Paula Deen: Glass Houses.
I have no idea who Paula Deen is.
Actually, I have a little bit of an idea. My mother-in-law loves the Cooking Channel and she watches a lot of the cooking shows. Sometimes she tells us about a delicious recipe she saw, or wants to try. My MIL is my link to the cooking community (because we all know my talents are limited in that department ... see also my contribution to D-Feast and that thing about froast). She's the one who told me who Sam Talbot was. And she filled me in on Paula Deen.
My personal knowledge about the woman is limited, though.
What I do know is that she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes about three years ago. And in the last few days, she's come out as a spokesperson for Novo Nordisk's diabetes drug, Victoza, with her web presence at the branded "Diabetes in a New Light."
But holy crap, the Internet has plenty of opinions about this woman. The Huffington Post said "Paula is now suffering from the popular perception that money bought her new-found honesty." Anthony Bourdain Tweeted, "Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later." Run a Google search on "Paula Deen and diabetes" and your web browser will collapse from the weight of opinions.
I don't know the woman. I have no idea if she is drinking her own KoolAid (or, in this case, eating her own glazed doughnut sandwiches). But after all the emails I've received and all the posts I've seen in the DOC, it's hard to ignore this discussion.
On one hand, why not talk about her diagnosis after it actually happened? Why wait for Pharma dollars? Amy Tenderich shared her opinion: "Building a food empire on unhealthy foods and then being diagnosed with a chronic condition with a known correlation to food and obesity has to be difficult, not to mention embarrassing. I can understand why someone wouldn’t be anxious to put themselves in that kind of spotlight — although it was inevitable eventually." Paula Deen said herself: "I had to really get myself into a place when I made the announcement. I would come with information, and I would be armed to be able to help others."
Disclosing her diabetes when she felt best-armed to discuss it? To each their own. Continuing to market her less-than-healthy recipes? She can do that, too, you know, even if the media wants to go apeshit on her for doing so. If doughnuts end up on my plate, it's not because Paula Deen put them there and then crammed them into my mouth. I think we need to own our own actions, and not be so quick to blame celebrities for being the voices in our heads.
On the other hand, what I also know is that she, like me, is a person living with diabetes. Paula has type 2 diabetes, while I have type 1 diabetes, but the fact remains that she is part of the diabetes community. And just like everyone else, she has her right to disclose whatever she'd like, whenever and however she'd like. Not all of us talk about our weight. Or our A1Cs. Some of us in this community only disclose anonymously online, never whispering a word about our diabetes to our "real life" friends. We all share at a level that we alone have the right to dictate. So Paula Deen and her decision to "come out" as a type 2 diabetic is her call.
George Simmons said it best, in my opinion: "Everyone is a hypocrite when they're first trying to change." For me, as someone who is deeply immersed in the diabetes community and relies on it for psycho-social support (just as crucial as insulin, in my opinion), I want someone to be there for Paula Deen as she adjusts to this new normal. I'm not a doctor or a journalist ... I'm a person with diabetes, and I want to support my fellow PWDs. So her past is slick with butter and glaze? That was then. She has a chance to change now - and not to impress "us," but to take better care of herself.
I hope that's what comes of this announcement from Paula Deen. She has a chance to reach millions of people, and I'm hopeful that she'll use her platform to inspire people to take control of their diabetes, despite any and all criticism, judgment, and fear.