Tuesday, June 25, 2013

When Famous Diabetics Fail

As the world knows Paula Deen is flaming out spectacularly in a very public way.  A deposition she gave enlightened everyone on the racism and misogyny that still exists in Paula's world - at least at some time in her life.

 Having lived in Atlanta Georgia for one year I can truly say I'm not surprised - people would say the most amazingly bigoted things to me when I lived there because being a fair haired, fair skinned blue eyed person they assumed I must be a bigot too.  One poor friend took me to see her hometown and meet her Dad, who we took out to lunch.  We drove past an oddly located large flat concrete slab and I asked about it.  When integration had come, the town was told they had to open their public pool to minorities.  Instead the town filled it in with concrete - effectively keeping out minorities and all the other children in town as well.  Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.  I was aghast and my poor friend spent most of lunch apologizing to me for her father.  I never saw him again but I knew he was not the only one in the South with that level of hate and racism.

Which brings us to Paula Deen.  She has been famous for many things- her southern cooking, her chawmin' way of talkin' to folks, her excessive use of butter and all things sweet and fattening.  Then the revelation of her type 2 diabetes created a stir. She had to change her ways and focus on healthy living.  Her two sons also gained enlightenment and both lost weight and the family became symbols of eating right. 

Many criticized her then for keeping her diagnosis a secret but I wasn't one of them. I remember how upsetting my own diagnosis was and that there were periods of denial, grief, regret and then embracing it and learning what to do.  I'm not surprised that she didn't immediately go out and talk about it - for a long time you are trying to figure out exactly what it means to you to be Diabetic. Can you control it with diet and exercise, with oral meds (too many to name), with shots (Byetta, Insulin and others)?  What can you eat and when can you eat it?  My doctor and my diabetes educator told me to have oatmeal for breakfast - I did and it spiked my blood sugar 100 points. Then it was not instant oats but the slow cooked kind.  Well that took an hour to prepare and - it spiked my blood sugar 100 points.  Then it was eat it with some protein.  Well....  all I can say is the quest for breakfast took over a month just to figure that out.

But at last Paula Deen came out and admitted her diagnosis and began cooking healthier.  And I wsa hoping for a diabetic only cooking show.  That didn't happen but I keep waiting for one. Same with magazines - I don't get cooking magazines anymore - I can't make anything in them.  I content myself with diabetic cookbooks, diabetic magazines and my own inventions.  Having someone focus on healthier cooking was a nice change.  (Yes, there are some cooks on Food Network who focus on health - but they aren't in the Food Network Stars category.).

It is good for any disease to have a celebrity contract the disease - they elevate the disease to be more a part of the national discussion. Look at Angelina Jolie and Breast cancer, Rock Hudson and Aids, Michael J. Fox and Parkinsons.  Having a celeb diabetic because it calls attention to the disease and potentially helps raise more funds for research through both donations and government  funding which helps all of us.  Every marketer knows that you need to repeat messages over and over to be heard.  Having a Paula Deen speaking about Diabetes helped get the message out through magazines, tv, websites, etc.

But all that may be coming to an end.  Paula Deen has lost her tv show on the Food Network and is starting to lose her sponsors.  Question is can she make a comeback?  Some say no, she admitted to too much and in a way that made it seem as if saying racist things was natural.  And do diabetics really want their celebrity to be associated with racism?  Not really.

However, Americans love a comeback.  I would have thought we'd never see Peewee Herman again but he's come back. Football's Michael Vick horribly abused poor defenseless dogs for entertainment - and he is playing football and raking in the cash. Of course he's not endorsing dog food.  Tiger Woods was a serial cheater and America is loving his new girlfriend (who looks remarkably like his ex-wife). So can Paula Deen come back?  We'll have to wait and see how she does with Matt Lauer on the Today Show tomorrow warning. I've set the DVR to record it - I'm just hoping she doesn't talk about her diabetes.

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