O's Heavy-Skinny Oprah Cover Shows Weight Contrast

At 200 pounds, she wanted "to put it out there" on cover and in essay.

ByABC News via logo
December 9, 2008, 8:18 AM

Dec. 10, 2008 — -- When Oprah Winfrey decided to go public about her latest weight gain, she didn't hold anything back and suggested to the editors of her magazine, O, "Why don't we just put my fat butt on the cover?"

And so, Winfrey's 200-pound self was posed next to a picture of her skinnier self from three years ago.

The talk show queen is talking about her latest tumble off the diet wagon and "Good Morning America" showed a clip today from Winfrey's Jan. 5 show that will be all about weight.

In the clip, Winfrey discusses how the O cover came about.

"When we first started to discuss what we would do for the magazine cover for January, I said, 'Why don't we just tell the truth? Why don't we just but my fat butt on the cover? Why don't we just shoot that?'" she said.

The country's most famous yo-yo dieter says that admitting you have blown the diet is a ">necessary step.

"I've gained 40 pounds in the past year," she said. "It's OK with me. Part of getting back on track is you have to accept where you are right now in order to move forward."

According to Gayle King, O's editor at large and Winfrey's best friend, it was Winfrey's idea to put her whole body on the cover of O next to a much skinnier picture of herself from 2005.

"We were trying to figure out what to do for January and she said, 'You know what I think we're going to do? We're going to take our cover from 2005 and shoot me the way I am now and put them side by side,'" King told "GMA." "She said 'I have eyes. Everyone can see what is happening to me. Let's put it out there.'"

The cover and a brutally honest essay, which will appear in the January issue of O Magazine, chronicles her struggle with an out-of-balance thyroid and how the condition gave her a "fear of working out." Winfrey says that instead of trying to lose weight, her goal is to be strong, healthy and fit.

Winfrey had slimmed down to 160 pounds in 2006, but in the O confession, she said she had eaten her way to an additional 40 pounds.

"Yes, you're adding correctly. That means the dreaded 2-0-0," Winfrey wrote.

"I was so frustrated I started eating whatever I wanted," Winfrey wrote. "That's never good."

"The fact that it's happened to her again is very stunning," King said.

Winfrey isn't content with just writing about her weight gain. She will talk about it too, a lot.

Besides the Jan. 5 episode of her show, Winfrey will also discuss her weight on "The Gayle King Show" Jan. 5 on XM Satellite. And she will host interactive live webcasts at Oprah.com the week of Jan. 12 to 16 every night at 9 ET.

America's favorite talk show host has famously struggled with weight gain from her earliest days on television.

"This is not Oprah's first rodeo," King said. "She's gained weight, lost weight, gained weight, lost weight. When she's ready to lose weight she will."

In 1988, she wore a slim pair of Calvin Klein jeans as she wheeled a wagon loaded with fat onto her set to show the 67 pounds that she had lost then.

"I had literally starved myself for four months -- not a morsel of food," Winfrey said in 2005. "Two hours after that show, I started eating to celebrate -- of course, within two days those jeans no longer fit!"

She regained the weight within two years and claimed she would never diet again.

Winfrey has shared her struggles on her show in the last 20 years. She finished a Marine Corps marathon but then topped the scales at 237 pounds.

Of her latest dietary flop, she wrote, "I definitely wasn't setting an example. I was talking the talk, but I wasn't walking the walk. And that was very disappointing to me."

With weeks before President-elect Obama's historic presidency begins, Winfrey says she still wonders what she'll wear to the inaugural ball.

"I had a dress on the vision board, but I'm not sure that's going to fit," she said. "So I have to work on something else."

The reaction to the announcement of O Magazine's January issue has already been "really huge," King said.