Paula Deen photo from the Huffington Post, 1/24/12
The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it. ~William James
Paula Deen's diabetes announcement happened nearly three weeks ago, and she still makes me mad. I have to take a break from our regularly scheduled program for a rant.
We ask very young athletes to be role models and hold them to high standards of behavior. LeBron James was razzed mercilessly when he left the Cleveland Cavaliers at the age of 26 in 2010. Tim Tebow receives intense scrutiny at the age of 25. Tiger Woods. Enough said. These people didn't ask to be famous - they were given amazing athletic ability and worked hard. Should they be role models? I'm not so sure. What about more mature, accidentally famous people like US Airways pilot Chesley Sullenberger who was held up as a role model after he successfully crash landed his plane into the Hudson River without losing a single person? Sully was 58 and never asked for fame. He did his job admirably and held up gracefully as an old-school role model under public pressure.
Paula Deen is a 64 year old fame whore that has just been gifted the opportunity to be an inspiring role model. Without a great deal of discernable talent, she doggedly pursued fame and money by shilling fatty fried food and saturated fats. She achieved her goal. That in itself is admirable.
Then she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and hid it for three years so she could continue flogging fatty foods that are hurtful to diabetics and those susceptible to it. If she were young and didn't know any better, that would be shameful. However, she is a 64 year old grandmother. Elders in society should display wisdom. If they are fame chasers, they should be role models. Paula Deen makes me sick. She did neither. Instead of highlighting healthy lifestyle changes, she chose to highlight a drug (Americans love quick fixes) for cash.
Ms. Deen also denies responsibility for pushing unhealthy recipes by telling Al Roker, "I've always eaten in moderation." Mindful Readers, this is a joke. Her physique belies her. Ms. Deen says that though she always ate in moderation, she is now eating lighter and increasing her exercise. The "increased" physical activity she is adding? She says she is walking with her husband more (up to a mile!) and running after her grandkids now. People, grandparents are supposed to run after their grandkids. If they were too unhealthy to do it before, that is a serious problem. And her diet? She wants to show you can continue enjoying food. Hello? Whole foods in their prime ARE delicious. What is wrong with her? Just in case you wanted to argue 60 year olds can't be in shape, here is a photo of 62 year old Vera Wang from a recent Harper's Bazzar interview, who probably has no problem chasing after her kids.
What could Paula Deen do? I would be awed if she used her diagnosis and her fame to be an inspirational role model. She could determinedly set her pudgy jowls, look her fans in the eyes, and say "Y'all know that I have type 2 diabetes. Being fat, not being active, and eating unhealthy foods for years did not help. Now that I have personally learned about how food, exercise, obesity and disease are interrelated, I am very sorry for the food I have encouraged America to eat in the past. I commit to y'all that I am going to manage my diabetes with a healthier lifestyle. I commit to losing 30 pounds through exercise and diet. Watch and support me on this journey."
It's not too late, Paula Deen. Prove me wrong. Inspire us.
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What I ate today: 1 grapefruit, 1 pear, latte, 2 slices multigrain toast with butter, 10 Rising Moon Organics wild chantarelle ravioli + Rao's marinara sauce, biriyana rice + tikka masala sauce, saag paneer, macrobiotic noodles, dried squid, spelt berries, haricort verts, shrimp, 1 Crumbs Blackout cupcake, hot chocolate, 45 oz. water
Exercise: jogged 3 miles, 120 situps, 7 pushups, 25 tricep bends, 3 backbends