Thursday, January 26, 2012

Paula Deen and Personal Choices

Since announcing her diabetic diagnosis last week, Paula Deen has stirred up a great deal of press and public interest in her condition, her choice to conceal the condition for three years, and her choice to publically disclose the diagnosis whilst announcing a new sponsorship for a diabetes-control pharmaceutical drug.  Apparently, many people have strong opinions about this entire situation.  I first thought about writing a post to comment on this issue last week, but pushed the idea to the side.  Then, I saw this article calling for public opinions on whether or not it's appropriate for Ms. Deen to be seen eating a hamburger in public.  And that's what motivated me to action and writing this post.

It was Ms. Deen's choice to disclose her diagnosis, and honestly, I wish she had kept it private, but it was her decision nonetheless. I understand some of the controversy surrounding her announcement, namely that she decided to announce it while also announcing that she would be endorsing a diabetes-control drug.  I can see the point that she is profiting off of her diagnosis at the same time that she profits off of her calorie, fat-laden recipes (which, in an extreme leap, can be connected forward to diabetes and the drug she is peddling to help control it.) I thought that this blog post from Cap Hill Style was well-written and it helped me see clarity in these arguments.

That said, I understand that diabetes is a very serious disease. Being overweight and therefore at higher risk for the disease, I would say I understand this better than most people. It can complicate any other health condition and lead to serious other conditions all on its own.  But in my opinion, the backlash against Ms. Deen for her choices has been absolutely outrageous.  The woman annouces a diagnosis with diabetes and suddenly, every hamburger she eats is a matter of national news.  It is absurd, frankly.  Diabetes is very serious.  So are alcoholism or drug addition.  Yet, we don't see national news headlines each time a celebrity with alcoholism takes a shot, or everytime a chronic smoker lights up. 

Many people deal with psychological illnesses, heart conditions, high blood pressure, chronic headaches, etc. but choose to take their medications inconsistently or avoid seeing doctors regularly, and this is their choice.  We may not agree with it.  It is not rational at all and in many cases, we cannot explain it, but it happens.  We each should make better choices for our own health, but for some reason, we choose not to sometimes.  And that's our choice, too.

In my opinion, people can criticize Paula Deen all they want for profiting off of her own health condition, but they cannot criticize her for not eating a salad every day for the rest of her life or choosing to eat what she wants. Do you eat a salad every day? Probably not. Me either. Ultimately, it is up to her to make good or poor decisions for her own health.

In diet, moderation is the name of the game. It is fine to enjoy a Paula Deen recipe, from time to time. Not every day or even every week. And as much as Ms. Deen may promote herself, she's not standing in consumers' kitchens forcing them to cook or eat her recipes, they are choosing that all on their own. We live in a world where we can make our own decisions, and we must be accountable to ourselves for those choices. 


  1. Agreed! It's ridiculous for people to criticize her for this, especially when celebrities like Charlie Sheen are idolized for their behavior and blatant promotion of illicit drugs. Somehow, the fact that Paula Deen is overweight and therefore "deserves" having diabetes or something is just so effed up that I can't even process it fully.

  2. I loved this - could not agree more!

  3. I read your blog a lot, but I've never posted a comment before, so first things first - hi, I'm Susan from! I live in the DC area too, which is how I found your blog. :)

    I agree with you about how people need to lay off - she's getting way too much attention for this and it's ridiculous! Did you happen to catch the ad that Washington Sports Clubs ran? If not, here's a link to it from the the ARLnow blog:

  4. Absolutely agree! While I enjoy following celebrity news, the choices that I make in my personal life are not affected by what I read in the weekly gossip magazines. It's almost insulting when you read those articles that start trying to point the finger at one person for starting/enabling the obesity trend. Everyone knows that certain foods are better for you than others, and you make a conscious choice when you place your order. I know if I choose the cheeseburger over the salad that it's less healthy, but I'm okay with that. As long as I don't make that choice everytime and I try to balance it with healthy behavior, there's no harm done!


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