As I was watching the first interview that Oprah did with Whitney Houston today, I found myself wondering about how women in our society deal with power. She portrays herself as the loyal wife but was it loyalty or fear of stepping into her real power, power that comes not from the media and the fans but from the feminine – her own soul. Did it just become too much to live up to as a symbol for young black women? Was bad boy Bobby Brown a self self sabotaging way out of the limelight? Although Oprah seems very comfortable with her iconic status, she continues to struggle with her food addiction. The limelight has become more like a vast flashlight projected by a harsh inquisitor.
If anything has come from the deaths of Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, and Ted Kennedy is the toll that drugs and alcohol can take. People thought
Dave Chappelle was crazy because he walked away from 50 million dollars and went to Africa. We are a fame driven society and when someone famous thumbs their nose at that much success, we call them crazy. That is real power. To know when you are losing yourself and to be willing to walk away from it without self destruction and re-invent your life on your own terms is real power.
Chappelle may not name it feminine power but it is feminine power. No matter what sex you are, when you listen to your body, your gut instinct no matter what the cost, you are accessing your authentic self. In Jungian psychology, the body is feminine and the mind is the masculine part of all human beings. I actually hope Andy Warhol’s famous prophesy that everyone would be famous for fifteen minutes comes true. Perhaps if enough people experience the dark side of fame, we’ll stop worshipping them as icons and more air time will be given to the people who are genuinely committed to an authentic expression of themselves and who are too busy making a difference in other people’s lives to sit around smoking cocaine and weed.Whitney Houston’s passion for Bobby Brown is a great cautionary tale.
We need icons like Martin Luther King in the limelight now more than ever. Oprah can’t carry the humanitarian banner for celebrities of iconic status alone. The weight of IT is probably what contributes to her own weight issues. But the truth is for us ordinary folks, the best way into recovery from addiction is to become passionate about yourself with yourself in moments of daily silence. That is real intimacy, the real power.
Dr. Toni Galardi is the author of The LifeQuake Phenomenon: How to Thrive not Just Survive in Times of Personal and Global Upheaval.