COMMENTARY | I've always enjoyed Paula Deen, even though her recipes with endless sticks of butter and languidly flowing rivers of oil made my stomach churn. Still, her sparkle and her manner draw you in. She takes her good with her bad, including in situations which would mortify most of us - such as the instance where the elastic on her pants broke at an awfully inopportune time - and maintains her trademark grin.
But now we learn that Paula Deen has type-2 diabetes, a disease that is increasing in frequency along with our waistlines. More startling, however, is that Deen, according to the Associated Press, was diagnosed with diabetes three years ago. She has now come forward with this information as a spokesperson paid by a drug company to talk about diabetes.
Deen reportedly said she waited to make her diagnosis public because "I wanted to bring something to the table when I came forward."
Of course, Deen could have brought something to the table years ago when she was diagnosed; she could have told people that consuming the food she makes could harm their health. Instead, she has gone on offering the same greasy, sugary, fatty fare.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, being a celebrity chef is big business. No doubt the revelation that Deen herself was suffering from a disease that is one of obesity's most constant companions would have impacted her ability to appear everywhere over the past three years, peddling her trademark fat and calorie bombs.
The program for which she is the spokesperson even has a lifestyle system, which has recipes and discusses food preparation, according to the Associated Press. I doubt that any of Deen's recipes offered over the last three years will be included. It feels as though she sold this country a lifestyle lie, the lie that her comfort foods were nothing more than that, when she was living with their likely very real consequences.
We need to take a lesson from this revelation. There is no magic shield, and though Deen claims, according to MSNBC, that she's always suggested her foods be consumed in moderation, moderation is not what she models. What she's modeling now is the physical toll of too much fat, too much sugar, and too many calories.
Even if someone appears to have our best interests at heart, it serves us to be skeptical. If Deen cared about the people who admire her, she wouldn't have waited until she had a paid deal to talk about her condition; she would have warned the people who look at her as a fun surrogate sister, surrogate mother, or surrogate aunt.
Rather than do that, it appears that she chose to protect her brand for three years until she was in the position to create a new one. I don't know about you, but I find that anything but comforting.