The Paula Deen Debacle

This week Al Roker of the Today show interviewed Paula Deen, aka the “Butter Queen”. A hailstorm of criticism ensued from her admission of her three year old diabetes diagnosis to her endorsement deal to promote a costly drug, Victoza manufactured by Novo Nordisk and laden with as many serious side effects as the fat and sugar Deen is so enamored with.  As Eric Webber of Advertising Age said “First, there’s her claim that she waited nearly three years after her diagnosis before going public because knowledge about the disease was limited’.  That’s a story with some big stretch marks. She could have completed a medical residency in diabetes in that amount of time.  If she was that uninformed, then her doctors are worse that her publicists”.

I love Deen’s big, exuberant personality, but as a passionate foodie, I must admit reducing fat and sugar in a recipe without sacrificing taste is far more challenging than throwing an extra stick of butter into it. I recall a conversation with a Plus Size Plum customer and Savannah  resident who dined at Deen’s The Lady and Son’s restaurant where even a healthy side salad is topped with fried onion rings.  She said, “I love food, but it was a fat and sugar fest with few healthy choice options”.

Paula Deen is not responsible for our bad food choices.  But what I do hold her accountable for is the absurdity her commitment to sacrifice sweet tea to maintain a healthier lifestyle.  I don’t know anyone plus size who continues to consume high sugar drinks in favor of calories contained in food!  And, I do hold her responsible for sitting on this news.  I find it terribly ironic and disingenuous Star Jones defended Deen’s right to confess her diabetes when she felt it was right time. The timing was more based on her closing her lucrative endorsement deal with her drug company than being a force for positive change.

Paula Deen simply personifies the celebrity as a blatant opportunist responding to criticism by pledging an unspecific portion to diabetes only after the media fall out.  She’s no different from the celebrity who breaks up a marriage and becomes a human rights advocate to polish up her image.  We are constantly being manipulated by celebrities ready to cash in on their Q rating by providing us with inferior quality goods or misinformation.  Why are we surprised these celebrities aren’t trained chefs or experienced designers? The Kardashians with their overpriced substandard collection at Sears are a prime example of the narcissistic exploitation that exists today.  Not only are we paying higher prices for celebrity licenses,  now we can get angry at them for misinforming us, too.