Paula Deen announced today that she has type 2 diabetes. The news was about as surprising as Meryl Streep winning her gajillionth acting award. Some things you can just see coming.
I’m not here to pile on anyone’s health misfortune, but after what I saw today, the misfortune looks more like opportunity.
This morning, Deen appeared on the “Today” Show with Al Roker, where she came off looking in parts disingenuous, scripted, ill-informed and evasive. Mostly, she came off looking like a two-faced opportunist.
I’ve long called bullshit on Deen’s southern “charm,” but now I view her as something sinister. You see, it turns out Deen was diagnosed with diabetes three years ago, but only chose to make the information public now — after she’s become a paid spokesperson for the pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk and their diabetes drug, Victoza. Deen’s new online program is called, “Diabetes in a New Light: You CAN Have Your Cake and Eat it Too, Just as Long as You Take This Drug.” (I added the second part.)
Deen claims she waited three years to disclose her condition until she could “bring something to the table.” And I believe what’s on that table is a pile of cash from Novo Nordisk.
I find the whole thing rather despicable. Deen builds an empire promoting the most god awful, health-shattering recipes known to man, and now she’s raking it in plugging a diabetes drug. That’s like me being an arsonist and getting paid to promote First Alert fire extinguishers.
Roker asked the right questions, but I suspect had he not shared Food Network ties with Deen, he would have hit harder. He did inquire twice if she’s changed her eating habits, to which she hemmed and hawed and answered with a straight face, “Youu know, aaa’ve aaalways encouuuraged moderation.”
(I have friends who are fans of Paula Deen, and even they view her as sort of a joke. They laugh at her excess, and have never once mentioned her philosophy of “moderation.” Unless by moderation, she means using two sticks of butter rather than four.)
Look, is it Paula Deen’s job to solve America’s obesity-related health crisis and make Americans less fat? Absolutely not. Personal responsibility is just that, personal. We all need to be held accountable for what we put into our bodies. But Deen does have a responsibility to level with the fans who watch her shows, buy her books and make her fabulously wealthy. Did she keep her condition quiet to protect her brand? I’m guessing yes. Do unhealthy recipes like hers play a major role in obesity-related illnesses? I’d say yes again. Is she only coming forward now because of her partnership with Novo Nordisk? Let’s make it three. Yes.
The hypocrisy is so thick you could cut it with a knife. Judging by Deen’s calorie-dense recipes, better make that a sharp knife.