Confessor and comforter, Oprah Winfrey has made many of us healthier, happier and smarter since her eponymous show began 25 years ago.
Media analysts may ponder the superstar’s impact on the culture with her final show airing on Wednesday, but for New Yorkers, Oprah’s impact is personal.
Her thoughtful, personal treatment of often sensitive topics has helped people accept their flaws, understand those of others, and armed viewers with the courage and resources to solve, rather than wallow in, their problems.
Oprah destigmatized physical and psychological issues from thyroid malfunction and menopause to depression, said Vicki Sander, a singer from Gramercy Park.
“She helped you understand your suffering is not unique,” and empowered viewers to insist on better treatment from health care providers, she said. By sharing her struggle to overcome childhood molestation “without being victimy,” Oprah modeled a constructive way to cope with adversity, Sander said..
Rob Goldberg, 33, would never have picked up “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini, had Oprah not suggested it.
“She promotes literacy,” noted the Ronkonkama project manager. Television’s daytime diva is also an invaluable curator of information for older people, said Goldberg, noting “my mother is now using a neti pot because of some segment by Dr. Oz.”
And Oprah’s candidly shared battle with the bulge demonstrated that you don’t have to be perfect to be successful, noted Justine Rogoff, 25, of Chelsea. “Her weight goes up and down and she’s one of the most important women in the world,” noted the teacher, who also lauded the host for taking on the meat industry.