I’ve Changed My Mind About Oprah

Every month, her lovely face beams from the cover of O, The Oprah Magazine.

Her own face. Every. Single. Month.

I’ve judged her for this. (And you have to.)

I don’t NEED to understand her decision. It’s her empire, and she can pose if she wants to.

But I wonder, what is the reason?

I’ve thought about this for at least an hour over the last several years, but today, it happened. I discovered her secret.

It started off as a typical day. I logged into every domain I own to update WordPress plugins… again. I checked my bank account and quickly said a prayer to Jesus.

I plopped my head in my hands when I remembered it’s Thursday, and I didn’t post a blog entry again this week.

It’s not too late, right? I have a handful of partial posts ready to be polished, and Seth Godin says I should just ship it!

So as I worked on a post on emotional energy reserves compared to the phenomena of black holes, I realized I’d have to find a palatable stock photo at this late hour to finish up the post.

It’s just a 940x788 photo to use as a featured image. No big deal.

I’ll check my stealth list of good stock photo sites.

Wait, people have found these sites. NO. These were a secret!

I wanted to use that shot of the hipster girl in jeans sitting casually on a stool with a backdrop of distressed wood flooring!

Why is this happening to me?! The masses have discovered Unsplash and Death to the Stock Photo!

Fine. Go ahead and market your great picture sharing services! I can cope with this betrayal.

Maybe I should ask a friend to shoot a roll of pictures of ME around town, and then I can use those photos without cost or attribution! Ha! How about that?! That will solve this angst!

And then it hit me.

Oprah has been here too. She is like me.

She has experienced that late-night need for an image that illustrates how to take a leap and love where you land. An image conveying the need to trust your gut because you know what’s best.

The need for an image for her magazine cover. Every. single. month.

She’s felt that disappointment when you realize your choices again fall to the hairy, male hand pointing at a bunch of floating puzzle pieces… or the mountain climber atop a stone peak with this hands in the air. (And all for the bargain price of $30 dollars.)

Judgments about those beautiful O magazine covers dissipated as understanding spread within me.

Oprah knows this pain. She too has suffered from what I call stockphotophobia.

Oprah has viewed 467 pictures of “happy + strong + women” with bloodshot eyes in the eternal search for original, aesthetically-pleasing stock photography.

She has found the perfect Unsplash shot that captures the joy of cleaning one’s soul and one’s closet. And then had her dreams crushed when that hand-picked image pops up on Facebook beside an article on how to organize your closet like Kylie Jenner.

She foresaw the months spanning in front of her of cover after cover in need of artwork and empowered herself to produce original cover images exactly how she wants them to appear for her magazine.

One-of-a-kind covers featuring her lovely face.

And now, she won’t have to stumble upon her cover image being used to illustrate how to choose your NCAA March Madness picks using this season’s Pantone colors.

Oprah, I get it now. You took control of your brand.

And I salute you.

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Metsy Corter is the founder of Metsy Corter Consulting. Using the study of human behaviors and motivators, Metsy transforms businesses one person at a time through coaching, team training and hiring assessments. She teaches others to read external cues and adapt to create fast, heart-centered connections. She geeks out over the intersection of culture and branding. As a former web developer, it is fitting that her name autocorrects to Nerdy.

Originally posted to metsy.com.