Let’s Cut Paula Some Slack
While I’m no fan of Paula Deen (I don’t watch her show or ever intend to cook any of her recipes), I was sorry to hear that she has diabetes. Even more troubling to me, however, is the vitriolic wrath against her.
Yes, she’s overweight. Yes, her cooking is unhealthy. Yes, she probably could have prevented this fate had she eaten more healthfully and exercised more throughout the years. Still, is that a reason to condemn the poor woman?
And there’s another point … the money. Yes, she has a drug deal and will profit from it. So, is that so wrong? Really, what celebrity with any kind of press isn’t profiting in a multitude of ways from it? Kare for a Kardashian Kandle anyone?
Where is all this judgement coming from? I think it’s human nature … it’s easier to deride Ms. Deen for overeating than to look at perhaps our own frailties and weaknesses. Who among us hasn’t had too many desserts? Emotionally overate? Drunk too much? Possibly become a smoker? Maybe gained that 15-20+ pounds (which is bad for anyone’s health)? Hasn’t exercised enough? Swears too much?
No, rather than look upon Ms. Deen with some empathy and compassion, we’d rather skin her alive, saying that she’s a hypocrite, lazy, and, one of the last acceptable prejudicial words around, FAT. Guilty! Sinful! Let’s bring out the Scarlett letter “F” for “Fat” for this woman!!
So far the best piece I’ve seen about the situation was in the New York Times by Julia Moskin. Moskin highlights food writer Virginia Willis who said that “criticisms directed at Ms. Deen often reflect sexism and stereotyping about the South, in addition to food snobbery. ‘No one vilifies Michelin chefs for putting sticks of butter in their food,’ she said. ‘But when a Southern woman does it, that’s tacky.’”
This got me thinking that the Deen situation is about more than judgement. It’s about sexism too which still very much persists in the food world – and not just in the South. In terms of being a Foodie, I definitely feel there’s a double standard between the genders.
Bourdain, of course, weighed in on Paula this week via Twitter: “Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later.” Meantime, he seems to be the King of Potty Humor these days as well as a free-wheeler when it comes to describing food experiences in sexual terms. Eater.com reports these nicely by posting “The Quotable Bourdain: Just the One-Liners” after each Layover show (this one, for example, from Amsterdam has several graphic sex and potty humor bombs).
Meanwhile, Giada plugs away at her comparatively modest (yet incredibly successful) cooking show, Giada At Home. It has been noted that she really enjoys her food, almost to the point of having a sexual experience on screen. And she supposedly has a cult following of men who watch her just for that.
While I totally agree that Giada loves her own cooking (as she should), I’m dismayed that it’s 2012 and we somehow find Giada’s food enjoyment potentially more jarring than Bourdain’s graphic, in-your-face sex and potty talk antics.
So where does this leave me, a woman who obviously LOVES food? Well, I certainly can’t go Bourdain on you … can you even imagine a female Bourdain? Throwing out sexual innuendos like they’re Valley slang? Yeah, that would help the blog …
Maybe we just all just take a deep breath and regroup. Is all this judgement against Paula really needed? And what about this sexist attitude that seems to be lingering around about food enjoyment? Maybe we should be looking inward more and lashing out at Paula less.