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Melissa Harris-Perry has a great point about Oprah’s new weight loss ad.

She isn't the biggest fan of Oprah's new commercial.

Melissa Harris-Perry has a great point about Oprah’s new weight loss ad.

Last week, Melissa Harris-Perry was "a bit distressed" by a new commercial featuring Oprah Winfrey.

The MSNBC host responded to a recent TV ad Winfrey did for Weight Watchers after Winfrey bought a 10% stake in the weight-loss company last year.

While Harris-Perry was quick to note she certainly wishes Winfrey a successful 2016 — even if that means achieving the goal of shedding a few pounds — Harris-Perry took issue with one particular message within the ad, specifically, the part where Winfrey says that "inside every overweight woman is a woman she knows she can be."


“I’m thinking to myself — but O, you are already precisely the woman so many are striving to be," Harris-Perry said during the open segment of her show.

GIFs via Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC.

Harris-Perry said she certainly understands why many women, especially those in the spotlight, struggle with body issues because she's been there, too.

"I know that your struggle with weight has been long and often personally painful," Harris-Perry said in her open letter to Winfrey. "And having spent my 30s gaining and losing a few dress sizes more than few times, I get it."

But still...

GIFs via Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC.

As Harris-Perry pointed out, none of Winfrey's many achievements have anything to do with her weight.

The whole segment is definitely worth watching below, but here's an especially powerful snippet (emphasis added):

"From surviving childhood poverty and sexual abuse, you have become one of the most influential humans on the planet. You have Emmys and awards and honors almost too numerous to count. You not only are the first and only black American woman to make the Forbes' billionaire list, you consistently rank among the most generous philanthropists in the world. Sister, you made the wealth, and you share it like no other black woman ever has. With a nod, you can generate a best-seller, launch a career, even help elect a president...

Who you are, what you have accomplished, how you have influenced and altered the world is all so much more important than your dress size. There is not one thing that you have done that would have been more extraordinary if you’d done it with a 25-inch waist."

Harris-Perry is on to something. Because not only should someone's size be irrelevant to their self-worth, it's not even necessarily relevant to their physical health.

Don't take my word for it, though — listen to Linda Bacon, Ph.D. She's a researcher and author of the new book, "Body Respect," and well-versed in weight-regulation science.

Bacon told Upworthy that, despite a lot of commonly held notions, you can't tell much about an individual's health simply by looking at their waistline.

"Even the heavily entrenched idea that heavier people eat more than thinner people isn’t supported by data," Bacon explained.

If size isn't even necessarily indicative of one's personal health — let alone their success — it shouldn't be a factor that drags Winfrey down. And it certainly shouldn't be a factor for anyone who isn't Oprah, either.

The Weight Watchers ad was personal for Harris-Perry because she knows young people are paying attention.

The host's daughter shares the same birthday as Winfrey, and that means the new Weight Watchers ad hit especially close to home.

"I regularly remind [my daughter] that sharing a birthday with you means she’s especially obligated to strive toward greatness," she said. "And I worry as a mom, and as a woman, about the messages our daughters receive if they think a woman as phenomenal as you is still not enough unless she is thin.”

GIFs via Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC.

Bottom line? Your success and worth have nothing to do with a number on a scale. And that includes you, Oprah.

Check out the whole segment below.

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Judy Vaughan has spent most of her life helping other women, first as the director of House of Ruth, a safe haven for homeless families in East Los Angeles, and later as the Project Coordinator for Women for Guatemala, a solidarity organization committed to raising awareness about human rights abuses.

But in 1996, she decided to take things a step further. A house became available in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles and she was offered the opportunity to use it to help other women and children. So, in partnership with a group of 13 people who she knew from her years of activism, she decided to make it a transitional residence program for homeless women and their children. They called the program Alexandria House.

"I had learned from House of Ruth that families who are homeless are often isolated from the surrounding community," Judy says. "So we decided that as part of our mission, we would also be a neighborhood center and offer a number of resources and programs, including an after-school program and ESL classes."

She also decided that, unlike many other shelters in Los Angeles, she would accept mothers with their teenage boys.

"There are very few in Los Angeles [that do] due to what are considered liability issues," Judy explains. "Given the fact that there are (conservatively) 56,000 homeless people and only about 11,000 shelter beds on any one night, agencies can be selective on who they take."

Their Board of Directors had already determined that they should take families that would have difficulties finding a place. Some of these challenges include families with more than two children, immigrant families without legal documents, moms who are pregnant with other small children, families with a member who has a disability [and] families with service dogs.

"Being separated from your son or sons, especially in the early teen years, just adds to the stress that moms who are unhoused are already experiencing," Judy says.

"We were determined to offer women with teenage boys another choice."

Courtesy of Judy Vaughan

Alexandria House also doesn't kick boys out when they turn 18. For example, Judy says they currently have a mom with two daughters (21 and 2) and a son who just turned 18. The family had struggled to find a shelter that would take them all together, and once they found Alexandria House, they worried the boy would be kicked out on his 18th birthday. But, says Judy, "we were not going to ask him to leave because of his age."

Homelessness is a big issue in Los Angeles. "[It] is considered the homeless capital of the United States," Judy says. "The numbers have not changed significantly since 1984 when I was working at the House of Ruth." The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the problem. According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), over 66,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area were experiencing homelessness in 2020, representing a rise of 12.7% compared with the year before.

Each woman who comes to Alexandria House has her own unique story, but some common reasons for ending up homeless include fleeing from a domestic violence or human trafficking situation, aging out of foster care and having no place to go, being priced out of an apartment, losing a job, or experiencing a family emergency with no 'cushion' to pay the rent.

"Homelessness is not a definition; it is a situation that a person finds themselves in, and in fact, it can happen to almost anyone. There are many practices and policies that make it almost impossible to break out of poverty and move out of homelessness."

And that's why Alexandria House exists: to help them move out of it. How long that takes depends on the woman, but according to Judy, families stay an average of 10 months. During that time, the women meet with support staff to identify needs and goals and put a plan of action in place.

A number of services are provided, including free childcare, programs and mentoring for school-age children, free mental health counseling, financial literacy classes and a savings program. They have also started Step Up Sisterhood LA, an entrepreneurial program to support women's dreams of starting their own businesses. "We serve as a support system for as long as a family would like," Judy says, even after they have moved on.

And so far, the program is a resounding success.

92 percent of the 200 families who stayed at Alexandria House have found financial stability and permanent housing — not becoming homeless again.

Since founding Alexandria House 25 years ago, Judy has never lost sight of her mission to join with others and create a vision of a more just society and community. That is why she is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year — and the donation she receives as a nominee will go to Alexandria House and will help grow the new Start-up Sisterhood LA program.

"Alexandria House is such an important part of my life," says Judy. "It has been amazing to watch the children grow up and the moms recreate their lives for themselves and for their families. I have witnessed resiliency, courage, and heroic acts of generosity."

When Black Lives Matter protests arose around the country following the murder of George Floyd last year, many people wondered if the U.S. had crossed a threshold. Though protests over police brutality and racial bias in our criminal justice system had been happening for decades, the movement had never been so widespread or supported by so many. George Floyd's murder being caught on film on the heels of Ahmad Arbery's killing, Breonna Taylor's killing, in addition so many others, led to the largest civil rights movement since the 1960s.

The prior movement, which culminated with the passing of the Civil Rights Act, brought changes to our laws—a vital step toward liberty and justice for all. Despite considerable backlash at the time, that act cut the visible weed of government-sanctioned racism off at the surface and ultimately changed the social acceptance of legal racial discrimination.

Jim Crow laws that blatantly protected and defended racial oppression seem archaic and wrong to most Americans now—but it's important to remember that that change of heart was hard-won by civil rights activists at the expense of their own safety, security, and in some cases, their lives. It's also important to acknowledge that while the Civil Rights Act marked an important turning point in this country, it didn't fix the problem at its root.

The roots of racism run deep, and digging up any root system is messy, back-breaking work. And that work is made even more difficult when a good percentage of the country says, "I don't see it" simply because the visible part of the weed was cut down when the Civil Rights Act passed.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.