The Angry Type 2 Diabetic: She's got Diabetes, now, Y'all!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

She's got Diabetes, now, Y'all!

I love observing people. People are an interesting societal experiment of contrasts, paradoxes, and dichotomies. If you are a lover of the observational art of human interaction and behavior, then there are two places you probably, secretly, enjoy: the mall, and the internet.

I love the mall, because frankly, I'm visually amused. It's like TV, really. (Except, well, I still don't want to see your boxer shorts, or your g-string, so please, pull up your pants.)

The internet... is a little more complex. It's like TV, in many ways, except that you actually get to SEE the end results of people being told how to think and feel (and often, with the added boost of anonymity). And believe me, there are plenty of influential forces on the internet, just like on TV, trying to tell us how to think and feel. 

So... all of this being said, it came as no surprise to me when yesterday, everyone became the judge and jury of Paula Deen, when a rumor broke out that she would soon be announcing that she has Type 2 Diabetes, and would be signing a major endorsement deal with big pharma corporation, Novartis. Tweeterers, and folks commenting on articles, let their disgust be loudly, and well known. Even certain entities in the diabetes online community, which I will leave unnamed, immediately and openly expressed their disgust, with expressions like "Ugh!," and "Really? Ya think?," only to delete those tweets later. My fellow pals at The Blue Heel Society have been working OVERTIME just trying to put out some of the fires. 

Why are people getting so worked up? 

Well, sadly, some of the backlash from this will BE that people will use her as an example and an excuse to ridicule, bully, and belittle others, especially Type 2 Diabetics, and spread misinformation that diabetes is caused by too much consumption of sugar, butter, lard, or fried foods. There's just no getting around that. 

I do think, however, that people just love to hate Paula Deen, for the sake of hating Paula Deen. Let's look at some facts. 

1. Paula Deen is annoying as *&%#.  I can't sit through much of her show without her little terms of endearment, expressions, and actual pitch and tone of her voice, getting on my very last nerve. Frankly, she's a little annoying to look at, too. I can't really put my finger on it... but there's just something about her hair, and what she wears, and how she carries herself... She doesn't have the most razzle/dazzle personality out there. This alone makes perfect fodder for being the SCAPEGOAT to anything we can possibly hate, and what is more vilified in our current decade than apparent unhealthful eating? Am I right? 

I know, I know what you're saying...! I can read your mind. You are an HONEST, unbiased person... and you would NEVER hate someone for just what they look like, or their personality -- it's that horrible lifestyle she's promoting, and you are raising your voice loudly against it.  

Let me ask you this, then... where is your anger for Adam Richman's "Man vs. Food Nation?" I mean, come on... that show makes me PUKE. If anyone glorifies gluttony, it's Adam Richman. But, really, to everyone... He's a star. Everyone loves Adam Richman, and he can do no harm. At least Paula Deen's show was never about "how much can I eat before I bust my guts, attempting it, while I'm on vacation." (Vacation is always the excuse, by the way. Only try killing yourself with food, while on vacation.) 

Where is your anger for Sunny Anderson? Yeah, she has some healthy recipes... But so does Paula Deen! Sunny Anderson is basically, a younger, black Paula Deen, cooking Southern Soul Food. Why is she not the Queen of Evil? She obviously has a few pounds to lose, as well... 

"Oh, but Paula Deen cooks with butter, and lots of sugar, and lard...!" -- Ummm... Remind you much of Julia Child? Where's your hate for her? She's considered the QUEEN of cooking! And she also BRAGGED about  it... and a little more boisterously than Paula Deen.

Oh, wait, I know why... Because she's that annoying woman, with the southern drawl, that reminds you of your redneck aunt who always came and pinched your cheeks, and called you "dumplings." THAT'S WHY. 

2. Paula Deen endorses bad eating. Paula Deen has a very overacted, dramatic show, showcasing the southern cuisine she grew up with, just like anyone else who has a show on holiday foods and eating, is showcasing that. If you think her food is bad, then guess what, YOU'RE the one endorsing it when you watch it. In fact, when you watch almost any of the shows on the Food Network, you're endorsing bad eating, AND telling the network you want to keep watching such shows about bad eating. (Let me tell you, for all his bitching, Anthony Bourdain had NO reservations about eating that really fatty, roasted hog on a rod, the last time he visited Puerto Rico...) You can't really pick and choose which particular brand of CRAP cooking you watch is actually crap. That being said... Not any single cuisine or style of eating is going to make you obese, or make you get any disease. Hey, people say it all the time... They say "back in the 50s, you never saw many obese people..." Well, back in the 50s, people ate butter, lard, sugar covered lard butter... whatever. Understand? Food doesn't make anyone, in itself, unhealthy... It is overeating that potentially does.  Do I expect Paula Deen to be eating this type of food at home, every day, just because she has a show about it? Well, not anymore than anyone who has a show on holiday food. That would get old, and annoying fast, don't you think? And many of the recipes on her site are actually quite light, lean, and decidedly not southern. 

Also... and this might be controversial... but Paula Deen's food, for all it's caloric, sugar, and lard content is probably a LOT healthier than what America currently eats, and buys, on a daily basis. It's at least HOME MADE, and won't sit on a shelf like that burger you ate at McDonald's last night, for 6 months or more, without decomposing!  

3. Paula Deen wants to profit from her Diabetes.  Well, so far, we really don't know if she has Diabetes. She's going to make an announcement on Tuesday, and it's very likely she might admit to it. (Though, for the future, I'd like to caution any one of you against using sources like The Daily Mail, and The National Enquirer as credible sources of news.) As of yesterday, afternoon,  Novartis had told CBS that Paula Deen had not yet signed a deal with them.  

All of this being said, if she did... who cares? Why does it anger anyone if she does? Just what exactly are the inferences here? Are you inferring she's going to just use pills as an excuse to keep eating like crap, and pushing bad food? Or are you inferring needing medication as a Type 2 Diabetic is a shameful thing? Or... perhaps you are inferring that people with Diabetes who take big pharma endorsements are amoral, or have sold out? Is this, somehow, any different than Omnipod, Roche, Sanofi Aventis, etc, sponsoring some of the biggest diabetes bloggers out there, right now, paying for all their supplies, and just flying them all over the place? "Yeah, but we spread awareness..." How do you know she's not going to spread awareness? How do you know all she's going to do is ask people to consider a new drug alternative that's actually working for her? Isn't that what you do, as well? Furthermore, how do you know this is actually not a good, extra tool, people with diabetes could benefit from hearing about? How do you even know she might not turn around, and make a show showcasing how you can still eat with flare, and with passion, WHILE managing diabetes? 

4. Paula Deen knowingly hid her Diabetes, so she could keep hawking her show. How dare she! How can she sleep at night! Look, let's face it. A lot of people are a bunch of judgmental jerks. These days, everyone weighs any kind of life altering event very carefully before announcing it to the public. Even things like getting married, or getting pregnant, are career enders for many women in the spotlight. I know Paula Deen is no Beyoncé, but folks... If you loved something, with a passion, and suddenly someone gave you some drastic, dramatic, life altering news, you would need some time to think back, and re-evaluate your life. You want to regroup yourself, and your thoughts, before speaking to anyone. And have you stopped to think that she was also probably under contract with the Food Network? I'm sure she couldn't have stopped, mid season, and been like "F it! I got Diabetes now, so I can't go on..." Things like the menu, style, and theme of the show, are likely contractual stipulations. Besides... her health is really her own damn business. Not yours... and certainly not mine.  

5. Paula Deen brought this on herself. 
"There's no place for sympathy for type 2 diabetics, because factual scientific evidence has shown that it is brought on by themselves. " -- John Sampso, commenting on an MSNBC story.
And herein lies the rub of the matter. 

We, as a society, have decided Type 2 Diabetics deserve no sympathy. We have decided that Type 2 Diabetics are subhuman. Undeserving of sympathy, of support, of compassion, and worthy of our judgment, scorn, and policing. We have decided that Type 2 Diabetics, are basically, everything we hate about ourselves, or about the world's injustice toward our loved ones. How dare we lack self control, how dare we can't stay on our diet, how dare we don't lose weight, how dare we eat junk food, how dare we cook unhealthy food. How dare we EXIST. 

We can debate ourselves to the moon and back if someone's behavior contributed, or not, to their disease... (And when it comes to Paula, I honestly don't know. She is, after all, 65. Age is a huge contributing factor for Type 2 Diabetes. I don't know how long she's had it, but if she's kept it at bay until now, hell... GOOD FOR YOU, PAULA.) 

But, let me ask you this... If someone really did give themselves any disease (which I think we all know life is a little bit more complicated than that)... Does it really matter? 

Do they stop being worthy of our humanity? Or is it more... a projection of our OWN inhumanity?

Paula, honey... If you are a diabetic, WELCOME, and I am so sorry. With tears for the future journey ahead of you, I welcome you... Team Paula, all the way, baby. 


  1. Amazing post Liz! I don't know if I've ever seen Paula's show, but if she does have diabetes then she is another opportunity for increased awareness. And btw, am totally cooking with lard tomorrow; making a fresh batch of flour tortillas for a meal of pork carnitas the hubby is making...

    1. Thank you! And I hope you enjoy them every little bite. :D

    2. Oh, we will. Nothin's better than homemade Mexican food!!!

  2. I'm truly sorry when anyone is diagnosed with diabetes - any type. I really believe that the "stigma" of type 2 prevents many people from seeking help/support/hugs. I'm surprised my TV is still in one piece as I'm frequently wanting to throw something at it when a type 2 ad (or Dr. Oz) is on.
    We lived in the south. I like Paula. I didn't cook like her before my diagnosis and I still don't, but like you, I'm sure she's going to be attacked. And that will only make it tougher for newly diagnosed type 2s.

  3. I eat with butter all the time! I don't see the point of putting a piece of food into my mouth, taking out the needle, measuring the insulin, pulling a drop of blood (or more because of these darn calluses), and sticking myself in the thigh in sometimes really sensitive areas causing scar tissue and welts the size of my FACE *sigh* unless I. fucking. LOVE. the. food.

    What you eat DOES NOT CAUSE DIABETES. I'm type 1 and I am exhausted with the misinformation, myself!

    And as far as making money off of it, diabetes is a 24/7 disease. Type 1, 2 or 3, it can take over every aspect of your life, reshape your values, turn your whole world upside down. If you're good at it, and you're passionate about helping others manage it, then I hope you make some money off of it! The more money you make off of this disease that TAKES so MUCH out of your life, the more time you can spend focusing on improving your control and maybe mentoring others in a similar position. It is said by so many that diabetes is a full-time job. Well, don't you get paid by your job? I don't know about you, but full-time is described as 40+ hours per week. I definitely fulfill that with the amount of time I spend on my diabetes management.

    I wish everyone nothing but the best. If Paula has Type 2, I hope she continues her show and doesn't allow the diagnosis to ruin something that she is so passionate about.

  4. Wow! You really lay in on the line honey! I'm sorry you don't like Paula & I'll try not to sound too much like her if we ever meet. ;)

    Personally, I like her. She reminds me a lot of my mom. And she cooks the food I grew up eating. Yeah, some of it is full of fat, but like you said it's a damn sight better than some of the other crap we are stuffing ourselves with.

    I saw a few of those comments you mentioned & I was kind of shocked & insulted. I have Type 1, but both my mom & my stepmom have Type 2. Not to mention a LOT of my very favorite people in the world (that includes you Liz). And I'd like to tell all those people out there judging Paula, to eff off.

    And if she hid her diabetes, maybe it was because she was scared. Or didn't think it was the public's business. Or she knew every arse on the internet was going to stand up & start spewing hate. Or maybe she's just human & is trying to cope with one of the suckiest diseases ever in the best way that she can.

    If she can make some money off of this craptastic disease then I say more power to her. Goodness knows I'd like to. It damn sure costs me enough money. So go Paula! Work it girl!

    Thanks for writing this, Liz. :)

    1. Well I am so flattered, thank you! :) And... I've met a lot of Southern people, and find them quite charming. I'm not sure what it is about Deen. lol ;)

  5. As speak right to the heart of the matter. Having grown up in the south....eating that food....hearing and sounding much like Ms. Deen....I cannot express how much this cuts right through the crap out there. I love you Liz....covered in lard. :)

    *Dumpling* Effing riotous.

  6. Ah-mazing post!! My daughter has T1 and, although I don't know nearly as much about T2 as I do about T1, I mainly realized the misconceptions about T2 when my daughter was diagnosed and I began really reading about Diabetes. Also, something that struck me...people are so harsh when a person is diagnosed with Type 2, blaming the person and saying heartless things....when a person is diagnosed with, say, lung cancer, and that person has don't hear about comments being posted like, "serves them right, they knew what smoking does to your body....I don't feel badly that they may die a slow, painful death"....just an example, as you said, it is hard to determine that one habit causes one specific diagnosis....but that just made me think....

  7. Great post, Liz. You have an amazing way of cutting through the bullshit and laying it out straight, and I appreciate that.

  8. What about all the overweight unhealthy people who AREN"T type 2 diabetics? I just don't agree with the whole argument that they brought it on themselves. If that was so, their would be a whole lot more type 2s out there. Of course there is a lifestyle component but there's genetics too, and people don't get a say in that. There are a lot of holier-than-thous out there and it's a shame. I love Paula Dean, and if she has Type 2, I'm really sorry for her.

    1. I couldn't agree with you more, WendyP! :) Thank you for your comment. I generally devote a lot of time to explaining the many mechanisms and triggers of Type 2, and why we are not at fault... but this time I decided to add to that, and go one step further and ask "so what?" I don't think that "fault" somehow, justifies revoking our right to be humans, and treated with dignity, you know? Thanks for stopping by. ♥

  9. Thanks for the post. As a T2 Im ashamed to say I thot some of those things until I read your post . Shame on me! I havent gotten over to the "its not all my fault" side of things yet for myself and it really showed in my judgement of Paula. Again thanks for a no bs point of view!

  10. Hi Lizmari -- couldn't find a way to contact you besides leaving a comment here. Loved this blog entry, and I'd like to include a link to it in the newsletter (WILD Happenings) that we put out for Team WILD: We Inspire Life with Diabetes (with your permission). You can send me a message over FB or go to and leave a reply on any page -- I'll get it!
    -- Karen Lipinsky

  11. Amen, amen, and amen. I will never understand why we as a society kick the type 2s while they are down, but never dream of blaming the victims of heart attack or stroke for eating too many burgers. I am the mother of a three year old type one and worry about the hate and stereotypes he will endure in his lifetime. I am team Paula all the way. I hate the hate she is enduring now. Awesome post.

  12. Blaming somebody for their disease is a terrible thing, and is unfortunatealy all too common. It's a coping mechanism of sorts. "Well, if they hadn't done x, they wouldn't have gotten y, and so I will NEVER do x, and be safe. Yes, I'll be safe." It's similar to what I hear all the time as a T1. "Well, bad things only happen to D's who don't take care of themselves. You manage well, so I'm sure you'll be fine." So what if I get complications? It's my fault, and not the diabetes? Blaming the "victim" happens everywhere and it needs to STOP. Crap statements like "If she hadn't been at that bar, she wouldn't have gotten raped." "If she hadn't vaccinated her kids, they wouldn't have autism." I mean hey, I could say "If Paula Deen were 20 and had different genes, she wouldn't have diabetes". Too bad she's a human being who ages and can't alter her DNA.

  13. Very good post, Lizmarie. Thanks for writing this. I also welcome her to our community with open arms, and am eager to see how she advocates and uses this spotlight.

  14. Totally appreciated this post. I've been tired of all the negative comments I've seen related to Paula Deen's diagnosis. I ate stuff like that too before I was diagnosed with diabetes (I'm also Southern and I love bacon and butter as much as the next guy), but I don't get judged because I'm skinny and I have type 1. But I'm skinny and have type 1 because of my DNA not because I'm a more righteous person who took better care of myself than Paula Deen did. (I totally didn't. During college, I thought I was doing really well when I made it to the gym more than once a semester.) And even if she DID bring it on herself, what's the point in making her feel guilty now? You can't go backwards.

  15. Diabetes has a lot of triggers I believe. It could be viral, genetics, or bad habits/lifestyle. Reasons vary and we can do is address it upon recognition. There are fat people with no diabetes (but with hypertension, understandable), and slender individuals with Diabetes. Because one is fat does not mean he/she's lazy. So personally, I could barely settle for " is brought on by themselves." This is quite an interesting post I must say. Thank you for that!