? It seems that you are all just jealous. I can understand your comments, but honestly, let that hatred all go…She has done so many wonderful things and it’s her perogative as to what to do with her money. Her Business skills are astounding, and i wish we were all so passionate and mission focused like her, perhaps she is trying to reach a good message to different audiences. Just keep sending her positive vibes, she seems to be the only person in television that cares about social and spiritual issues.

    If you don’t have anything nice to say, just keep it to yourself, it is after all your own unhappiness about yourself.

    Stay well my friends,


    • says

      Since this is my blog, it’s where I express my opinions. I encourage others to express theirs, too. I don’t think anyone is particularly unhappy and therefore angry with Oprah, there is just a general sense of disappointment that she is moving on from we who have been her fan base for her entire career.

      Thanks for reading and commenting – I welcome any and all opinions!

    • says

      Wow, JP. Look deeper. Speaking for myself, I feel Oprah, as fantastic a bizwoman and success as she is, is making a bad business move. It’s not emotional. It’s logic, or lack thereof.

  18. says

    Dr Phil? How can you not love him and his show?! Nothing like watching someone state the obvious to the less than intelligent. He was my daily amusement when I was too pregnant to get off my couch. Oprah though, you can keep her. Too touchy/feely.

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