Thursday, January 26, 2012

I'm a Skinny Bitch & Paula Deen has Diabeetus!

*Disclaimer* If you hadn't guessed by the title, there's some choice profanity sprinkled throught this post. You've beeen warned.

So I’m a skinny bitch, Paula Deen has diabetes, and neither one of use are having the best week ever! Unless you’ve been trapped underground for the last 7 days, you’ve probably heard by now that Paula Deen publicly announced last week that she has Type 2 Diabetes.  This should come as a surprise to no one.  If you’re my friend on Facebook, you may or may not have seen a really bitchy status I posted two weeks ago, in response to a “plus size” girl calling me a skinny bitch.  She meant it to be funny, but I was not amused.  I’m sure you’re wondering what my inability to take a joke has to do with Paula Deen but I assure you, I’ll get to that.

So let’s go back to 2 weeks ago, when I saw some bullshiggity of epic proportion on my Facebook feed. A friend posted a rant about his frustration about hearing that his women friends have been told they need to be a normal weight, and questioned what exactly a “normal weight” is. I briefly responded, leading with my public health credentials, that there is in fact a such thing as a “normal weight”, and seeing as how this nation is facing an epidemic of overweight and obesity—which are the biggest driving forces behind the skyrocketing costs of healthcare—obviously far too many people don't fit into that normal category [pun intended]. A third party then responded to the thread with, and I quote,

I always hear it from my doctor; "Miss Iliketowearshinygoldleggings, you are healthy and strong as an ox....but maybe you should consider more exercise and diet because at your age and height....bla...h blah blah".  I'm healthy, no joint issues, everything is where it should what's the problem???? I look damn good and I don't wanna be a skinny chick. Research shows that people with more body fat tend to be happier as far as personality goes. Why? (MoNique voice) Skinny bitches are evil! They hungry all the damn time!! Lmao

Laser beam side eye; it just so happened that on that very day, I skipped breakfast [sacrilege!] and was, in fact, quite hungry and as a result was irrationally angered by her skinny bitch comment. [The irony of this situation is not lost on me, trust]. But hungry or not, what I wasn’t irrationally angry at was her attitude and blatant disregard for her doctor’s advice.  I couldn’t let it go, so I responded as courteously as possible and pointed out that her youth (and that's she's blessed) may be protecting her joints [I'm a skinny bitch and have chronic knee pain, wtf?] and health now but that 5-15 years from now that probably won't be the case.  I quoted some pertinent statistics [~80% of African American women are overweight or obese, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease are leading killers of African Americans]. I even made light of her calling me a skinny bitch, by reminding her of my credentials and that at the end of the day, it's my job to know better.

I may have overreacted, but did I really?  I was really incensed by her laze fair at best, defiant at worst attitude about her weight and future health, because while she’s healthy now in her 20s, but will that be the case in her 30s 40s 50s? Highly unlikely!

So onto Paula Deen. Let me state this for the record, up until last week, I was a fan of Paula Deen as a TV personality.  I mean, let’s face it, the woman is a lot of fun to watch on TV. She’s funny, she’s personable, she makes inappropriate sexual innuendos almost every time she has a man, who isn’t one of her sons, in her kitchen, and the word on the street is that she smokes like chimney, drinks like a fish, and cusses like a sailor. What is there not to love??  Even her incessant miscegenation of what could’ve been decent, though decadent, southern food with butter, mayonnaise and her deep fryer is something I kind of marveled at with fascination and sometimes just plain disgust.  It was like watching a Lifetime movie; you get sucked in by the drama and stay in spite of the terrible acting [the same can be said for my newest TV obsession, Revenge].  I loved to watch her cook, but almost never wanted to eat what she made. And I was totally fine with that.  When Anthony Bourdaine, who I’ve been a fan of for years, called her “the worst, most dangerous person” to America, I was inclined to side with Paula, because his comments were unnecessarily harsh, even though I agreed with him.  But then last week happened.  The queen of butter revealed that she had been diagnosed with diabetes 3 years ago and then literally in the next breath announced that she was working with the pharmaceutical industry to promote diabetes in a “new light.”  Bourdaine’s reaction on twitter was, “Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later”. This time around, I’m team Bourdaine, because he kind of hit the nail on the head. 

Paula has admitted that she does not plan to change her own lifestyle or cooking habits drastically, rather she’s opted to eat smaller portion sizes of unhealthful foods [which in her case is like trying to plug a damn a piece of gum]--and inject herself daily with the $500/month diabetes drug that she’s now paid to endorse.  According to Paula, she’s “always preached moderation” [um, when ?!] and “she doesn’t blame herself”. As Chele from Black n Bougie says, red hot laserbeam side eye.

Really, Paula?! I haven’t watched her show in years, so maybe she started  prefacing every deep fried episode with “moderation is key”, but I surely don't remember a moderation message when I did watch her show religiously.  And it’s not unreasonable that she not blame herself entirely for this disease because I don’t know her family history, and you can’t eat yourself into type 2 diabetes [at least not entirely], and blaming one's self for anything is a destructive mindset. However, I am really disappointed she hasn’t taken one ounce of accountability for her condition, and admitted that her lifestyle of ultra rich cooking likely contributed to her disease and is something she can no longer embrace or promote.  But instead she’s opted to do the very opposite, and in doing so, she’s lost fan in me, because I can no longer respect her. I. Just. Can’t.

And here’s how these two incidents are related. In both instances, there is a blatant attitude of disregard for the impact that one’s lifestyle and weight has on their health, an indifference towards personal accountability and sound medical advice, and an irresponsible deference to prescription remedies for a chronic condition. <---And this shit right there is what frustrates me as health educator [and generally contributes to me hating my damn job] and pisses me off personally.  Professionally, it’s my job [or the job of the field of public health education and promotion] to change these types of attitudes, which as a tobacco control specialist, I can tell you it is really fucking hard.  So imagine how much harder it’s about to become for my colleagues in obesity and diabetes when the average overweight, under-exercised, over-indulgent American sees Paula Deen slinging butter on the Food Network one minute, shooting up diabetes drugs in Victoza commercials the next, and appearing as she can bake her gooey butter cake and eat it too?

Exactly. I don’t know about you, but I’m pissed as hell about it, and for once I think I’m 100% justified in my anger.

Thoughts? [other than that this post was too damn long]


  1. I agree with you about Paula's food.  I used to watch her show while I ran on the treadmill at the gym and she's funny and pretty handy in the kitchen.  And I saw her at the Food and Wine Festival in NYC last year, where she called Robert Irvine an asshole on stage then pulled up his shirt to show is his abs.  But actually eat her food?  Why don't I just inject myself with bacon fat while I'm at it?

    I'm reminded of a former acquaintance who once ranted about how she was so tired of reading all "those studies" that said being overweight is bad for you, because she was overweight but otherwise healthy.  In the meantime, she was 300 pounds, diabetic and unable to walk up steps.  Ermm.....

    I don't know exactly where I'm going with this, but I think there's a big problem in the US with taking responsibility.  With everything.  How many times do you hear someone complaining that the posted speed limit was too low when they got ticketed?  Or trying to blame away other bad choices?  Maybe it's too difficult for Paula to admit that her whole persona, her whole lifestyle that she has built her empire around, is partially to blame for a serious illness.

    As a fellow skinny bitch (with terrible knees that have both been operated on), I get tired of nonskinny bitches saying that I must have good genes or it must be "so nice" to not have to worry about my weight.  It pisses me off because I work damn hard to stay at a healthy weight.  I exercise, I watch what I eat.

    And as a vet tech, I also get tired of people coming in with their pets, disregarding my 14 years of experience and the doctor's eight years of school, and telling US what treatment they want because they read it on the Internet.

  2. I used to be overweight, never obese, but just pretty chunky.  I lost 60 pounds by changing my eating habits and wear a size 4 now (was a size 16).  I'm 5'10" and 127 pounds.  Way within healthy range.  Most people were happy/proud of me but there are a few that continue to say "omg, are you eating enough?  do you have an eating disorder?"  It was so bad at one point I got a cold and my coworkers started telling my dad that I was sick because of my eating habits! It's so hard for me to bite my tongue...I'm sorry that I want to live a long, healthy life! 

    I hate that obesity is such a norm in this country that being skinny is almost looked down on now.  That comment you posted set me into a rage.  "Skinny bitch?!"  Come on.  I want to smack that girl and I don't even know her! Haha.

    And, I agree.  Duh, Paula Deen has diabetes.  Anyone who lived off of a diet using exclusively her recipes is basically destined to have diabetes.  Type 2 Diabetes is a curable/preventable disease and she definitely deserves to blame herself! 

    I think you are definitely justified in your anger.  The entire way weight/health is perceived in America is infuriating. 

  3. As I've said before, I'm in complete agreeance with you! First off, that gold leeggings or whoever chick was downright loud AND wrong! I was that young, big girl who thought she was cute and had a great self-image. For a very short time, I was anti-skinny girl. But eventually, I understood that my lifestyle was my choice and I couldn't knock anyone else for being small and/or healthy. Plus, that shit is just really tacky vernacular to bring other women down.
    Personaly, after witnessing my mother have double knee replacement surgery (and never fully recover) and my father struggle with diabetes for the last 15 years - and now capilary damage - I figured that me being cute and chunky at 24 will not exactly translate the same way at 44 and beyond. Three years later and 50 pounds lighter, I still struggle everyday to make the right choices and I'm not always successful, but I refuse to acknowledge any philosphy even close to what Paula promotes.
    I'll be the first to tell someone that food is delicious and can be an awesome experience. Paula's making a lot of money off of the "experience" she offers. The rest of us broke (and oftentimes uninsured or underinsured) mofos are not. So she can go ahead and pay her way through her disease.
    At the end of it, everyone should ask themselves, "is the eventual suffering and inconvenience worth it?" Not really.

  4. So here's what irks me about the whole Paula Dean situation, the whole 'no one forced you to eat her food' argument. No one forces drug addicts to shoot up but we still punish the dealers right? Yeah yeah its illegal but you get the point. No one forces people to smoke but the companies have to publish warnings, even now when almost everyone knows the repercussions of smoking, companies still have put out warnings...Paula Dean may just be one person, but she is also the front man to a brand, an image, a company that promotes unhealthy eating and when that company found out that their star developed a disease (which most likely advanced due to her eating habits) they had a responsibility THREE YEARS AGO to say something to their audience.  Yes, we all know what eating too much bad food will do to you but I still feel like they had a responsibility that they failed to live up to.       

  5. Her food makes me drool to look at it, but the timing of her announcement definitely could have been better. I assumed she meant that she would be eating her unhealthy recipes less regularly...If she's still eating it daily, her doctors cannot be happy about that.

  6. I've gotten the same thing multiple times as well.  I realize my parents keeping me active was a good thing and it carried over.  I love the size I am. Being skinny is not a curse. We're not anorexic or bulemic or starving ourselves.  Matter fact because we eat at a healthy pace and eat healthier than other we probably eat more, with the in between snacks of fruits, etc.  Obese people's attitudes is just plain disgusting.

  7. Oh boy... Well, I know you know how I feel about Paula Deen.  I don't eat her food, I do find her entertaining, but I don't think she or the Food Network has any responsibility for diabetes or food warnings.  There's enough healthy food on The Food Network to balance out the hot mess that is Paula Deen.  She's just not that important to me and I don't want to look like her, so I won't eat like her.

    I'm sorry that your feelings were hurt by the woman who called you a "skinny bitch".  I hate to hear any woman call another woman a bitch and I don't think that's funny.  I don't know this woman, but it seems she has insecurities about her body and she resorted to name calling instead of addressing her feelings.  I see the same thing happen when people call me a "smart bitch" or a "sarcastic bitch" or a "know it all bitch" when I  have an academic or professional accomplishment. 

    No one will ever call me a "skinny bitch" because I'm not skinny.  I've struggled to stay in the overweight range (and away from obese) and I don't have an unhealthy lifestyle.  I acknowledge that I should/could lose 30 pounds, but I also realize that if I ate everything I wanted and never exercised that I'd be a fat woman.  I also acknowledge that I am a non-smoker, regular exerciser, and a person who tries to avoid over eating and processed foods.  While I fantasize about being high school skinny or bikini slim, I also realize that I've accomplished a lot in my 32 years and that no one will love me any more and I won't be better at my job if I lose 30 pounds.  So I try.  My husband and I have an agreement that we don't over-obsess over weight, but we keep each other in check if we develop bad or lazy habits. 

    I'm tired of women of all sizes pontificating about their weight.  Health is very important.  Education, mental health, and financial stability are important as well.  I'm not an advocate of unhealthy lifestyle choices whether they be financial, relationship-related, or weight-related.  At the same time, I don't judge people for their adult choices (or their genetic predisposition or family history that leads them to make destructive decisions). 

    Okay, go ahead and attack me now.  :)

  8. Ahh, a good 'ol rant!  Missed these.

    The problem with Paula Deen is although she represents a subset of southern cuisine, she stretches it to a limit to bring in ratings.  My dad's family is southern and they cooked it ALL, but it was not overly laden in butter or fat and all the dishes always had an abundance of veggies----mmmm, okra and tomatoes.  Paula seemed to only toss in some veggies at times to keep it PC, but then ruined them with more butter.  She is the worse representation of Southern cuisine and most  of the foods she made are traditional SUNDAY DINNER ONLY meals not to be eaten 7 days a week.  During the week my grandma rarely made meat heavy dishes and instead had cornbreads with beans and things like that.  Paula is just playing to the hype and making money which is irresponsible given her current condition.  And partnering with the drug companies!!! I. JUST. CAN'T!  I quit her.

    A better example would be Patti Labelle, who after getting diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes went on to revamp her southern cooking and make a diet friendly cookbook.  I haven't spent much time looking it over, but I do know it brings down the fat content and/or eliminates it  for many popular recipes.  Patti needs to give Paula a call.

    PS---Why is Revenge so addictive? Even with bad acting.

  9. I couldn't sleep last night and was thinking about this post, specifically about the doctor thing.  Not every dr is a good one and if your doctor's beliefs don't line up with yours, maybe it's time to change doctors.  We switched pediatricians because the old one constantly harped on weight.  Both my kids are small.  Started out just over 7 pounds at birth, followed the normal curve for breastfed babies, then slowed down around 6 months.  At one, my daughter weighed 16 pounds 12 ounces.  My son was a little heavier.  She wanted to send us to a pediatric gastro specialist with the first.  With the second, she wanted me to feed her pudding and other fatty foods to get weight on her.  She refused to look at the big picture.  Both kids were meeting or exceedinjg their milestones, happy, rarely sick.  Weight is just one indicator of health, not the only one or even the most important one.  I wasn't going to feed my baby junk food to get her to gain weight!  We switched doctors several years ago and the new doc is not concerned that both kids are on the small side. 

    Anyway, I'm wondering if anyone has heard of the Real Girl Belly Project.  I do think sometimes that the idea of a "normal" weight can be hard to pin down because of the way the media portrays extremes on either side.

  10. Keeley I would never attack you! You're opinion is valid, and a lot of people share your view. Technically it's not the job of Paula Deen and the Food Network to educate about healthy eating, etc, but they have an unfair advantage over the public health education profession in terms of resources and a captive audience, I feel that they should at least try. But obviously my opinion is biased because of my profession. I'm actually curious to see how this will play out, because it's

  11. I've missed my rants too. I've been really unfocused in the last 6 months, so trying to get my thoughts all typed up without sounding like a crazy idiot has been challenging. And yeah, Paula's cooking is definitely a caricature of southern food, and it's just not necessary. And you make such a good point about Patti Labelle. She's been a long time advocate for healthy eating to manage diabetes, I kind of wonder what her opinion of this situation is.

    And revenge is addictin because Emily Thorne does NOT play, and I really want to see how this will play out over several seaons. I haven't seen last night's eipisode yet, so guess what I'm doing when I get home from work today?!

  12. You're so right, this woman has built an empire on promoting terribly unhealthy food. That by itself isn't great, but I never begrudged her for it. But the fact that she hid her condition for three years while continuing to promote ridiculous food, and then partnered with big pharma, completely changes the argument, and it's grossly irresponsible on her part. I honestly wonder how this will play out, since Food Network was in the dark on her health, and there's been a LOT of outrage. You have cable, you'll have to keep me posted!

  13. Yeah, I hear you Asha. Sometimes I feel like I have to apologize for being small, but that's crazy, because while I've been small, I 've worked my ass off to the body I have now. I try to empathize with people who struggle with their weight, right up until the point where they attacke me because of mine. Then the gloves come off, lol

  14. losing 60 pounds is an amazing accomplishment, and you deserve to be proud of it without having your methods questioned by people who don't know you very well. Obviously you love food, you have a food blog!  And last time I checked, everybody get's a cold, how your coworker came to that ridiculous conclusion that you're starving yourself ill is beyond me. Obviously, these people havent' seen your blog.

    I actually went on a terrible blind date recently, where the guy struggled with his weight, was really fixated on my weight and my diet habits, and kept insinuating that I didn't eat because I'm small. I'm used to those sort of comments from some women, but it really annoyed me coming from a guy. I didn't hold my tongue with him, and needless to say it was a first and last date.

    And as for Paula, it was really the drug endorsement that rubbed me the wrong way. It sends such an irresponsible message to the consumers of her brand, and it appears tacky at best, and profiting from her illness at worst.

  15. People will find ways to justify just about anything, and will consider themselves healthy so long as they don't have cancer, seriously. The thing with persona responsibility it's based on the information that people have and resources they have access to, and with Paula's endorsement of this drug without drastically altering her diet, it sends a very irresponsible message that you can have your cake and eat it too, even if you have diabetes, so long as you can afford this expensive drug.  It's a public health messaging nightmare..
    and I tend to tread lightly when talking about weight, becuase in many ways, I am genetically bless. I have a responsive metabolism, which enables me to lose weight fairly easily, and I put on lean muscle tissue very quickly, so I acknolwedge that I have an advantage over most and really have never struggled with my weight. Conversely, I also work my ass off. I've been taking pole fitness classes for about two years, and have completely transformed my body, so I totally understaynd how you feel. I want to tell people that if you're not active and eat like dirt, even if it doesn't show on the outside, at some point it will catch up with you.

  16. I don't know if that's just an American thing, or if it's apparent in other countries too, but the whole "magic pill" thing is disturbing.  It doesn't matter what's wrong with you, you can just take a pill to fix it!  My dad suffers from a painful autoummune disorder and his doctor told him straight out that doctors don't trust people to make lifestyle changes, but they know they will take their meds.  So they prescribe and prescribe and prescribe.  I have expressed concern to him on mulitple occasions that every time he goes to this doctor with a complaint, he gets yet anothermed, without the doctor considering if the symptom is maybe a side effect from another medication, or if there might be a drug-free alternative to try.  Perhaps Paual is taking the easy way poutand also trying to make some money while she's at it. 

  17. The timing of her announcement just brings up so many questions, and none of which are good. The thing with hollywood is that you can find a doctor to tell you what you want to hear. I can't imagine that most doctors would be happy about her diet and her illness, regardless of taking medication, because medication is not the only way to manage diabetes. The whole situation has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, and I wonder what the future will hold for her.

  18. The timing of her announcement just brings up so many questions, and none of which are good. The thing with hollywood is that you can find a doctor to tell you what you want to hear. I can't imagine that most doctors would be happy about her diet and her illness, regardless of taking medication, because medication is not the only way to manage diabetes. The whole situation has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, and I wonder what the future will hold for her.

  19. You bring up a really good point about not every doctor being a good doctor. I can't believe your pediatrician would recommend you try to fatten up your baby with pudding. (really though?!) I happened to have been a small child, fortunately my pediatrician realized I was healthy, just small. I'm glad you recognized that the problem was the doctor, not your children.

    I've never heard of thie Real Girl Belly Project, but I'll look it up before the end of today. I defintiely am aware that what's portrayed as "normal" is far from it. Normal weight, as far as I'm concerned, is a size that doesn't stress your body to carry it. For me my normal is my current size, but I have two sisters whose normal and healthy would never be a size 2. Getting the media to portray that truth  is a whole 'nother issue though :/

  20. I would go out on a limb and say that the whole magic pill mentality is more of an American thing. America's the home to so many pharmaceutical companies, and we can sell drugs on TV, so it's not surprising that we're a very drug friendly society. It' a big issue that I don't see getting any better anytime soon. And Paual is definitely promoting that ideal. Tragic.

  21. Yep, Paula Deen is a sell out. Great personality, but very hypocritical.

  22. As an epi-student, and aspiring med student myself, though I
    can't comment about your situation, the young lady you mentioned or Paula
    Dean's I can say there are exciting developments in reference to weight,
    health, and lifestyle and the whole calories in calories out BMI or physical appearance
    and supposed correlations to health/healthfulness are kind of old school in the
    field and have been since I was in elementary (I'm in 23). What we know is diet
    and lifestyle current physical condition and a bit of genetic history can
    correlate to current and future health conditions. What we do know is that it
    isn't always clear why a pancreas begins to function poorly or stops
    functioning properly all together but Diabetes (Type I or II) are lethal and
    complex diseases that no one would wish on anyone (from amputations to
    osteonecrosis-nercrotic in bone marrow, come-on!). What we do realize is that
    much of what we hold as sacrosanct in public health and in medicine for that
    matter has been generated from a very limited homogenous population and we are
    just beginning to realize that what works or applies to white men of German
    descent between the ages of 25-45 or 60, does not apply to all. I encourage
    people to challenge status quo wisdom, being mindful that of the statements of centurion
    who has buried several of her younger physicians that advised her to cut back
    on the liquor and smokes. And, also because many of the populations facing
    higher risks of chronic and preventable disease are facing them because of the
    way foreign diets, wisdom, and training has altered traditional dietary
    practices (the loss of hunter/gather practices among first nation people, the
    manner in which the Great Migration disrupted family structures and connections
    to agriculture traditions in African American populations. Where do you think
    we started getting the gov't cheese, and the love of convience store chips, and
    how do you think it came about? It's all been concerted very systematic, and
    very calculated, so when you ask or rather insist that a First Nation,
    Hispanic, African American Woman change her lifestyle, diet---because you or
    better yet, her white doctor says so, there is a fair amount of distrust. 


    No blame games here, but there is also no empirical guide, not when it
    comes to people, and not when it comes to such complex issues.



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