Paula Deen Critics Aren’t Elitist (Or Fat-Shaming)

Regardless of the culprit, we’ve lost touch with the fundamentals of how to eat. And that has affected many more facets of our society than personal choice. Unlike many public health advocates, I don’t believe in government policies that limit this freedom of choice. But that doesn’t mean unhealthy attitudes and ideas about food shouldn’t be stigmatized or questioned. When you’re operating outside the realm of government mandates or assigning individuals full blame, stigmas and norms are the best tool you’ve got for influencing behavior.

Now any time you endorse stigmas around diet, people leap on you as demonizing or insulting the overweight, so let me clarify that that’s not what I mean. I’m not suggesting anyone increase judgement or ire towards individuals (whose habits you can’t know based on their weight or appearance alone), but toward the whole system of unhealthy ideas and beliefs that make up the American mindset toward food. And as a public spokesperson for this mindset, Paula Deen is an appropriate target for its critics.

I don’t think we should “let Paula Deen eat fried butter in peace.” And I don’t think we should overlook the fact that she’s only opened up about her diabetes after partnering with a diabetes drug company. I don’t think we should let her get away with pushing the narrative that it costs too much to eat healthfully (it doesn’t). Or with others framing Deen’s caricature of southern cooking as some sort of proud tradition, the likes of which ‘northern snobs’ can’t understand.

Deen says she cooks for those without the privilege to “pay $58 for prime rib or $650 for a bottle of wine.” I’m sorry, but there’s a wide range of food options between $58 prime rib and deep fried lasagna. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems more condescending to suggest that Krispy Kreme burgers are an unflappable symbol of the average American diet than to suggest that all Americans, regardless of what region they live in, should try to unlearn unhealthy habits and eat better.

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    • Kate

      Not elitist? When the Barefoot Contessa makes a steak, tops it with butter and a heavy cream/ gorgonzola concoction people ooh and aaah because she’s rich. Paula Deen who specializes in down home food get criticized. I think it is very much elitist.

      • factchecker

        I agree, but it seems paula promotes one type of cuisine, and seems to try to “hide” and excuse her promotion of a drug and her cooking, by saying that in the south we eat vegetables and how all the folks don’t eat southern cuisine, as I said before southern cooking was a cheap way,slaves
        and other folks use available cheap,simple, produce to fill up.

        Southern cuisine is rarely healthy, throwing in collard greens here and there isn’t an example of a dish that can be healthy, sure you can give and take and just limit ingredients to rice and beans, and use certain staples but the majority of foods were “Designed” to be calorie
        rich to give folks the energy they need to plant cotton/farming.

    • janetmurill

      The types of free samples you can get from “Get Official Samples” are shampoo, coffee, diapers, medicine, greeting cards and more.

    • Anna

      I urge Paula to get the filmmaker’s Specialized diabetes diet and do not take the medications

      The Anti Obesity drug makers and diabetes drug makers take in 10 billion$$$$ every year with no cure!!

      Food Chemicals are the cause of the diabetes and obesity crisis The FDA and Drug makers know this and are laughing to the Billionaire$$$ bank

      The food chemicals break the gut(insulin) and this is the cause of the diabetes and obesity crisis

      A filmmaker has been reversing diabetes and Obesity WITHOUT MEDICATIONS in now 10 countries and the drug makers do not promote the story
      just google SPIRIT HAPPY DIET

    • Stefanie

      “Misconceptions like vegetarians and vegans”? Are you out of your mind? Look at nature itself; our closest relates (apes) nearly never eat food (besides a bug here and there maybe) and sinds when would it be natural to drink milk from other animals, supposed for baby’s of the same species for a short time?

    • Eric Starson

      People think diabetes is all about sugar, but the saturated fat in meat and dairy appears to be the main culprit: