Oprah Winfrey's Complete Transformation, From Weight Watchers To Ozempic

Since the launch of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and her breakthrough acting role in "The Color Purple," Oprah Winfrey has long been a beloved, inspirational icon. Not only is she the first Black American woman to own her own production company and the wealthiest Black woman in the United States, but Winfrey is also a philanthropist, an Emmy Award–winning talk show host, and an Academy Award–nominated actor. She continues to deliver the message that you can create your own reality and better the world around you. Essentially, she's the picture of success, and it seems like there's nothing Winfrey can't accomplish.


And yet, over the course of her career, the influential figure has found herself under public scrutiny for something far less relevant: her weight. The idol has been open about her body journey and her struggle with shame throughout her entire career. "It was public sport to make fun of me for 25 years," Winfrey told People. "I have been blamed and shamed, and I blamed and shamed myself." She was known as the face of Weight Watchers for almost a decade until she stepped down in 2024 — and she also stood up to the stigma surrounding weight loss medications, asking her doctor for a prescription. Here's a look at Winfrey's self-image transformation through the years.

1985-1991: Oprah makes a name for herself

Fans who've followed Oprah Winfrey's career from the beginning will forever recognize her as Sofia Johnson in Steven Spielberg's 1985 film "The Color Purple," based on the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel of the same name by Alice Walker. This era for Winfrey was just the start of something grand and expansive. In 1986, she established "The Oprah Winfrey Show," which would air for the next 25 years, solidifying herself as a household name. Winfrey's image during this time was that of a confident, strong woman paving the way for herself. She would often be seen in furs and sequins on red carpets as her career blossomed.


However, we'd later get a behind-the-scenes look at the icon's inner struggle with body image and early fans will also recall her 1988 on-stage moment, where she wheeled out a wagon of animal fat, 67 pounds to be exact, to represent the weight she had lost on a liquid diet. Winfrey would later express regret over the spectacle and the glorification of weight loss, instead embracing an attitude of body positivity moving forward.

1992-1994: Oprah is luminous and gains the loyalty of fans

In the early to mid-'90s, Oprah Winfrey gained the loyalty and respect of fans when she vowed to keep her talk show free of shock-factor gossip, as many other talk shows began to resemble the tabloids. And photos from this era will show a luminous and savvy media sage — whose shape also happens to transform swiftly, likely a result of the self-described yo-yo dieting she put herself through. 


"I can look at a picture from any period of my life, and the first thing that comes to mind is not the event or experience, but my weight and size, because that is how I've viewed (and judged) myself — through the prism of numbers. But I've given up scale-watching — letting a number determine how I see myself and whether I'm worthy of a good day," Winfrey wrote in O, the Oprah Magazine, addressing the impact of diet culture on body image

1995-1999: Oprah continues to make waves and shows her strength

Oprah Winfrey's image would continue to transform and morph as her career expanded and her success grew. It's also during this time that Winfrey would launch the much-adored book club on her show and inspire viewers everywhere to delve into novels and foster a love of reading — in addition to majorly boosting sales for authors and landing their novels spots on bestseller lists. We see a glowing go-getter in this era and Winfrey appears strong and healthy.


In 1996, Winfrey hired a personal trainer, Bob Greene, asserting that the days of crash dieting were now behind her. She would later ask spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson about her struggle with weight loss, to which Willamson responded, "Until you accept the magnitude of your function, your unconscious mind will sabotage any attempt to show your full magnificence. In fact, if you diet and lose weight, your mind will either put the weight back on or trip up in some other area. In order to lose weight on a permanent basis, you want a shift in your belief about who and what you are. This is the miracle you seek," (via O, The Oprah Magazine).

2000-2014: Oprah takes more guidance from spiritual teachers on body image

Looking back to the turn of the century, the world enjoyed the beginning of Oprah Winfrey's publication, O, The Oprah Magazine in 2000. The magazine would remain in print for 20 years, until shifting to an online-only presence. What's more, she would go on to have several mega moments in her career from 2000 to 2014, including winning the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award, becoming the world's first Black female billionaire, and interviewing Barack Obama. She would continue to explore the spiritual realms of body image during this era, too, shifting to a broader perspective of being in a body.


"After spending the past 10 weeks in class with Eckhart Tolle, studying his book 'A New Earth,' I know for sure that I am not my body. I feel more connected to consciousness, or soul, or inner spirit — whatever you choose to name the formless being that is the essence of who we are. I think of all the years I've wasted hating myself fat, wanting myself thin," Winfrey wrote in the June 2008 issue of O, the Oprah Magazine.

2015-2024: The Weight Watchers era

2015 marked the beginning of the Weight Watchers era for Oprah Winfrey, and the collaboration was formed in hopes of guiding others toward a healthier lifestyle. "Weight Watchers has given me the tools to begin to make the lasting shift that I and so many of us who are struggling with weight have longed for," Winfrey said of the partnership (via Weight Watchers). "I believe in the program so much I decided to invest in the company and partner in its evolution."


The partnership would last nearly a decade — until her departure in 2024 — and during this time, Winfrey would share her experiences with the program and counting points. She described Weight Watchers as a program that gave her the freedom to enjoy the foods she loved while remaining aware of her intake and opting for healthier offerings. "I leave the table feeling satisfied — and to me, that's far more important than any number on the scale. Though as I write this, I have to say: Nearing the 45-pound weight loss mark is a great feeling!," Winfrey wrote in the April 2017 issue of O, the Oprah Magazine.

2024-present: Oprah speaks on her experience with weight-loss medication

In "An Oprah Special: Shame, Blame and the Weight Loss Revolution," which aired on ABC in 2024, Oprah Winfrey addressed obesity as a disease and explored the use of weight-loss medication."For the people who think that this could be the relief and support and freedom that you've been looking for your whole life, bless you because there's space for all points of view," Winfrey said on the special, taking a compassionate and open-minded stance on the topic (via Today). 


At 70 years old, Winfrey appears healthy — and noticeably slimmer — on the program where she emotionally recalled her journey with body image and the transformational ride she's been on over the years. She went on to address the stigma and use of weight-loss medications, like the diabetes drug Ozempic, which comes with its fair share of potential side effects. She offered a possibly divisive perspective on these kinds of medications that some might not yet be prepared to digest. In an interview with People, Winfrey said, "The fact that there's a medically approved prescription for managing weight and staying healthier, in my lifetime, feels like relief, like redemption, like a gift, and not something to hide behind and once again be ridiculed for. I'm absolutely done with the shaming from other people and particularly myself."