Virginia Bianco-Mathis
University professor, author

Virginia Bianco-Mathis

Business department chair of management programs at Marymount University and author of two books on executive coaching.


Outside looking in

Q: How hard is it to stay grounded when you've had as much success as Oprah? Kitty Kelley's new biography discusses her charitable giving and her big-time indulgences. Should anyone begrudge her $500 mink eyelashes or $365,000 Bentley? And why do we love reading about the foibles of the rich and famous?

I am not surprised when someone of Oprah's level of success exhibits certain entitlement behaviors. When you are surrounded by that much attention, watched by millions of eyes, and rushed through triple the number of activities than the average human, taking on a few protective indulgences seems logical and imperative in order to maintain a certain amount of equilibrium.

Though mink eyelashes and Bentleys are a bit over the top for my status in the world, I'm willing to turn my head upon viewing Oprah's charitable giving to friends, strangers, causes, employees, and social issues. I think the Oprah "story" (poor and abusive upbringing, powerful passion for getting ahead, hard work and mindful use of genuine interpersonal talent) is a wonderful rags to riches story deserving respect.

I don't know Oprah and it is often difficult to separate truth from fiction. If we are to believe the information in Kitty Kelley's book, Oprah does possess some troubling characteristics. Verbally attacking people out of frustration, referring to oneself in the third person, and refusing to climb up stairs sound like symptoms of egomania. Whether Oprah suffers from temper tantrums or more severe personality disorders, only she and those closest to her would know. Barbara Streisand once said, "Don't envy me. I have my own problems." Like most of us, I'm sure Oprah is haunted by her own demons and these "less than stellar" behaviors do not serve her well.

In the end, we love reading about the rich and famous because they are larger than life. Mink eyelashes? Disgusting! Yelled at a storekeeper? Despicable! We love it because it provides entertainment, freedom to gossip about a known entity, the opportunity to pass judgment on someone else, and an exciting voyeurism into the highs and lows of someone who is living in the limelight.

By Virginia Bianco-Mathis  |  April 22, 2010; 12:01 AM ET  | Category:  The lush life Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Too many toys | Next: Oprah isn't perfect??


Please report offensive comments below.

No one is perfect. I am a nice person most of the time, but sometimes I can display disagreeable characteristics.

Oprah is a human being who has good and bad days. We should not expect her to be any less of a human being because of her financial status.

Oprah's giving, excess, or alleged tantrums aren't the problem. The problem is that people worship celebrities and expect them to be God-like just because they have achieved success.

Live and let live.

Posted by: syvetteavery | April 26, 2010 11:47 AM
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