Each month, The Fine Line features a special guest — a woman who embraces her age and lives life to the fullest. This month, we welcome Robin McGraw. At 63, McGraw is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She’s also a philanthropist, entrepreneur, and two-time New York Times best-selling author. What’s more, she’s an inspiration to millions of women around the world, including us.
Robin McGraw has never missed a taping of Dr. Phil. Since 2002, for more than 2,500 episodes of the successful syndicated daytime talk show featuring the sage advice and interventions of her husband of 40 years, McGraw has been in the audience, at times contributing to the show, and walking off hand-in-hand with Dr. Phil at the end of every episode. When the show first aired and women began to notice her obvious devotion not only to her husband but also to herself, they began to wonder: What’s up with that?
Show producers took notice of something else: the thousands of letters and emails addressed to Robin McGraw pouring in. Curious women all over the country wanted to know how McGraw, who was 48 when the show launched, managed to look and seemingly feel so healthy and vibrant. The tiny brunette with toned limbs and tailored dresses was clearly doing more than a few things right. She absolutely glowed, and producers wanted to give McGraw a platform to share more than just her bright smile.
McGraw was reluctant at first. “When the producers came to me about being on the show, I said, ‘I am only here to support my husband. I am not an expert,’” she recalls. She eventually agreed, however, to contribute in areas where she could be authentic and authoritative: that of being “just who I am as a woman or a wife or a mother.”
In the years since, McGraw has also been featured on The Doctors, the Emmy Award-winning TV show created and executive produced by her son Jay; The Today Show; The Oprah Winfrey Show; The View; Rachael Ray; and others, always sharing a powerful message with women across the globe: Put yourself at the top of your list and take care of yourself.
“If you can’t do it for you, then do it for your family,” she says. “It doesn’t make you a better wife or parent if you’re sacrificing everything — including your health, soul, and spirit — for your family.”
And, she says, it’s never too late to start.
Self-care is one of her guiding life philosophies, and it stems from the unexpected death of her mother, Georgia Jameson, at the age of 58.
McGraw was 31 when her mother called her home one morning and told her daughter, “I’m feeling funny.”
She asked her mother, “What do you mean by funny?”
“And before I even finished that question, she was gone,” she says.
That was a life-changing event for McGraw, who says her mother never went to the doctor and had an inherently stressful life taking care of five children with little money and an alcoholic husband. “I made the decision to always put myself at the top of the list. My precious mother never did that. She passed away from undiagnosed heart disease and she missed out on so much,” says McGraw. “I had a revelation the day I lost her, I made the decision that I would always take care of myself so I could take care of those I love. I refused to perpetuate her legacy of self-neglect.”
McGraw says she feels privileged to be getting older, and she’s never hesitated to tell people her age — even when she was advised not to by the publisher of her 2008 book, What’s Age Got to Do With It? The book hit shelves two days after McGraw’s 55th birthday, and she was insistent that her age be on the cover. The publisher, however, strongly suggested that she not be so blatant about it, presumably because they thought no one would buy the book when they realized her age.
McGraw won the argument and appeared on the cover proudly perched atop a big number 55, looking more radiant than ever. That book and McGraw’s subsequent titles have sold more than 2.5 million copies.
The book was a continuation of the conversation McGraw was having with women through the Dr. Phil show. What’s Age Got to Do With It? shared McGraw’s personal perspectives on fitness, nutrition, menopause, hair and skin care, and more, along with the opinions and advice of leading experts.
“To me, aging gracefully isn’t accepting what aging does to you. It means taking care of your health, wanting to look your best, and knowing that it is not conceited, egotistical, or selfish to do so.”
In all the research I did for this story — and, full disclosure, in all the many hours I’ve spent in the last 15 years watching McGraw on Dr. Phil — I found not one inkling of conceit or ego in this lady. She exudes humility and gratitude, and she’s demonstrative in not only her love for her own family but also her caring for women, men, and children who might need help.
Since 2008, Robin and Dr. Phil have been vocal supporters and national spokespeople for CASA for Children, which trains volunteers to act as judge-appointed advocates for children in the foster care system. In 2013, McGraw founded When Georgia Smiled: The Robin McGraw Revelation Foundation, which is named after her beloved mother and is dedicated to helping women and children — and men — escape domestic violence and sexual assault.
What has moved McGraw the most is the courage of the guests who go on Dr. Phil asking for help and those who have experienced abuse who want to return to the show to help others. McGraw says, “I wanted to do something to help women and men get out of horrific situations.”
In its first year, McGraw created the Aspire Initiative, a free curriculum aiming to reduce the level of intimate-relationship violence in the United States and instill the importance of bystander responsibility. It is taught in schools across the country. She also launched the Aspire News app, a free smartphone app disguised as a current-news app that allows users to easily alert selected contacts if they are in danger with a pre-typed or pre-recorded message. When she launched the app, Aspire News was recognized on Capitol Hill by the National Health Collaborative on Violence and Abuse as one of the top two apps most effective in the fight to end domestic violence. It has been downloaded more than 500,000 times.
McGraw is rightfully proud of this work. Her high profile has provided her the means and the ways to touch millions of lives — from women looking for guidance on feeling better in their bodies to families looking for a way to feel safe — and it’s a responsibility she has accepted with the utmost of grace.
To learn more about When Georgia Smiled, go to whengeorgiasmiled.org. To shop the Robin McGraw Revelation lifestyle brand, go to robinmcgrawrevelation.com (100 percent of the net proceeds from the sales of AveryLasting Love lip gloss collection, Light of My Life candle collection, and From My Heart to Yours candle benefit When Georgia Smiled).