“Yeah, I love being famous. It’s almost like being white, y’know?”
― Chris Rock
While in Switzerland for her friend Tina Turner’s wedding, Oprah Winfrey opted to go shopping at Trois Pommes, a posh boutique in Zurich. While shopping she came upon a new and very chic bag — the Tom Ford “Jennifer” bag — with a retail price tag of over $38,000, which is chump change compared to the $77 million she earned just in the past year.
When Winfrey asked to see the bag, the Swiss sales assistant failed to recognize the light radiating from Winfrey’s ordained skin and didn’t realize that she was in fact The Oprah Winfrey and replied to her request with, “No, it’s too expensive.” Causing Winfrey to make this face:
The sales assistant continued to dig her hole deeper according to Oprah by adding, “No, no, no. You want to see this one because that one will cost too much you won’t be able to afford that one.”
In response to this bold and pretty racist statement, Winfrey decided against pulling her “I am Oprah” card, and instead just responded, “Okay, thank you so much. You’re probably right I can’t afford it.” (Which is a complete lie because Oprah currently makes about $9,500 a minute according to last year’s earnings, which means she would only need to stand still for 4 minutes and she could afford that bag.)
Winfrey left the store calmly after this incident, and believes that this is clear proof that racism is still an issues.
Many people around the world, including myself, are completely stumped at how someone could not recognize the Big O, because she is Oprah. But according to Winfrey’s interview the reason they probably didn’t recognize her is because The Oprah Winfrey Show is not shown in Zurich, thus she isn’t as famous there. Makes sense, I guess.
In the wake of all this mess, the Swiss Tourist Officials have become SUPER apologetic by tweeting: “We are fuming. This person acted terribly wrong. We are sorry this happened to Oprah,” completely throwing Trois Pommes under the bus. And for good reason.
However, what is most interesting is that this isn’t the first time an incident like this has happened to Winfrey.
In 2005, Winfrey was out shopping in Paris and decided to stop by one of her favorite stores at the time, Hermes, to pick up a watch before having dinner with her dear friend Tina Turner (noticing a trend?) and upon arriving 15 minutes after closing they were turned away. Winfrey claims that other customers were still inside shopping and instantly linked her rebuffing to racism from the employees of Hermes.
After this incident, Winfrey vowed to never shop at Hermes again. And after both of these incidents we can see that racism isn’t just a “thing” that happens to the non-rich, but it’s something that can and will happen to anyone, Oprah Winfrey included. Especially if you do anything that involves Tina Turner in any way, shape, or form.