Paula Deen announced that she had type 2 diabetes on the Today show this morning. That’s probably not a surprise to many. She’s been making incredibly fatty, butter and cream laden food for decades. She also revealed she’s had a smoking habit for 50 years. I’ve struggled with that one myself so I know how unhealthy that can make you.
For someone who’s signature dish is a burger nestled between two halves of a Krispy Kream doughnut, that revelation shouldn’t come as much surprise. She’s a fantastic self promoter and has built a brand around Southern home cooking. People love it. People love her. That’s not REALLY the issue. The issue – or rather issues – that i have are the things surrounding that revelation.
One, she’s known about having diabetes for at least a few years, she’s fessed up to at least three. While medical concerns are certainly a private issue, she’s been pushing the same diet and recipes that certainly played a part in giving her the condition. While there’s certainly a bit of personal responsibility and choice that goes with what you put in your own mouth for viewers, there’s also something to be said for not making recipes that continue the trend of over-eating and obesity that’s prevalent in the United States. I’d call that one a draw.
In the time that she’s known, the fact that Deen’s son, Bobby Deen, launched a new series, “Not My Mama’s Meals” on the Cooking Channel network seems a bit suspect. He offers more health-conscious variations on Paula’s recipes and it launched earlier this month. Hmmmm.
What I really take issue with is that on the same day that she announced that she had the condition, she also announced that she and other son, Jamie, will both be spokespersons for Deen’s campaign – which is being called “Diabetes in a New Light” — for Novo Nordisk. What’s Novo Nordisk? It’s the pharmaceutical company that makes diabetes shot Victoza. $500 a month that drug. So not for those without insurance or a deep pocketbook.
When asked about her deal with Novo Nordisk, Deen explained that she is working and therefore she should be compensated. Her sons both explained how the deal will help millions of people and she’ll inspire people to go to the doctor to get checked. They are in a position to save lives, the family believes. Again, that’s a hell of spin. If they’re in such a position to help maybe should could pull a few pounds of butter and cream out of her recipes.
Deen told the New York Times that she held off on the announcement because “I wanted to wait until I had something to bring to the table,” however that doesn’t appear to be appeasing to many fans. A quick look at her Facebook page shows that Novo Nordisk may soon wish they had never signed her on board.
“Shame on you Paula!” ”[Y]ou waited three years to divulge your illness while still promoting your health deteriorating ways. Your son then gets his own ‘healthy cooking gig’ and THEN you reveal you are diabetic signing a contract for millions! ETHICS, SCRUPLES, and TRUE LOVE FOR YOUR FOLLOWERS is something you DO LACK!” ”GREEDY and YOU ARE THE DEVIL PAULA!!!!!!!”
Not mincing words then.
Another commenter on her fan page – “[Y]ou have lied to the public for the past three years — during this time you opened two buffets in Harrah’s casinos, written books and had your TV show! … You are/were a PUBLIC FIGURE and lied to your public by not coming out an saying you were diabetic! oh, but I guess you would have lost the buffets at the casinos which I know rack in $$$.”
Another poster – apparently with a diabetic child continues the attack:
“Y’ALL you are fools for making excuses for this disgusting woman’s greed…My son has been a Type 1 diabetic since he was 26 months old and believe me it has been no walk in the park … Ms. Paula Deen is a dangerous selfish woman who knew what she was doing when she hid her diagnosis from everyone including the Food Network.”
Facebook hasn’t been the only place to see people angry. Even foodie Anthony Bourdain weighed in with an interview in which he attacked her and on then on Twitter, Bourdain wrote in reference to Deen – “Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later.”
I was fairly neutral on Paula Deen previous to this. She was a bit of joke around the house but she made people happy and she made a career feeding people food they liked. I’m a bit taken aback at this point. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. It just seems she laid out the Southern cooking – take no prisoners – damn the torpedoes – no consequences cooking as far as she could until she had financials and arrangements in order to make sure she could move on to her next phase. Apparently that’s going to be Paula Deen light. It just seems an ugly way to bring all this about.