It’s a changing day as Dr Phil would say (come on I’m just sticking with the Oprah theme). Please be upstanding and welcome Anna (@urchinette) to Beaut.ie – we’re absolutely delighted to have her mix of wit, wisdom and strong sense of the absurd on board! Lots of you will know her from her journalism and also from her brilliant award winning book The Real Rebecca. Take it away Anna!
If you’d told me five years ago that one day I would be delighted by the monthly arrival of a magazine with Oprah Winfrey on every cover, I’d never have believed you. It wasn’t as if I particularly disliked Oprah – in fact, I’ve kind of admired her. She’s done a lot of good things for literacy and for children’s rights. She seems like a truly decent human being. But there’s just something so earnest and self-regarding and touchy-feely about her whole persona – and something so terrifying about her diehard fans/worshipers – that always really put me off. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever sat through an entire episode of her programme.
So why do I now subscribe to O, The Oprah Magazine?
Well, the reason is that O Magazine is really good. Like, properly good. Yes, Oprah is on the cover of every issue, and on quite a few pages inside, as is her best mate, Gayle King. And yes, much of the letters page contains variations on the “Oprah is so inspiring! I can’t believe how wonderful she is! Oprah, why are you so amazingly brilliant?” theme. There’s a bit of Oprah-jargon – stuff about living your best life, having “aha! moments” when you suddenly realise something important.
But if you can ignore all that, the magazine is pretty awesome. It’s gorgeously designed, for one. It’s got really good, beautifully written features by writers that include award-winning novelists and short story writers such as Amy Bloom, features that are a lot less earnestly Oprah and a lot more witty and self-aware than you might expect. Its book pages are extensive and insightful, its beauty pages pretty but practical (it’s the only glossy I know that will actually say ‘you don’t need to buy this product’ – the power of Oprah means it’s not as dependent on beauty advertisers as other upmarket glossies) and there’s loads to read in every issue.
And it’s also – and I hate to say this, because it sounds terribly, well, Oprah-ish – uplifting. Even though it makes me roll my eyes at times, O Magazine makes me feel good. It genuinely celebrates the women it writes about (there’s a monthly page devoted to a “Woman who makes beautiful things”, from photographers to engineers to bakers). There’s none of the faux-concern for its subjects you see in Grazia (“Tragic Demi Is Painfully Thin!”). You get the feeling that O Magazine genuinely likes women, and wants them to like themselves and each other. All that and, Oprah herself aside, it’s got a sometimes wicked sense of humour (also, international subscriptions are surprisingly cheap – depending on the exchange rate, they can be under €40 a year).
So the next time you see Oprah’s beaming face on the newsagent shelf with a cheesily self-improving headline splattered across it, don’t roll your eyes. Okay, do roll your eyes. But then remember that behind the cheesy cover is a gorgeous glossy that really does feel like a treat. Try it, you may be pleasantly surprised. In fact, you might even have an “Aha! moment.”
Although I have to say, even I drew the line at the current cover with not one but two Oprahs on it. I mean, come on!