Confirming the rumors that have been persistent for several days, Paula Deen does in fact have Type 2 Diabetes, which she has known about for over three years. Deen has gained celebrity-status in recent years for her excessive cooking style, and most recently for being named Maxim Magazine’s ‘Hottest Female TV Chef”.
Deen has received both praise and criticism for her unhealthy cooking habits, but after the revelation about her diabetes, her reception has turned largely critical. Paula Deen announced her diagnosis Tuesday morning on the TODAY show, also mentioning the endorsement deal she signed with pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk. In waiting so long to reveal her illness, while still cooking with excess fat and butter, Paula’s critics say she waited until an opportune time to reveal her diagnosis without any regret or sense of responsibility. Chef Anthony Bourdain summarized the sentiments best, tweeting “Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later.”
Paula stated that the reason she waited so long to reveal her diagnosis was because she was not properly armed with the knowledge necessary to inform her fans about the disease. Now she claims she has the necessary information to make a positive impression, and with her new endorsement deal from Novo Nordisk, no doubt she will be touting the diabetes medication she takes and her steps to a healthier lifestyle.
This reasoning makes sense to an extent, however Deen has known about her diabetes for over three years, has continued to cook with massive quantities of fat and sugar, and has not shown any regret for her cooking style, saying “I’m your cook, not your doctor”. She seems to have shirked any responsibility in the unhealthy lifestyle she has promoted to her fans through her cooking and endorsement of products like Smithfield ham and Philadelphia cream cheese by claiming that she has always promoted moderation.
The reason so many critics find Paula’s announcement ill-timed and irresponsible is because of her ability as a chef to make positive changes in her lifestyle, and act as a dietary role model to her audience. By continually shrugging off notions of her food being unhealthy, Paula has helped to shape the diets of countless Americans, in a country already suffering from an obesity epidemic. While Paula’s cooking is meant for entertainment purposes, as a chef she has access to fresh ingredients with the full ability to pick and choose what she cooks with to promote a healthier lifestyle.
No doubt diabetes is a difficult disease to live with, and Paula Deen will hopefully begin to preach moderation more to her fans and raise awareness about the causes and effects of diabetes. Deen has already pledged to donate some money from her drug endorsement deal to the American Diabetes Organization, and will be making many more public appearances to talk about the disease. Though she may not have to be a role model for Americans, it’s still our belief that Paula should have come clean about her diagnosis back in 2008; the excuse that she needed three years to learn how to live with diabetes just doesn’t hold water.
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