O, or The Oprah Magazine for the purposes of not getting it mixed up with some German bondage smut, was launched in 2000 as a companion magazine to the Oprah show. If you know the talk show, you know what to expect here: some big celebrities, a lot of dubiously effective self help talk, some weird and intense whiplash between selfless altruism and luxury brand promotion, and lots of Oprah herself.
This was the magazine’s first year, and I wonder if they started out not intending to put Oprah on every single cover. Oh, who am I kidding?
Usual profuse apologies for the return of my old nemesis: glossy pages, which go a long way in making a magazine look high quality, but boy howdy do I hate the glare.
I’m gonna pander shamelessly and include every page with a puppy or kitten on it, Just so you know.
Nothing in this magazine doesn’t look extremely cheap. Something that I never really noticed about the early 2000s is that the choice of fonts for ads is more often than not just ugly as hell. The high-end beauty industry is built almost entirely on packaging – would you spend something in the neighborhood of $30 for a bottle of scent spray that looked like that?
Featuring Sarah Jessica Parker as a Second Life avatar…
Oh, right, the age of cramming as many designer logos onto one surface as possible. WE GET IT, YOU PAID TOO MUCH FOR YOUR UGLY SHOES. Hwoooo. Breathe in, breathe out. Focus on the cute doggie. Covered in designer logos. I hope the dog peed on that thing.
This was also the era when people started calling Target “tar-zhay”.
Speaking of words that I learned from watching Tyra, Buffy needs to work on her smizing. This is just wholly uncomfortable.
“You don’t need money to have a generous spirit”, says the woman who in less than 20 pages from now will try to sell me a $795 faux-fur blanket.
Oh hi, Dr. Phil. Lovely to see you. Dr. Phil first started showing up on Oprah in 1998, so at this point he was still just That Southern Guy Who Yells At People On Oprah and he had only just started to stretch his greasy tentacles out into celebrity doctor hucksterism.
Lady, if you have to ask Dr. Phil if your fiancée showering with his teenage daughter is a red flag…yeesh.
This is how you sold people on your websites in the year 2000. It is just abysmally ugly.
Ooh it’s a twofer of dead pointless gadgets! Head over to www.mailstation.com RIGHT NOW!
Lady, you are sitting around waiting for your toenails to dry. You are not doing jack shit. JUST BUY A PC. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU. Maybe they included this ad because they liked that she was drying her feet on an issue of Mademoiselle, and Oprah wanted to send a sly message to her competitors.
Does anyone miss Borders? I do not. Support your local independent bookstore!
Bombay Company, on the other hand…I miss Bombay Company a lot. This was my dream store of tacky-glamorous expensive stuff, and I used to daydream about being a rich lady who would just sweep into Bombay Company and wave my diamond-encrusted hand in the general direction of whatever opulent bedroom set or giraffe-shaped floor lamp or fancy globe that I wanted (THERE WAS AN ENTIRE WALL OF FANCY GLOBES), and purr “I’ll have this delivered to my Christmas home, you know the one.”
I’m 99% sure that I have the jewelry box pictured under the tree, or at least its slightly smaller and pudgier cousin, in which I stored my plastic eyeball rings and earrings from Claire’s. 16 year old me was class personified.
I like the idea of a rich person just having a forgotten closet full of bottles of $60 chardonnay and $90 pound cake, in case they feel that they should have a gift on hand at anytime. Or just a whole box of that one album by Sting.
“Mrs. Mahoney gave me Brand New Day for some reason after I watched her chinchilla over the weekend.”
“Oh, that means she likes you. I have four of those. Sam Goody won’t buy them back from me anymore.”
“Grandma Laurie’s ‘tree of hands’ always gave us the creeps, but we never let her know that.”
I snark, but really – given the level of emotional obliviousness that we’ve seen in other magazines from the past, I’m glad that there’s something out there that’s making the effort to address things like mental health and grief and stress and everything else that people normally experience during a busy and taxing period of the year.
She’s serving perfect year 2000 beauty, but good god that top is hideous.
These are actual gift tags that you can tear out and attach to your gifts. I get the intention, but you have to be on a stratospheric level of self-absorbed if you can’t just hand someone a Christmas present without being compelled to remind them how great it is to give a gift.
I couldn’t find a trailer in English. I think this makes it better, actually.
And here’s the part where O goes completely off the rails in the most delightfully tone-deaf billionaire media mogul way.
The dogs pictured are not dogs belonging to Oprah, surprisingly, but she does give a shout out to Sophie. Anyone need a good cry?
After surviving several health complications, including chemotherapy and a tumor removal, Sophie slept by Oprah’s side every night and never missed a day’s work for 13 years.Oprah said this cocker spaniel was “one of the reasons for me to be a kinder, gentler person.
I HATE it when Montecito gets $215 doggy bagel crumbs on her Burberry sweater!
Jim Dratfield’s Petography is so proud of that photo that it remains on their About page (in far more striking high-detail than what year 2000 print standards could deliver). His website doesn’t list today’s prices for photography sessions, because honaaaay if you have to ask you can’t afford it.
Just soak in the whole caption.
Reminder that these are all things that Oprah herself has curated for you to buy. For yourself. Or your baby. WHY.
Jeeves, should I buy a box of cake mix and thing of frosting for about $5, or should I order this ridiculously pretentious Hungarian dobostorte delivered by next-day mail for about $75?
“I AM SORRY, I AM NOT INSURED AGAINST STUPID QUESTIONS”
Maya Angelou! She’s great. I miss her.
I’m including this whole interview because it is lovely and feels like a hug to read.
Angelou even name-drops my favorite book, The Good Earth.
“So, Linda seems nice. How did you two meet?”
“At the Tampax Total Tour in Memphis. We got to talking between the poetry and Zumba sets. She’s teaching me so much about raptivism!”
Or, you know, if you can’t afford caviar and smoked salmon potato spoons for your holiday party, just a big old vase of jelly beans will work just as well. Especially after everyone has sifted their germ-covered bare hands through the whole thing just to pick out the cherry ones!
It was a legit status item to get that big candy box of Jelly Bellies for Christmas.. The cool girls would take theirs to school and share with their friends.
I find this image very unsettling.
“Here Brenda, I got you this $200 patent leather coin purse because I thought you needed something egregiously tacky in your life.”
“I haven’t been paid in six weeks. Can you talk to HR for me, since you’re my boss? No one’s answering. I don’t think anyone works here anymore.”
Which tacky-ass ring do you like? I like the peridot. I would happily keep that in my Bombay Company jewelry box next to my plastic eyeball rings.
Today on Oprah, we’re talking about “Is this a thoughtful gesture, or is this basic fucking decency? Do you deserve to feel good about yourself for the simple act of not being a dick? Up next, Doctor Phil.”
“Please get me the hell out of here” — Mildred the poodle
I do love this. It appears totally without warning and context in the middle of the issue. When you’re Oprah, you can legit put whatever you want in your magazine, and if you want to suddenly throw people into imagining their happy place, that’s what you’re gonna do.
PUT A KITTEN ON YOUR HEAD
JUST DO IT
DON’T QUESTION OPRAH
Early 2000’s party food is not nearly the horror show we’re used to with these old magazines, even if they do seem a little random. I remember goat cheese being the haute food of the new millennium. Kinda weird that you would encase it in a different kind of cheese instead of just a cracker, but one cannot be extra enough when it comes to the holidays.
There were so many Borders ads in this issue. I do have great memories of paging slowly through that beautiful Kevin Aucoin book because I loved it but I didn’t actually want to buy it. Maybe I’m the reason why they went under.
If you ever have a choice in packaging between cat illustration or cat photo…go with cat photo. This is why. That is not a good design for that bag, especially when contrasted with an actual picture of a cat that only highlights the difference in…whatever is happening with the bag cat’s face.
What? Moderately priced touchy-feely gift suggestions for once? Fire this woman!
Remember when “cool” fonts all looked like ransom notes cut out of other magazines?
I kind of love this ad and how they made it look seamlessly like a fashion editorial by listing the price of the clothes.
Calling a French cocktail a “Guillotini” is delightfully morbid. Also here’s that recipe for caviar and potato spoons, in case you feel like impressing people Oprah style at your holiday office party this year.
…what are Smashing Pumpkins doing on a Christmas album?
In which Oprah tears off half of her cloak to save a man who was freezing, much like the parable of Saint Martin of Tours. He probably would just have appreciated you buying some of his newspapers, you know.
You all know I’m a sucker for Chanel ads.
And that’s it for this week! Thank you for reading, and I wish you all good tidings of comfort and joy. We’ve got one left to close out the month, and that will be circling back to the domestic sphere with Family Circle, December 1962!