Honestly, I didn’t expect to be this emotional about the end of a TV show. I typically work in the afternoon so I haven’t been a regular viewer of The Oprah Winfrey Show for years. But I’ve made it a point to record and watch these final shows. Like many people, I have cried my way through most of them.
What amazing impact this one woman has had on the world. She has shown us, over and over again, through both her own example and those whose stories she has brought to our attention, that we each have the power to overcome the challenges we encounter. Using television to it’s highest possible potential, she showed us we can learn from our life lessons and, in the process, choose to make a difference!
I have been touched by Oprah, as both a viewer and as a guest on her show. In 1992 I was a journalist. I had just produced a series of news reports on the newly named Binge Eating Disorder. I had a phone conversation with a former colleague of mine who was working as a producer on The Oprah Show. She said Oprah was about to do a show about emotional and binge eating. Next thing I knew I was sitting on the Oprah set with Oprah and six other women. We had all struggled with binge eating.
There was no audience. We talked and taped for three hours, all about our complicated relationship with food. Oprah told us this was the very first time she had ever spoken about her emotional and binge eating. It was an intimate and intense discussion. We were all so excited about sharing similar stories and about feeling understood, that we were all talking a mile a minute. Apparently we were all finishing each other’s sentences. So much so that the director stopped the taping very soon after we started and asked us all to slow down a bit. He was afraid he was going to have trouble editing the final show down to an hour.
My two appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, two weeks in a row, changed the direction of my life. Response to my news series and the Oprah Shows was remarkable. (They call that “The Oprah Effect”. It is remarkable!) People wanted more! So I started doing more research into binge eating disorder. Within one month from the airing of the Oprah Shows I was doing free seminars at two local hospitals (similar to the Free Telephone Seminars I do today). Still, people asked for and needed more than information. Next, I connected with a few clinicians and we started treating people in Cincinnati in the Spring of 1993.
Thank you Oprah! You have touched my life and, in turn, helped me touch the lives of many others. As I write this, you have just one more Oprah Winfrey Show to go. I just may have to break down and get cable TV, just so I can watch you on OWN.
Ellen Shuman is a Life Coach who specializes in emotional and binge eating recovery. She is the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Eating Disorder Treatment, Vice President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA), and Co-Chair of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, firstname.lastname@example.org