Surprise! Paula Deen has type 2 diabetes—the type most commonly caused by high-fat, high-sugar diets. Just kidding, that wasn’t really surprising at all. But what will shock you is that she’s already set to make a small fortune off her diagnosis, thanks to a multimillion dollar deal with the pharmaceutical company Novartis to be their newest spokesperson. Her food already gave me the creeps, but the way she’s turning profits on an abominably unhealthy lifestyle is just disgusting.
Deen, the 64-year-old “queen of Southern Cuisine,” has long been shameless about her love for unhealthy foods, despite avid public criticism. Why are Americans fat? A lot of people say Paula Deen, or at least the kind of food she’s known for cooking. Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain has called her “the worst, most dangerous person to America,” and said she should “think twice before telling an already obese nation that it’s OK to eat food that is killing us.” When she released her kids cookbook, Barbara Walters confronted her about why she’s willing to promote a diet that’s clearly connected to childhood obesity. Maya Goodwin and Jocelyn Greer‘s website, PAULADEENISMS, is entirely devoted to calling out her unhealthy recipes.
But her response has never been to modify her cooking; in response to criticisms like Anthony Bourdain’s, she plays her cards as a working class mother:
You know, not everybody can afford to pay $58 for prime rib or $650 for a bottle of wine. My friends and I cook for regular families who worry about feeding their kids and paying the bills … It wasn’t that long ago that I was struggling to feed my family, too.
But as the new spokesperson for Novartis, she may have to change her tune: Diabetes drugs will run you a lot more than healthy food. And many wonder how she’ll handle her breakup with butter; drugs or not, she’ll have to change her diet and cooking to address her new health concerns.