[Content Note: This post contains discussion of fat hatred and disablism.]
I've spent the past two hours (give or take) tweeting my fingers off about fat hatred and the fact that, no, Paula Deen allegedly having diabetes is not, in fact, "justice" for her particular culinary oeuvre, which centers food associated with fatness.
(Yes, it's true that rich foods make some people fat and/or unhealthy; it is also true, however, that rich foods do not make other people fat and/or unhealthy; it is further true that foods not associated with fatness make some people fat and/or unhealthy. You may detect a patten here! A pattern that suggests people are not Bunsen burners!)
I joined the effort to push back against this cruelty. I pointed out that the Amish eat a diet similar to Paula Deen's (and frankly, no one knows how she eats on a daily basis, just what she is shown to be cooking on her show). The Amish also have half our rate of Type II diabetes. Researchers believe that their lifestyle of doing without modern conveniences and their hard work on farms, adding up to an equivalent of 20 miles worth of walking per day, has insulated them from high cholesterol and diabetes.
But it isn't really about the science with the people laughing at Paula today, it's about dealing with their own health fears by finding some reason that she is vulnerable while they are not. They forget that there are a variety of risk factors--just getting older is one--and latch on to some obvious difference that makes them feel safe. As a society we do this to pretty much anyone who has the misfortune to get sick or injured--or raped. Yes this is the same category of thing as rape-blaming and shaming done to women and for much the same reason. We make ourselves feel safer if we can find a reason why misfortune struck this person we know instead of us, like it is a magic talisman we can place between ourselves and danger.
It's time we found a better way to deal with our fears and offered compassion instead of blame and shame.
See also http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/diabetes-myths/