*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 be.....so 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
, 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. America
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]