Diabetes is hilarious*

So your friend posted this link on Facebook with an outraged comment, huh?

Helpful note:

I literally do not believe any of the things said below in this article. This is satire. I wrote this because I am really, really, really tired of people making diabetes jokes, which I do not think are at all funny. They are cruel and they pick on vulnerable people who are dealing with a difficult condition.

“A common feature of satire is strong irony…This ‘militant’ irony or sarcasm often professes to approve of (or at least accept as natural) the very things the satirist wishes to attack.”

This post calls out the incorrect assumptions people are making when they judge others for having diabetes, or make jokes about it.

That said, the hallmark of poorly-written satire is the need to explain the definition of satire, so I think I’m done writing satire for a while. I am sorry I hurt people in the attempt.

Looking for ways to be hip? Our tipsters are on the case!

TREND ALERT: Jokes about diabetes are totally trendy, because diabetes is hilarious!

Let’s break this trend down to essentials, to get a better grip on what makes things funny:

  1. Mostly fat people get diabetes (also unwhite people and poor people and old people)
  2. Classy people know that food is unhealthy (refined carbs!!)
  3. Only gross people (fat, unwhite, poor, old people) eat food
  4. Gross people are not classy (or healthy)
  5. Diabetes is nature’s punishment for being gross
    1. (And un-classy)

Put it all together and you get devastating wit.

We all know that diabetes (type 2, the yucky kind) is the world’s premier disease caused by being gross. It is also a hilarious indictment of your worthlessness as a human being.

In case you missed the memo, there are two types of people in the world: good people and bad people.

Good people do good things like exercise and eat vegetables, “take care of themselves” as directed by medical professionals and Craigslist personal ads, are good-looking, describe themselves as “upper middle class,” are mostly white, go to university, work hard to stay thin, inspire bonerz, and come from families without a strong history of diabetes, or other endocrine or autoimmune diseases. In short, they are morally superior and make the world a better place.

When they get sick, it is a tragedy.

Bad people do bad things like not “taking care of themselves” which means they steal money from rich taxpayers to underwrite their gluttony, don’t have the gumption to make money or go to university or lose weight, tolerate having losers in their families, are not bone-worthy, are too tired from their shitty jobs to exercise or read Mark Bittman, maintain dark skin, and are generally yucky. They are everything that is wrong with the world.

When they get sick, it is hilarious.

Back in old-timey days, we used to divide poor people up by whether they were “worthy” or “unworthy.” This was a generous and benevolent way of making sure taxpayers didn’t waste their hard-earned money on gross people. In our advanced modern times, we have learned to apply this idea to sick people: are you worthy of our respect? Because there is really only so much to go around.

If you get sick while in the act of being gross, well I am sorry, but that makes you a burden, and you also probably brought it on yourself.

Gross people eat gross food, like carbs. Gross food causes gross people to get gross diseases. When you get a gross disease, it is then your responsibility to cure yourself through reeducation about ways to not be so gross.

Here are some tips:

1. Insulin resistance causes weight gain, making it more difficult for people with diabetes to lose weight? Maybe you should try losing weight, and stop being so gross.

2. Type 2 diabetes is highly heritable? Try not having such a gross family.

3. Type 2 diabetes is highly associated with socioeconomic status? Get a job and stop spending all your money on Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

4. Type 2 diabetes is highly associated with being of Aboriginal, Asian, African, South Asian, or Hispanic descent? Way to play “the race card.” Try personal responsibility.

5. Not having enough food is associated with both “obesity” and diabetes? Maybe try eating even less.

6. Type 2 diabetes tends to occur more in older adults? Old people are gross. Try not being so old.


*Not actually hilarious.

Disclaimer: the preceeding is a work of satire, inspired by Rape is Hilarious.

I do not think most diabetes jokes are clever or funny. I do not think older adults or fat people or poor people are gross. I use the term “unwhite” as an expression of Newspeak intended to lampoon Eurocentric beliefs and attitudes, and do not think people of Asian, African, Aboriginal, South Asian or Hispanic descent are gross.

I also do not think it is coincidence that a disease highly associated with marginalized populations has suddenly become a bastion of trendy humour. Because who’s going to argue?

However, in doing so, I do not hate freedom, free speech, or America ™. I also don’t have any problem with people using humour to cope with their own lived experience. But when humour is used to further marginalize people, while betraying and promoting loathsome, sophomoric stereotypes…no. I don’t think it’s hilarious.

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149 Comments

  1. Posted March 6, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    I totally agree with this, the only thing I would add is that the white people who DO get diabetes are clearly white trash, and, well, trash is gross so there you go.

    I felt like this was implicitly already in here but that it was worth saying anyway.

    • Posted March 6, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      Good point. Thank you for adding it.

    • Emmers
      Posted March 15, 2012 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      Which has the extra-fun bonus that the phrase “white trash” is itself inherently racist! Wooooo these people and their clever, clever, clever jokes.

  2. Julia
    Posted March 6, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    *applause*

  3. Sandra
    Posted March 6, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    as a very white, post-college educated, upper middle class woman I can’t even get diagnosed with diabetes, despite having every disease marker in the book. I am, however, encouraged to “eat right” (they go on to define that as either “whole grain”–so I can stuff myself full of whole grain donuts and diet soda until I have a diabetic crisis that can’t be ignored–or as “paleo” because everyone knows that starchy carbs were the food of the peasants and the entitled nobility-types who deserve health can afford all that super-healthy grass finished meat and organic local produce). So if I’m not as skinny and relentlessly active as a Kardashian, it is still somehow my fault and I don’t really have any auto-immune diseases that might promote diabetes and no one will even look for them–here have a Prozac, it’s just like a vitamin for your brain!

    • Posted March 6, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

      Oh God I could just go on and on about peasant starches and nobility diets!

      • Emmers
        Posted March 6, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

        Is…is that a thing? I’m scared to Google…

        • Posted March 6, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

          Not in those exact words, but yes. I guess you could say it’s a thing!

      • Marilyn
        Posted March 7, 2012 at 11:00 am | Permalink

        My mother used to call potatoes and bread peasant food when I grew up. Her father who was very poor and had only an eighth grade education ate bread at every meal so she saw bread as peasant food. When I in my early thirties and she came for a visit she insulted me for having a freezer full of bread. I love bread and I don’t see it as peasant food. I still eat bread several times a day, most of it bought at the bakery section of the grocery store.

        • Posted March 7, 2012 at 11:05 am | Permalink

          Starches are historically cheaper, filling food that poor people have used to round out the diet for centuries. And despite all the recent alarmism about grains (and carbs in general) being universally bad for people, I have a really hard time swallowing the idea that a staple food we have relied on since ancient Rome (and probably earlier) is suddenly poison.

          I think the real reason people make these universal judgments is classism. That’s not to say some people really DON’T do better with fewer carbs, or fewer grains, or fewer sources of gluten in their diet – but it is to say that you cannot categorically call an entire food category “unhealthy” and act like that applies to everyone. Or that prejudice has nothing to do with your judgment.

          I love bread, I love pasta, I love wheat. My body handles carbs well, and I tolerate gluten just fine. So anyone who wants to try to make the argument that my diet is somehow inferior, or that I should give up food that has been culturally and biochemically important to my ancestors for generations, should really just go toss.

          Not to put too fine a point on it :)

          • Claire
            Posted March 7, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

            I *heart* you for this! Thank you!

          • Roxanne Rieske
            Posted March 7, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

            At the other end of the spectrum: I don’t handle really starchy foods well, and I’m developing weird reactions to gluten, so please don’t call me elitist because I choose not to have grains and potatoes as a diet staple. I thrive on a diet of lean meats and vegetables, and there is nothing wrong with that either. My family has a history of rampant type II diabetes. I don’t have it yet, and those of us in my family that have managed to ward it off have done so by reducing/restricting starchy diet staples. I don’t completely shun them, but I don’t base my diet around them, either.

          • Posted March 7, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

            I absolutely do not think people who can’t tolerate grains or gluten or starches are elitist. In fact, I said as much. Since you didn’t seem to read it, I’ll repeat it for you:

            That’s not to say some people really DON’T do better with fewer carbs, or fewer grains, or fewer sources of gluten in their diet – but it is to say that you cannot categorically call an entire food category “unhealthy” and act like that applies to everyone.

            I don’t have any problem with people eating or NOT eating whatever foods they decide – my only problem is when they try to universalize that experience to everyone else. I have plenty of clients who don’t do well with grains or gluten, and I would never call them elitist. In fact, I’ve been known to help people learn how to healthily cut those foods out of their diet when they cause problems.

            But using convenient evolutionary explanations to categorically devalue food people have relied on for thousands of years, suggesting that they are universally unhealthy for everyone – conveniently, the same food that poorer people traditionally have had to rely on, and that “trashy” people are identified as eating – yes, that is absolutely elitist. And I am not afraid to call that bullshit out for what it is.

            It sounds like you’re eating what works for you, and that makes me glad. As long as you’re staying out of other people’s business with THEIR eating, then I really have no investment in judging what you eat (or don’t eat.)

          • Alexie
            Posted March 9, 2012 at 7:44 am | Permalink

            And guess which cuisines of the world are now the ‘best’ to eat? Peasant cuisines! The bouchons of Lyon, the hawker foods of Asia, everything from Italy, the ‘Mediterranena diet’ (which doesn’t existas an entity in any real Mediterranean culture)… peasant food, the lot of it. Poor peasants who had to make do with basic ingredients learned the art of making them as tasty as possible, and it’s this work that remains the basis of all posh food, from Michelin star restaurant cuisine through to Tuscan cooking classes . Whereas aristocratic food has generally vanished from history. Anybody remember going to a restaurant that serves lifted swan? Or eaten larks’ tongues in honey?

          • Posted March 9, 2012 at 9:20 am | Permalink

            Absolutely. I’ve been having this conversation with a friend lately, particularly about the “Mediterranean diet” (btw I totally bought and read that book [Jenkins, 1994] when it came out many years ago, and I cooked two things from it and then never opened it again, haha. Mostly I was dazzled by the descriptions of some kind of ideal, mystical, vaguely Euro lifestyle that connoted discriminating taste and superior health. I’m not immune to this shit either.)

          • IrishUp
            Posted March 9, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink

            The other thing about “peasant food”? When you seriously evaluate native cuisines (by which I mean native to the historic populations of a given region) around the globe, what you find is that the mix of ingredients in a given dish and the cooking and/or preparation techniques tend to maximize the nutritional content of the foods. The converse of this is that when native cuisines are interfered with (generally by global/colonial policies) the nutritional status of these populations suffers on average.

            Eg: traditional torilla preparation by soaking maize kernels in lime water enhanced calcium content (precolumbian Mesoamericans did not by and large herd or use milk) sofened the grain, and selectively enhanced bioavailabilty of key amino acids. When the tomato was exported from the New World, it was quickly adapted into meat-dishes all over Europe: acid enhances the bioavailability of iron. OTOH, part of the food scarcity in Haiti is due to the erradication of native Creole pigs – very small and quick growing and able to thrive on native vegitation. The “replacement” pigs from the US don’t do as well and take too many resources for people to keep. I took this great anthropology course in college called “Nutrition, Growth, and Development” that covered this stuff.
            Fun online reference:
            http://inside.mines.edu/fs_home/jsneed/courses/LISS.380-83/LISS.381/syllabus/week.1/session.2/agriculture/maize/index.shtml

          • Posted March 9, 2012 at 9:26 am | Permalink

            The converse of this is that when native cuisines are interfered with (generally by global/colonial policies) the nutritional status of these populations suffers on average.

            See? Yes. And this is why it doesn’t actually make sense to just figure out where the “healthiest people” live in the world, and then figure out what they eat, and try to export that entire diet wholesale to another country and another culture of people (for the sake of making them “healthier.”)

            Oversimplification, exoticism, and wish-fulfillment all at their finest!

          • Cari
            Posted March 9, 2012 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

            LOve this!

          • Meredith
            Posted March 11, 2012 at 10:10 am | Permalink

            Hear hear. I just made some 12-grain Irish soda bread this weekend in honour of my potato-eating peasant ancestors.

          • Posted March 12, 2012 at 8:52 am | Permalink

            I actually get really upset when people start promoting the “but carbs are UNHEALTHY” thing because… culture! Different foods (many of which involve omg carbs) are particularly embedded in particular cultures. Like, I’m German and you will pry my bread from my cold dead hands. I grew up eating bread for one to two meals a day always and would’ve most likely stuck with it if not for Disability Stuff that makes it unfeasible; there are still parts of my psyche that go “but why so many hot meals? Why so little bread? WHERE IS THE BREAD?!” at me, and it is so relaxing to slip back into that pattern of meals when I visit my parents. If you then take away potatoes as well, you’ve just destroyed a huge chunk of my cultural dishes and I hope you’ll understand if I get upset at you for declaring all of these “unhealthy”.

            And that goes across lots of cultures, you know? I remember speaking to a Chinese friend of mine who told me about the time she’d lived with no kitchen and hence been unable to cook rice and how she got so freaked out by this that she ended up phoning up another friend at midnight begging him to bring her rice. Because not having rice was just /wrong/ and upsetting to her.

            It’s just… I don’t know the science on carbs being unhealthy but I am Dubious. What I am pretty sure about, though, is that telling someone they have to stop eating all or almost all the foods that they grew up eating, all the old recipes passed down from grandmothers, all the nostalgia-inducing favourite dishes from childhood, all the things that equal home to them, in favour of some “designated to be healthy” foods that are unfamiliar and not their culture… most likely that isn’t going to be healthy. Because mental health is health as well, and not being able to keep in touch with cultural stuff like that can affect it very badly. I may have a particular viewpoint on this because I’m an expat who partially grew up in another country, but I think this goes for a lot of people.

          • Posted March 12, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink

            Because mental health is health as well, and not being able to keep in touch with cultural stuff like that can affect it very badly.

            Absolutely. There are people who are willing to make this trade-off, and that is totally 100% their choice to make – but not everyone is, and they are equally as entitled to make that choice, and not be judged negatively for it.

            My problem, as always, is with universalizing rules like this – not just making a personal choice to apply that to one’s own life. Especially when those rules seek to remove an entire staple, or food group, or macronutrient from the diet.

          • Posted March 12, 2012 at 10:43 am | Permalink

            Yeah, I definitely didn’t want to come off as saying that nobody can make this trade-off. For some people, this isn’t such an issue! And hey, everyone’s different, there’s nothing wrong with that. But for me it is a big issue, for a lot of other people it is, and nobody gets to tell us that we have to do this.

          • DessertFirst
            Posted March 14, 2012 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

            I love bread and other starches, too. Apropos to this, you might enjoy the following article:

            http://chronicle.com/article/What-Would-Great-Grandma-Eat-/130890/

          • Posted March 14, 2012 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

            This is, indeed, a great article. Thank you.

    • Posted March 6, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      hahahaha “prozac is a vitamin for your brain”! So many lolz!

  4. Posted March 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Another prime example of just how stupid people can be and just how low media and attention seekers will go. Way to call them out on their ignorance.

  5. Heather
    Posted March 6, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Just last night I was watching some clips from the latest Saturday Night Live, and a “fat gross white guy dying of diabetes” joke flew by before I even had a chance to say “huh?,” much less, “Dying of diabetes is not hilarious!”

    • Posted March 6, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      And that is actually what provoked this post – the SNL sketch from this weekend. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back, because I’ve been seeing so many diabetes jokes flinging around the ether lately.

      • IrishUp
        Posted March 7, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

        Yes, dying of diabetes is HI – LARRIUSSSSS!
        It was LOLZAMINUTE for my mom to lose her mother and brother to diabetes within 18mo of each other. EVEN FUNNIER that they were 49 and 21yo respectively. Who wan’t to be OLD and gross, after all?

        And the FUN we had LAST Christmas when Mom was in the hospital after becoming unconcious from hypoglycemia due to her new meds on Christmas Eve? Hi-jinks for ALLL lemme tellya!

        Well, what can you expect. We have such a gross, peasant family
        history.

        Great post, Michelle.

        • Posted March 7, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

          God, I’m sorry. That’s awful.

          • IrishUp
            Posted March 7, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

            Thank you. And really, thank you for this post.

            Thankfully, DM treatment is MUCH better now than it was for my Nannie and uncle. But it really grates my gorganzola that people treat diseases as if they are the result of not being a good enough person. Hence giving one permission to mock and abuse them. Hate the whole dynamic, and you did a great takedown of it.

            The idea that we can control our health is illusory. At best, it’s a misunderstanding of what risk reduction really means. At worst, it’s Just World Fallacy in action.

          • usedtobeavegetarian
            Posted March 7, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

            Just World Fallacy — I love that!

          • Posted March 7, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

            I think the Just World Fallacy (along with the human fear of death) is at the root of a lot of the bullshittery we see around health and weight discrimination these days. (And discrimination in general.)

            After all, if everyone gets what they deserve, then they must have done something to deserve what they got, and that means you don’t have to feel bad or guilty when people are worse off than you!

          • Cactus Wren
            Posted March 8, 2012 at 2:25 am | Permalink

            I’ve called it the juxtaposition of Puritan ethic with magical thinking. Puritan ethic: “Anything fun or pleasurable or enjoyable in any way is sinful and deserving of punishment.” Magical thinking: “This will never happen to me. To other people, but not to me. I will obey the taboos. I will never touch the forbidden foods, will listen to the oracles and avoid the forbidden substances and never even indulge in the forbidden THOUGHTS, and thus I will be safe and bad things will never happen to me.”

          • Posted March 8, 2012 at 9:33 am | Permalink

            Yes, that’s perfect. There’s a huge dose of suspicion about anything pleasurable, because it probably is BAD somehow. I think this is a great analysis, the combination of the two, and I will probably steal it for a future post :D

  6. Posted March 6, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    I’m all against blaming those with chronic disease and making assumptions about their role is causing diseases such as Type2DM. That said, I fail to see the benefit of this post. Yes, there is a higher prevalence of this condition among those who are of various ethnic backgrounds, most notably American Indians(Pima, I believe in particular), Chinese, and Hispanic groups. Yes, the risk increases with obesity and sedentary lifestyle, though thin whites like my Dad hade type 2 as well.
    So let’s talk about disease development and inheritability.Having a genetic predisposition you can’t do anything about. You’re stuck. But being sedentary you can do something about, as well as a climbing weight outside of your normal range, if it results from excessive intake. If eating behaviors and activity are in place, you have done your part. If not, you can certainly lower your risk.

    Identifying higher risk populatiions isn’t “stupid” or prejudice. It makes for identifying disease in these populations more likely to happen before there are secondary effects–DM is typically first identified after you’ve lived with it for way too long! It’s not to blame those from an ethnic background, but believe it or not, to better serve them.
    Lori Lieberman, RD, CDE, MPH, LDN

    • Posted March 6, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      SIGH

      • I_Sell_Books
        Posted March 6, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

        Ha!

    • Posted March 6, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

      Lori, I think you missed the point. This post is about those who joke about diabetes, and the fact that they probably feel free to joke about diabetes because it disproportionately affects those people who are already marginalized – thus, who is going to call them on it and point out that, hey, making jokes about a deadly condition is actually not very funny? It has nothing to do with thinking that identifying higher risk populations is “stupid.” That’s pretty much the opposite of the point of this post. In fact, I think it’s important to point out who is at higher risk, and then to ask – why are they at higher risk? What should we do about that?

      …and this is why I wrote a rather lengthy disclaimer at the bottom of the post.

      I also think that one’s risk can be reduced, through various lifestyle changes, provided one has the resources to make those changes. I think we should provide people with those resources, rather than just insist that they “fix” the problem themselves via bootstraps. The stereotyping I’m referring to is NOT “more people of colour get diabetes” — that’s not a stereotype, that is an actual fact — but rather, “People who get diabetes are worthless and lazy and probably brought it on themselves.” Which is a stereotype that should sound preeeeetty familiar if you’ve ever taken a look at racist stereotypes.

      I should probably point out that this topic is rather close to my heart, given that I have had lots of family members with type 2 diabetes, and my last “real job” was working at a diabetes clinic. So please trust me when I say I care about diabetes a whole lot.

      • Posted March 6, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the clarification! Sorry I didn’t get it! That’s what happens, I guess, when I try to read these things at the end of a long patient day!
        My apologies for putting my foot in my mouth and taking the space on your blog to do it!

        • Posted March 6, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

          No problem – it happens to the best of us!

    • Heather
      Posted March 7, 2012 at 1:31 am | Permalink

      haha- wow.. did anyone else see the point go zooming over her head?

      • Heather
        Posted March 7, 2012 at 1:32 am | Permalink

        ah well, i guess i should have refrained from commenting until after I finished reading and I would have seen the explanation and apology. well there goes my foot in my mouth.. blech, i need to wash this thing.

        • Posted March 7, 2012 at 10:09 am | Permalink

          Bears repeating – It happens to the best of us :)

    • JMS
      Posted March 7, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      Many researchers are suggesting that obesity and Type II diabetes are both symptoms of insulin resistance, and that naming obesity a “cause” of T2 diabetes is both inaccurate and unhelpful in making treatment decisions.

      I personally think that the concept that “T2 diabetes is caused by obesity” is going to be as thoroughly discredited in the next 10-20 years as the concept “the majority of gastric ulcers are caused by stress” was in the last 10-20 years.

      • If only
        Posted March 7, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

        The difference with ulcers is that society does not really stigmatize stress. There is no such thing as “stress-shaming”. There is no stress equivalent of the slurs obese people face. A stressed person walking down the street will not be harrassed and insulted. Nobody was ever teased for kissing a stressed girl at a party.

        The meme that “fat people are just lazy and the world punishes them with diabetes” is far, far stronger than the meme that “stressed people get ulcers”, and it will not die nearly so quickly, alas.

  7. Posted March 6, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    you = *actually* hi-fucking-larious. Also – right.

  8. Sarah
    Posted March 6, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    THANK YOU. This is so good. You hit all of the memes, the dogwhistles, and the “just-trying-to-be-helpful” tips! I will actually use this as a reference the next time I need to educate someone about why their fat-shaming is utter bullshit.

  9. Posted March 6, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    My mom has type 1. She has had it for almost 45 years. The toll it has taken on her body is heartbreaking. There will never be a cure for diabetes when so many people/companies are making a profit from it.

    • Posted March 6, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

      I am sorry to hear about your mom, but I’m hoping the best for her. It can be a devastating illness.

  10. usedtobeavegetarian
    Posted March 6, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    Michelle — I would LOVE it if you did a post on paleo! I have so many friends who have given up teh grainz, and it’s making my head spin.

    Also, a friend of a friend is the latest target of Rush Limbaugh’s misogynist spew: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbercovici/2012/03/06/heres-the-woman-rush-limbaugh-is-attacking-today-totally-bizarre-she-says/

    Her new book “The American Way of Eating” looks at food and class without the Michael Pollan “everyone should just grow their own organic vegetables” privilege.

    • Posted March 6, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

      I need to read this book immediately! Thank you.

    • Posted March 7, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      If Rush is attacking her, that’s better to me than a rave review in the NYT Book Review! I must hurry out and get a copy half an hour ago!

      • usedtobeavegetarian
        Posted March 7, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, Michelle & Twistie! I feel exactly the same way.

        As I understand it, she’s a journalist who grew up working-class in the Midwest, so she’s not just talking about why “those people” don’t eat the way she thinks they should.

        • usedtobeavegetarian
          Posted March 7, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

          Haha, I just read the comments about Mark Bittman below. I think that is exactly what she is not. I don’t know her stance on fat, but I do respect her stance on class.

    • Posted March 14, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      Now that I’ve finally opened that tab…

      Oh, hey! I saw some of Tracie McMillan’s stuff on Slate! There are some samples of the book there; it looks pretty good.

  11. Posted March 6, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Michelle. From a fat diabetic who is sick of being vilified for having the same shaped body with the same chronic illness as generations of women before me.

  12. HAEScoach
    Posted March 6, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    Oh how I wish, this irony would reach those who perpetuate these stupid an irrelevent ideas that then add weight to the existing stereotypes, aka medical professionals (except for those that have had the brains to actually analyse and evaluate the data). I am drowing in the these stereotypes and the irony is the counselling unit that uses the stereotype as an example! Also been indicated that if we say anything other than the standard (BS) on any pracs we are providing incorrect information. OMG I wanted to stab someone right there – me giving the wrong information, are you serious? Pretty much most of the information provided by dietitians is incorrect, manipulative and downright harmful particularly in relation to diabetes. Just think about the stereotype above, you can’t tell me that a person fitting that descrption wouldn’t be hunted and persecuted to change their clearly gross behaviour and to no look and be so gross! I’m yet to hear a lecturer refer to any other disease (and I say disease because they consider it to be one) other than obesity and the accompanying line of high risk for diabetes. So thank you Michelle for this read and quiet laugh about the irony that exists.

  13. Jadedamber
    Posted March 6, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    Great read. I have experienced both sides. When I was first diagnosed with autoimmune problems I didn’t get treated too badly, as the daughter of an upper middle class working class with great insurance. When I started working I also had good benefits and was treated for the most part good. When autoimmunity finally made me unable to work and I had to go on disability and medicare I have been treated like dirt. Like I was purposely doing this and I didn’t want to get better and I was/am that burden you mention in your article. It’s taken a very long time to put together a medical team I can trust. It’s not right and it’s not fair. Through all of this I have been overweight and it never became an issue until I was that “burden” on society. I hate how they have lumped size with health. It doesnt work like that and it is detrimental to care.
    I didn’t put these diseases on my wish list, I didn’t ask for them. All I can do is deal the best I can, but they make it so much more stressfull when you need assistance. If doctors focused more on health and listening, instead of just blaming the patient maybe less people would need assistance because they could get help at the beginning, not when it’s to late.

  14. Posted March 6, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    SNL kicking people when they’re down? Whatta shocker!

    This is fabulous, Michelle. I was just thinking today about how bizarre it is that we think some people are worthy of health care and some aren’t, and that people actually think you can give yourself diabetes from eating sugar or fat. I hate to break the news to them, but most people couldn’t develop t2d if they tried.

    • Kate
      Posted March 7, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      Wow, I was having that EXACT same thought yesterday. I was thinking, how awful is it that we as a country (I’m from the US) believe that owning a gun is a more fundamental and defensible right than accessing affordable, safe, high-quality health care? How is it that being able to visit a doctor when you’re sick (and being able to visit one when you’re not sick, to help keep you from getting sick) is not considered a RIGHT??

      • Posted March 7, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

        I’m Canadian, so you can probably guess my thoughts on this one :)

  15. Posted March 7, 2012 at 12:38 am | Permalink

    Even though I think I could do a good 15 minutes of quality stand-up material on having diabetes, diabetes isn’t all that funny in real life.

    If I overheard someone making a joke about people with diabetes being gross, well, I think I might just have to whip out my glucometer and a lancet and squirt my blood at them. I wouldn’t aim for eyes or mouth or mucous membranes, but I would at least try to drip a little blood on them.

    But for a funny joke about diabetes — some friends and I were joking about the blood of people with diabetes or hyperlipidemia being potentially tastier than other people’s blood, making us a target for vampires. Or, perhaps, too sweet, too rich, and therefore undesirable for the vampires who were watching their carbs or fat intake. I suppose vampires don’t worry much about heart disease and diabetes, since they are immortal.

    • Posted March 7, 2012 at 8:36 am | Permalink

      Reminds me of the beginning of Andrew Fox’s “Fat White Vampire Blues” — a New Orleans vampire decides to start a diet by stalking a skinny athlete and finds his prey’s blood to be thin, watery and tasteless.

    • Posted March 7, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

      I think you just gave me an idea for a Buffy the Vapire Slayer fantic!

  16. Margaret
    Posted March 7, 2012 at 3:33 am | Permalink

    I am a doctor. I have 3 degrees, 2 diplomas, membership of a Royal College. I happen to be white. All non-gross, eh?

    However I have poor, foreign forebears with diabetes and plenty of mental health issues. Gross.

    I am fat. I have diabetes. Gross.

    So, I can be patronised and pitied by my own peers. Marvellous, eh? Now if I would only get thin and non-gross…. funny how that never seems to work.

    Fascinatingly, childhood emotional abuse is associated with a with raised risk of obesity. Maternal emotional abuse in early childhood substantially raises the risk of diabetes even after adjusting for obesity.

    It’s possibly less fascinating when you’re on the receiving end of it, like me.

    One thing I can do as a doctor in the inner city – try and treat my own patients with the respect they deserve inherently as human beings, no matter how difficult life experiences have dented them. AKA let’s be kind, people.

    • Emgee
      Posted March 8, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      Wow, I learned something from you, thanks so much for posting this. I can really relate.

    • Posted March 9, 2012 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

      Do you have links to the research on childhood emotional abuse and obesity? I’d be very interested. Thanks.

  17. Charlotte
    Posted March 7, 2012 at 3:59 am | Permalink

    You are ON FIRE with this excellent post. Thank you.

  18. DuckyBelkins
    Posted March 7, 2012 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    I’m so happy you wrote this. When Paula Deen came out as diabetic the jokes made at her expense made me sick, and they were made on websites that are supposed to be above that!

    I know that type 1 and type 2 aren’t exactly the same but my 28 year old, stick thin, boyfriend was just diagnosed with late-onset childhood diabetes and that is so fucking scary!

    I mean, he tries really hard to take good care of himself, more now than ever, but I worry about his future health all the time.

    • Posted March 7, 2012 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      It is scary, and jokes like this just really aren’t funny. Two of the links I put at the start of the post show an appalling example: Patrice O’Neal was a much-beloved comedian who also had type 2 diabetes, and he tried to raise awareness of it with his work. At Charlie Sheen’s Roast (dear gawd), some asshole comedian made diabetes jokes at Patrice’s expense. He didn’t seem to find it all that funny, at least not at the roast. Shortly thereafter? He died of a stroke (related to his diabetes.)

      HAR HAR, I hope the joke was worth it.

      • DuckyBelkins
        Posted March 7, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

        Omg I never even knew about that! That is awful!

      • JMS
        Posted March 7, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

        Oh, what a tragedy that Patrice O’Neal died so young. His insight and wit will be so missed.

        • Posted March 7, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

          Is this sarcasm? I actually don’t know much about him. Except that no one deserves to be humiliated for having a disease that then kills them.

          • JMS
            Posted March 8, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

            No, I’m absolutely serious. He was hilarious. One of the best comedians under 50, and one of the most insightful comedians talking about race in America of any age.

          • Posted March 8, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

            I’m glad to hear it – when I was reading about him, lots of people had nice things like that to say. I really will look up some of his comedy.

  19. Julie
    Posted March 7, 2012 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    This is one of the best things I’ve ever read. Thank you!

  20. DisneyDyke
    Posted March 7, 2012 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    You are awesome. Just that.

  21. Posted March 7, 2012 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    There aren’t enough bravas for this. Bravissima.

    Also, your satire is flawless, and I do love me some gooood satire. (unprocessed, organic, carbless!)

  22. TheSasquatch
    Posted March 7, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Reposted this list to facebook.

    Fangirling alert: I love that you exist, Michelle, you help me in so many ways every day.

    • Posted March 7, 2012 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      Aw thank you! And thanks for spreading the word. I really want people to be able to cite this post every time they hear someone make an ignorant-ass diabetes joke. I’m hoping to offset some of the idiocy.

  23. Timmay
    Posted March 7, 2012 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Ugh, really, you were offended by a joke that was said at a celeb roast?

    • Posted March 7, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      Are you offended that I’m offended?

      The guy DIED afterward. That’s pretty bad, even for a celebrity roast.

      OMG you’re going to have to revoke my “cool as shit” card for this. Just because the point of an event is to tell offensive jokes, doesn’t make the jokes magically not offensive. People are allowed to be offended, even when the offense is intended. Maybe especially when the offense is intended.

  24. diane bluegreen
    Posted March 7, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    just a hearty ‘you go girl’! this is excellent. i like your approach so much because it deals with the real world that many of us live in. thank you! thank you also for sticky up for us gross old people!

  25. Posted March 7, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    You make my day.

  26. Agnes
    Posted March 7, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Best post ever. Health care policy analyst, epidemiologist, and registered dietician Mark Bittman needs to read it about 100 times.

    • JMS
      Posted March 7, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      For the benefit of our non-US and/or non-New York Times colleagues: Mark Bittman is a newspaper writer who isn’t any of those things, but who likes to deliver grand pronunciamenti as if he is. Mostly about how Teh Fatz are ruining society by being so terribly, terribly fat all over the place, but sometimes about how people in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods need to see the light about eating lentils and quinoa.

      • Agnes
        Posted March 7, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

        I’m assuming you know that I was being sarcastic and you are just making things clear for the uninitiated (ah to be blissfully unaware of the man! I wish I could return to that more innocent time.)
        But yes, fatz are costing us about 83 trillion dollars in healthcare spending because there is a direct line from demon sugar to diabetes and every single fat person has it (type 2– not the blameless type 1).
        Food stamps should only be available for beans, rice, organic produce (or better yet– seeds) and it is our right to demand this cause they’re living off our dime.

        • JMS
          Posted March 8, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

          I encountered a fellow US citizen the other day who had somehow entirely missed the whole Mark Bittman nonsense, so I thought a little explanatory might be in order for those who haven’t had to suffer through his ill-informed classist garbage on the regular. ;)

          • Agnes
            Posted March 8, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

            I need to stop reading it, but I can’t!

          • Posted March 8, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

            It’s almost as though…as if…are you possibly…ADDICTED?

          • Posted March 11, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

            LOL!

        • Posted March 11, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

          I debated whether I should link to this, but for those not acquainted with Mark Bittman, here’s a recent “gem”.

          Of course, if you prevent people on food stamps from buying anything with added sugar, they can’t buy things like Cheerios or bread. (No sugar, no yeast!) I’m not 100% clear if he’s advocating that no products with added sugar should be purchased with food stamps, or just ones with an “acceptable” amount, but he does say, “Let me state the obvious: there is no nutritional need for foods with added sugar.” (I notice that in his alternatives to McDonald’s Oatmeal, most of the alternatives have added sugar. Of the 6 recipes, 3 have sugar mixed in with the food, 1 has “honey, for serving” in the ingredients, 1 is for a savory coconut oatmeal pilaf (saturated fat!), and 1 is for plain oatmeal that people may or may not add sugar to–but most people do.)

          • Posted March 12, 2012 at 10:12 am | Permalink

            I am really fucking sick of rich people trying to tell people on food stamps what they should and should not buy with those stamps.

            Required reading: Ami’s Guide to Food Privilege – http://aghhhhhhhhh.livejournal.com/695.html

          • emi11n
            Posted March 12, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

            Aghhhhhh, indeed. What a jackwagon that guy is. I can see a scenario where a sugar ban would mean some kid can’t get cake and ice cream for his birthday, I guess MB thinks poor people should only eat carrots and spinach. Why can’t we treat the poor like ADULTS instead of mentally challenged children who need classy (non-gross) people to fix them and make all their decisions? Besides, putting arbitrary restrictions(i.e, an involuntary diet) on food stamps doesn’t mean they can’t manage to get their hands on those foods anyway, and I’d think that they would buy MORE of these foods when they get the opportunity, since the restriction would have the effect of making the “bad foods” more desirable. Not to mention the nightmare of trying to enforce such a ban. Totally gobsmacked that anyone thinks this would work. Food Privilege evidently carries the side effect of blindness. Yeesh.

    • Posted March 11, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      Despite not thinking of myself as a Michael Pollan fangirl, I’ve actually ended up defending him on FA spaces sometimes because I think he gets caricatured, at best. (I started to explain more here, but then I started to ramble about it, and I was getting really OT.) How can I stay mad at a guy who’s anti-diet food? :) The number of places recommending using nonfat yogurt as a substitute for basically every dairy product ever is ridiculous.

      But Mark Bittman really gets on my nerves. I think he deserves just about everything that’s said about him. And I question his oatmeal-analysis skills. (If he’s not insulted by that, then I don’t know what could insult him.)

      In your list of qualifications, you omitted that he was a runner. A marathon runner. (That one’s actually true.) Just that fact says a lot about his level of privilege. He’s done a lot of writing for Runner’s World. Trigger warning for basically the whole Runner’s World site, BTW.

      • Posted March 12, 2012 at 9:37 am | Permalink

        I should probably stop ragging on Michael Pollan so much :)

        Though I should also probably caution about taking a stance of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” when it comes to fat acceptance and HAES – I’ve been burned more than once, most recently by Arya Sharma. He’s done research that has helped to strengthen the claim that fat people can be healthy and that they’re not dying off in droves as popularly believed…and then he went and did this: https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/its-about-my-heart/

        Not that you have to HATE someone outright (and I don’t actually HATE Michael Pollan, as I’ve had to point out a few times, I just have a lot of problems with his position on food and eating and science), but I do think it’s fair to keep holding them to scrutiny, and not relaxing or compromising on your principles just because someone like Pollan or Sharma is willing to throw us a few crumbs here and there. Examples include, but are not limited to: Yoni Freedhoff, Kelly Brownell, Rebecca Puhl…and the whole Rudd Center, actually.

        • Posted March 12, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

          Oh, I agree. I’m actually kind of bad about most often responding on blogs I like when they write something I disagree with. I’m surprised I haven’t managed to do it to you yet. (Or did I already do it and forget about it because I’ve done it so often?) :)

          I should also say that it’s mostly random commenters that go overboard WRT Michael Pollan, and I wasn’t thinking about you when I wrote it.

          I do think that people will also do the opposite, though; basically, it’s easy sometimes, once someone has categorized people into “enemies” and “allies”, to not look at their individual as critically. So, um, everyone should watch for that. But you’re doing a good job. :)

        • Posted March 13, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

          Ugh, I didn’t see that particular Sharma fail yet. Yup, that’s pretty bad. Thanks for the other link, too.

          (The “No sugar, no yeast!” was inspired by the “No lye, no soap!” gif.

  27. K
    Posted March 7, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Just want to point out that most people of Aboriginal, African, South Asian descent etc don’t develop type II diabetes until they move to the west/adopt a western diet.

    Yes it’s genetic in one sense, but really it’s environmental.

    The “western” way – even of healthy eating – doesn’t work for everyone, esp of people who haven’t had generations of eating wheat etc.

    I don’t think diabetes is funny, and I realize the many, many, complex reasons that inhibit people from accessing healthy foods, I just think the “genetics” argument is a problematic framing.

    Inuits eating traditional diets don’t become super overweight, nor develop diabetes. Similarly, nomadic Kenyans (think the Masai) don’t develop diabetes etc, unless they settle down and become pastoralists and adopt a pastoral/grain diet.

    By blaming genetics it can read as though entire groups of people are at fault (i.e. blaming a race as having “faulty” genetics) which are pretty hard to change outside of eugenics instead of putting the blame (where in my opinion it belongs) to a larger ecosystem of inappropriate food options that some populations are better able to tolerate, perhaps, but that really aren’t good for anyone (heavily refined, processed, chemicalized foods etc). I know that wasn’t your intent, but I just wanted to point out how certain framings can be used to reinforce and not inhibit racist thought.

    • Posted March 7, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

      Good point – thanks.

      It’s true that changing to a completely new diet can be bad for people. But I would be reluctant to limit that to only the “Western” diet. I would be willing to bet that some people could move from a typical Western diet to something else and feel pretty fucking crappy as well.

      I have a big problem with simply pointing out one cultural style of eating as the bad one, and that’s what it mostly sounds like when people throw around terms like “the western diet.” It makes it sound as though it is categorically bad for everyone.

      I’d also like to point out that I don’t believe that it’s inferior genetics or other biological reasons why people from certain ethnic groups get diabetes more often – because I agree that it is genes interacting with environment. But “environment” is not the same thing as JUST DIET.

      You know what else is environmental? Stress. Oppression. Low status. Poverty. Lack of access to appropriate medical care. Cultural genocide.

      I have a feeling that these might play a larger role in the inequal distribution of disease than grains or whatever.

      • Pirra
        Posted March 11, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

        I really love how the old paleo diet argument around grain = bad ignores the fact that many Indigenous peoples did eat grains, just not in the same proportions and nor as highly processed. (Many cultures made flat cakes from ground seeds, nuts and grasses)

        Let’s face it, once upon a time rice was really healthy until we refined the processing which stripped it of it’s nutritional value. Even sugar was once a much healthier food source, until we refined it and refined it until all nutrients were removed.

        Which I think highlights how bad it is to compare diets throughout the ages. And of groups of people. We know we live longer, the question is do we live better? And given that trauma was the most common cause of death for our ancestors, whose to say the diet they ate wouldn’t have resulted in T2D in their later years, if they had in fact lived into their later years?

        If we want to point the finger at food as being the culprit of our diseases then we need to look at why. Because i’d be willing to bet that pointing the finger at the darker skinned and the fatties is merely a way of deflecting the blame from the processes by which we come by our food and the processing we put our food through.

        • Posted March 12, 2012 at 9:58 am | Permalink

          I’m with you on this, but I do have to quibble with the “refining strips all nutrients” argument.

          It can definitely be true, like in the case of the switch to exclusively polished rice in SE Asia causing a bunch of thiamine deficiency, back in the day. But it is not always the case, and sometimes refining actually ADDS nutrients that help prevent population-wide diseases (iodization and folic acid fortification are two great contemporary examples.) And I’m always leery of the term “empty calories” (which you didn’t use, but please indulge me here for a tangent.)

          By definition, calories represent nutrients. No, that doesn’t mean a food that has calories has ALL the nutrients required for survival, were you to live off it exclusively or to live off it as a staple in an otherwise limited diet, but that is true for many unprocessed foods as well. (Try living exclusively off raw leafy greens with nothing added and see how long you last.) But I do think that having a diet that is SOLELY composed of very highly processed foods is likely going to be insufficient for an average person — and even there, you run into exceptions to the rule, as there are certain medical conditions where people can be much healthier on highly processed diets. It’s just not an easy call to make, you know?

          I have also heard the “living longer doesn’t necessarily mean living better!” argument applied to the idea that those of us whose life expectancies are well into the 70s live crappy, fat, unhealthy lives. I totally disagree with that. I would be happy to stand up and defend the quality of my life (and the life of many people around me in the city and country I live in) as being better than that of my ancestors. I think not dying of communicable diseases, or severe nutrient deficiencies, or trauma (like you pointed out) indicates that my life is improved over theirs.

          I have better access to education. I have better access to health care, and that care is of much higher quality than it once was. Communication is nearly effortless and can be very cheap, so I have a lot of social supports at my fingertips. I also have a lot more creature comforts, and while not all of them directly contribute to robust cardiovascular health, they make my life better in lots of other ways. And the presence of these comforts still does not preclude me from going without them, if I choose, for health or other reasons. I also have more leisure time, and more energy, to devote to ENJOYABLE physical exercise if I desire, instead of having to expend every bit of physical energy and time I have scratching out a living from the ground.

          My take on this whole issue, to sum up, would be to give people more choices, not fewer of them. I think processed food is not as evil as people make it out to be, but it’s also totally unfair that for people with very little time, money, energy, or cooking facilities they are sometimes the only choice. Making ALL food more affordable, and making sure people have enough money to live decent-quality lives even when out of work or experiencing a disability, would go a long way toward helping people eat a higher quality diet. Add on, don’t take away.

        • K
          Posted March 12, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

          I think Pirra is missing a few points.

          The first is that at least in the case of the Masai their diets can be as much as 60-70% milk and blood depending on the year. The Inuits eat almost no plant life at all (it’s called the Inuit Paradox if you want to look it up). Grains for the most part are related to agrarian societies and a lot of people haven’t been agrarian for that long (also by most Paleo standards nuts and seeds are not considered grains).

          Further, this isn’t comparing health outcomes of people from a distant past (paleo) to a modern future. It’s actually comparing like to like, and in some cases the same individuals. In the case of immigrants from developing nations that emigrate to the United States their health and well being begins to drop precipitously almost as soon as they cross the border. This is particularly acute in the case of Mexican immigrants for whom in many cases are moving from one region which is climatically very similar to the place they are moving – that is California, New Mexico, or Arizona are not that geographically distinct from Mexico. While Michelle is right that stress and oppression likely plays a role, the reason many of these people are immigrating is due to financial and economic distress; so it’s not like they’re moving from a low stress environment to a high one, but rather to environments of differing stresses (I’m putting aside the stress of being a black woman which is known as the wearying effect and is related to all sorts of negative health outcomes across socio-economic classes proving that what’s going on isn’t income or education).

          Something is going on, and while I understand not wanting to blame diet because it too often goes hand in hand with a focus on individual responsibility instead of focusing on the systems of health (or lack of) I just worry that in trying to temper the argument we go too far and ignore the fact that our larger food system is messed up at least in the US, in ways that are unrelated to the ability to eat the occasional cupcake the size of ones head.

          To that end I only have to point to the growing incidence – that is actual occurrence and not just diagnosis – of gluten intolerance even among populations (that is non-Celtic) who have traditionally tolerated gluten well. One of the theories is that hybridization has shifted the ratio of gluten in wheat but nobody really knows. Even the rise in Type II Diabetes (especially in children) points to something going on – it’s not just genetics, and it’s not just a bunch of people eating uniquely, deliberately terribly. Or maybe it is and I’m just a terrible conspiracy theorist and I should go fetch my tin hat.

          Finally, a few years ago after a wicked fight with an intestinal virus I picked up in Central America, I gave up eating for a bit (it was either that or cipro – starvation seemed safer). Post virus my weight ballooned (bodies don’t like to starve). I ended up stumbling onto a paleo type diet (with massive allowances for cheese, beer, and wine) because I didn’t want to go hungry, didn’t want to count calories, wanted something I could easily stick with and couldn’t afford new pants (grad school). Yes, I lost the weight, but what I discovered was for the first time in 14 years – after 7 years of antibiotics, chemical peels, a round of accutane, and enough retin-A to coat a blue whale – was my acne went away. If I tried to reintroduce much sugar or grains, I broke out. It turns out roughly 50% of acne sufferers are highly sensitive to glycemic index – namely high GI diets cause us to break out. It’s buried in the literature, but all of those years of exposing myself to questionable substances and blaming my parents for “bad genes” could have been fixed if I’d just laid off the bread and doughnuts. So now I mostly do.

          I’ve read through a ton of your blog posts and I think what you’re trying to achieve is great. But, as a woman who has managed to somehow dodge the disordered eating bullet, I wonder if there are almost two tracks towards nutrition? There’s the track that’s focused on getting people to have a healthy relationship with food. And there’s the track that’s focused on getting people to eat healthfully. Some people have a healthy relationship with food – they eat when they’re hungry and they stop when they’re full – but because of culture or convention what they’re eating isn’t necessarily so great at supporting their health. And some people eat “well” according to a nutritional check box, but have a terrible relationship with food to the point it consumes their life. And obviously there are points where the two overlap.

    • Posted March 12, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know, I’m pretty sure that I’ve never thought of lactose-intolerant people as genetically inferior, and they have a lot more extreme intolerance to aspects of the Western diet. Maybe some people really do think about it that way, though.

  28. Susan
    Posted March 7, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    Once again, I’m glad my definitions of disgusting people are pretty much limited to Hitler and my ex-husband. (The man’s a sociopath, and I wish I were being metaphorical.)

    My mom and sister both have Type 2 diabetes, despite weighing MUCH less than normal-blood-glucose, 220-pound me. Mom and my sister both got hit on by strange, wealthy guys when they took my nieces on vacation last summer. One was about ready to take Mom back to Taiwan and put her up for life in a multi-million dollar apartment overlooking the bay. If diabetes makes you unattractive, someone needs to tell my family. :P (FTR, I haven’t been on a date in over two years, and I’m perfectly happy by myself.)

    As for the hilarity issue, I occasionally think asthma, lupus, Asperger’s syndrome, massive environmental allergies, social anxiety, bipolar disorder, fibromyalgia, and near-blindness are freakin’ hilarious. Of course, I’m talking about the cases that I’ve got. I use gallows humor to cope, up to and including playing Name The Rash when the opportunity arises. If someone else gets sick, it’s not funny until they use humor on their own, and then only when they agree that everyone else though think it’s funny, too. A lot of people think I don’t know how to take my health issues seriously, but I know exactly how serious of an issue it is, hence joking around to cope. It’s kinda like me talking about Mom and Dad: they drive me around the bend on a frequent basis, and I give them huge amounts of shit for being dyed-in-the-wool Republicans (just like they give me crap for having a D on my voter registration card). However, if anyone else says a word against them, my hackles rise and I correct the situation. My diseases, my parents, my privilege.

  29. bananacat
    Posted March 7, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    My coworker just went to a “naturopath nutritionist”. This person told her to cut out all sugar and artificial sweeteners, because otherwise she will develop diabetes. It is so much worse to hear this type of thing coming from someone who puts herself in a position of power and claimed expertise. I guess it’s possible that she “only” suggested it and my coworker interpreted wrong, but either way I think a life without fruits isn’t very healthy (at least for people who like eating fruits).

    • Posted March 7, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

      I tend to feel like anytime a person or a diet suggests you cut out an entire food group, or anything approaching an entire food group, for health reasons, it’s a red flag. Even people with certain diseases and intolerances often don’t have to cut out a WHOLE category of something – after all, people who don’t tolerate gluten DO tolerate other grains and starches, and people with diabetes ARE allowed to eat sugar and carbs. In rare cases it may need to happen, but it’s not the norm, and it can actually induce risk.

      Whenever something seems black-and-white, it’s a good idea to check it out further.

      A life without fruit would not appeal to me.

    • tree
      Posted March 8, 2012 at 5:04 am | Permalink

      “I think a life without fruits isn’t very healthy”

      For some of us it’s much healthier than the alternative. You might like to look into fructose intolerance and fructose malabsorption.

      • Slim
        Posted March 12, 2012 at 9:55 am | Permalink

        And if you look into fructose malabsorption, you will learn that dealing with it does not mean simply “avoid fruit.” Some fruits are fine. Some vegetables are not.

  30. Posted March 7, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    I would love to be more eloquent, but I am at a loss for words.

    So, I’ll just say this.

    I love your blog, and this posting made me weep with it’s insight.

    I heart you. Big time.

    -a chronically ill gal who is sick to death of health bigotry somehow being OK

  31. Posted March 7, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    I would love to be more eloquent, but I am at a loss for words.

    I love your blog, and this posting made me weep- it really says it all.

    I heart you, and your efforts.

    – a chronically ill gal who is sick to death of health bigotry, and blogging for change

    • Posted March 7, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

      Thank you – it really means a lot to me to hear from people in the trenches, so to speak.

  32. tree
    Posted March 8, 2012 at 5:17 am | Permalink

    Every time I try to write a meaningful comment I get whatever the online equivalent of being tongue-tied is. (Finger-tied?) But I have a huge weakness for sarcasm being used as a weapon against ignorance and bigotry (♥) and I kind of want to marry you right now. (If you weren’t already married. And if I wasn’t also. And if lots of other variables aligned, &c.) In the couple of years I’ve been reading your blog, my entire internal paradigm about food and eating and weight and all of that has completely shifted. Just by being your fabulous, intelligent, compassionate, logical, generous self, you’ve made a huge impact in my life. And for what it’s worth, I wanted you to know. Thank you.

    • Posted March 8, 2012 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      Wow, thank you, that’s incredibly nice to hear.

      I bet if you can work things out on your end, my husband would be willing to negotiate some kind of trade.

      • Posted March 9, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

        Just a New York minute here- I want in on this.

        I think so many of us heart you, there will be a lineup.

        My husband has never heard me speak so highly of someone and heart them so deeply. Don’t ever stop.

  33. ricki
    Posted March 8, 2012 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    This is so brilliant. The sad thing is, some people believe exactly the ridiculous stuff you were parodying. I teach intro-level bio classes for non-science majors and I have heard some of those comments.

    I try to disabuse the students of their false notions, but it’s hard.

    I’ve also evaluated TEXTBOOK chapters -for, like, college textbooks – that seemed to conflate Type I and Type II diabetes, which I was always taught had different symptoms and causes.

    My dad’s a well-off white guy with a Ph.D. and he’s pre-diabetic. So I’d react pretty badly to someone making a “Haw haw, diabetes!” joke. (I actually had a colleague make a really awful heart-disease-related joke once. My dad has a heart condition – it’s actually probably congenital – and I admit I lit into my colleague for making that joke. But, gah, stuff that could kill people ISN’T FUNNY.)

    • Posted March 8, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      I think deadly diseases become “funny” (not really) when they can be blamed on the victim. Especially if the blame involves doing something “sinful” – eating, having sex, etc.

  34. Rapunzel
    Posted March 8, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    I gotta love satire. And you’re good at it too!
    I just found your blog when you were mentioned on Dances With Fat. Looks good! Gonna do some snooping around now…..

  35. Lynette Brown
    Posted March 8, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Well done! It makes me crazy that you had to put in the disclaimer, but I certainly know why you did. Check out http://www.ohio.com, the Akron Beacon Journal’s site. They ran a story yesterday: Lack of Cooking Skills Part of Poverty. What is most interesting (and horrific) is to read the comments at the end of the on-line version. We have a long way to go.

    • Agnes
      Posted March 9, 2012 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      Ah yes! The old “limited skills of the poors” argument. Please explain the popularity of all the prepared meals at the fancy wine-n-gourmet grocery near me. Plus, tons o’ overpriced desserts (single serving size, each in their own plastic clamshell container). This shit be expensive. Perhaps I should stand near the displays and lecture the buyers– if I can make that stuff for 1/5 the price (I can!) you can too. Then you can pay off your house. You know, the one you took out a HELOC in order to finance a fancy new kitchen?

      • Posted March 9, 2012 at 9:15 am | Permalink

        Not that this says anything for other people who live in poverty, but at my poorest, I started cooking more. If you don’t have access to kitchen facilities to do this, or a way to get groceries home and store them, this obviously doesn’t work, but for poor people with basic access to food and facilities, it probably happens more often than people think.

        Of course I was so damn tired from working all week (and walking my commute) that I only cooked on the weekends and then froze it.

        The richy-rich groceries stores in my city always have a ton more convenience foods than the other stores. Even goddamn Trader Joe’s has more convenience food than my grocery store. But, you know, it’s “classy” so no one thinks of it as “junk food.”

        • Agnes
          Posted March 9, 2012 at 10:56 am | Permalink

          I know! Trader Joe’s is full of dinner- in- a -box stuff. You’re right though– it’s classy convenience food!
          Not to sound too cranky, but the hypocrisy is overwhelming. No, it is still convenience food even if you like it. Just as it is still junk science even if it happens to align with your values and personal predilections.

  36. lilacsigil
    Posted March 9, 2012 at 1:28 am | Permalink

    Excellent post! My local newspaper recently ran a feature on Type I diabetes and the entire focus was how people with Type I diabetes are totally blameless and not even fat! The crowning moment was a request from a nine-year-old girl with Type I diabetes to let people know that there’s two kinds of diabetes, so people shouldn’t think she’s fat and eats too much. Yeah. Awesome. I’m not even diabetic (though I am at risk for it due to PCOS) and I can see the flaw in that logic.

    • Posted March 9, 2012 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      Yep. This is one of the things that has really been bothering me about the diabetes discourse – the stigma has gotten so great that people with Type 1 are feeling it, and then taking steps to distance themselves from people with Type 2. How fucked up is that?

  37. Meredith
    Posted March 9, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    OH, late to the party again but I LOVE this post. I got that it was satire before reading the disclaimer, but I understand why you put it there. Seems to me that comedians have figured out they can’t tell blatant fat jokes anymore, so they’ve just replaced “fat” with “diabetes.” Because everyone knows that all fat people are diabetic too so that makes it funny, knowwhatImsayin’?

    I’m gonna totally pile on food elitism too because is really starting to annoy me lately. I (deliberately) caused a stir at a recent office lunch by announcing that I can’t stand quinoa and chuckled inwardly at all the gasps of disbelief (I have a boss who I love, but he totally gets sucked into every “healthy eating” fad that comes down the pike and I enjoy messing with him.) It was so funny – everyone was all “how can you hate something that’s so healthy??” I just do! I’ve tried to eat the stuff and I find the taste and texture unappetizing. Yeah it’s nice that it’s high in protein, but I get enough from other sources so why force myself to eat something I don’t like? Nobody put me down for saying it or anything, but I found the reaction very interesting.

    • Posted March 9, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

      Oh, I update so seldom that you’re never late to the party here :)

      Haha, a quinoa rebel! I actually really like quinoa, but there’s no accounting for taste. It’s strange how anyone would just assume that because something is “healthy” it’s impossible to dislike it. There are plenty of “healthy” foods I really don’t care for.

    • Posted March 9, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

      Canned sardines were the healthy food I could never find a way to like. I tried.

      Most foods (including quinoa) I love, but for me the healthy thing everything recommends to me that I can’t stand is yoga. Hate it. Yes, I’ve tried it. I have never once felt GOOD after doing yoga. But it’s as if I’m sooooo ungroovy and unhealthy if I don’t like it.

      • Posted March 9, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

        Haha, this reminds me of an old post by Kate Harding about how uncool it is not to like sushi: http://kateharding.net/2005/09/26/random-thing-up-my-ass-du-jour/ – read it, I promise you’ll laugh.

        • Meredith
          Posted March 11, 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink

          Haha, that is so true. I like sushi but I completely understand why not everyone does – my husband hates it, for one. I had a similar discussion with a friend recently about our mutual loathing of single-malt scotch. We wondered how many people just pretend to like it because it’s supposed to be a mark of sophistication and can cost up to $500 a bottle. I love Irish whiskey, rye and even Jack Daniels, but scotch just tastes nasty to me, and single-malt is bottled vileness.

          • Posted March 12, 2012 at 10:35 am | Permalink

            I think that’s a good question – and a good example of how class connotations change people’s perceptions and preferences of food and other consumables.

            I hardly drink alcohol at all, once a month maybe? Probably not even that often, except around the holidays. But I really, really like the taste of tequila.

    • G
      Posted March 14, 2012 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      My partner’s family is huge on the ‘choking down untasty food that is “healthy”‘. I don’t get it.

      I don’t mind quinoa, but the politics around it is sort of weird– it’s a staple food in South America but now that us rich Westerners want it and will pay $$$ for it, the price has gone way up and folks there are missing one of their native foods because it’s too expensive. Food for thought…

      • Posted March 14, 2012 at 8:25 am | Permalink

        It’s always a bummer to hear about these kinds of consequences of our food fads – similar to how deflated I felt when I found out that palm oil manufacturing (to help replace our hydrogenated margarine) is incredibly destructive to the environment.

        Everything carries a price tag.

  38. Melody
    Posted March 11, 2012 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure if you used the word “gross” intentionally or not as a double entedre’, but the word “gross” means “fat” in French. Odd how “gross” came to mean “disgusting” when integrated into English, isn’t it? Nevertheless, knowing the French meaning of “gross” added some depth to your already awesome article.

    • Posted March 12, 2012 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      Yes, this is a great connotation that I didn’t even think of! And you’re totally right.

      • Meredith
        Posted March 12, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink

        Not to get too word-nerdy but the original French meaning of “gross” is even more neutral than fat – it just means “large” (and as a noun, grosse, it meant 12 dozen). It is very interesting that gross took on so much negative meaning when it passed into English use.

        • Posted March 12, 2012 at 10:38 am | Permalink

          “Gras” or “grasse” is fat, right?

          • Meredith
            Posted March 12, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

            Yes – gras or grasse is fat the substance as opposed to the appearance. It’s also used for “greasy” or “oily” – i.e. in French you’d say “une peau grasse” for oily skin.

  39. Maya
    Posted March 24, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    I am a middle class white chick with type 2. My mom and all 3 of her sisters are middle class white chicks with type 2. We are short and thick waisted. No matter if I weigh 140 lbs or 160 lbs I always have type 2. I still have to take metformin. I don’t think I am a gross person. I know my mom and my aunts aren’t gross people. Once I mentioned to someone I work with that I have type 2 diabetes. She said she couldn’t believe it, because I am not obese. My nutritionist during my second pregnancy, when I had GESTATIONAL DIABETES (a nice pre cursor to my type 2) told me that she had patients who were thin and very fit with type 2. Type 2 has probably been around forever. We are just able to diagnose it easier in modern times. Thank you for this article! It is nice to know that I am not a gross failure because I have type 2.

  40. Posted March 31, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    This is so great. I have type 2 diabetes. I had gestational and got to keep it after the baby. Yay me! I get endlessly frustrated by people assuming I have the disease because I am too lazy to fix it. I have even had endos treat me like I am stupid and lazy. So frustrating.

    • Posted April 1, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      That is super-frustrating, and even less defensible coming from endocrinologists. Solidarity!

  41. Posted October 14, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    I found your post through a concerned, and upset, fellow diabetic, who brought it to my attention. lol Sorry… it seems to fly over some people’s heads, and I admit, until I scrolled down to the disclaimer, I wasn’t sure what the heck this was about, either. I’ve written about the whole joke trend thing, before — albeit, not in this style — and you wouldn’t believe (actually, I know *you* would) the amount of google searches wanting to find ‘jokes’ about diabetes that connect with my blog. It’s sickening. It’s frustrating, and tiring. Diabetes is complex, and a heck of a lot more than just eating choices, or our ethnicity. I wish more than just a handful of us people understood that, and that the stupid media, and other organizations, and stupid idiots (with an M.D. next to their names) writing books, wouldn’t keep perpetuating it. I appreciate your trying to fight against that… (although I admit I cringed while reading… It was just too close to home.)

    • Posted October 15, 2012 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      Yeah, sorry about that! I am sure this post would be upsetting to people who’ve been the butt of far too many diabetes jokes. It hits close to home for me, too, because I have lots of close family members with Type 2. I hate that you’re getting hits to your site because people are searching for actual diabetes jokes, ugh.

  42. Ann
    Posted October 15, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t even bother read all the comments because even though you meant it as a joke it’s not funny and I pray none of your relatives ever get diabetes.

    As for fat people being diabetic, yes poor diet can bring it on but what about the babies and small children born with type 1? What about the skinny people who eat right and exercise yet get it through genetics?

    Anyone that can laugh or even joke about this deserves to live through it. By the way it can also be brought on through physical complications, medications, and illness.

    You can call me white trash all day because I have it but I probably eat better and exercise more than most of you. Mine was brought on through genetics and medication. Also to educate the TRUE white trash on this page, insulin makes you gain weight.

    • Posted October 15, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      Ann, I really apologize if this hurt your feelings, but this is a work of satire, which intends to harshly criticize the way people with diabetes (particularly Type 2) are treated in society. It’s a form of social critique. I am aware that insulin makes people gain weight. I am very close to many people with Type 2 diabetes, as it runs in my family.

      I don’t sincerely mean any of these things any more than Jonathan Swift genuinely thought people should eat babies to deal with poverty in Ireland. (Not that my satire is comparable in quality to Swift’s, but I want to make sure people understand that I don’t mean any of the things said in this blog post, which is why I included a pretty lengthy disclaimer at the bottom.) Satire is tricky, particularly when society has become so ridiculous over a particular issue that the satire is almost indistinguishable from reality, which seems to be the case with the stigma around Type 2 diabetes.

      I am tired of seeing people make jokes about diabetes, and that’s why I wrote this post, to call them out.

  43. Posted October 16, 2012 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    I’ve deleted some comments (and my response to them.) They were here long enough.

  44. Devin
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    This is actually very rude my friends of all races and ages have diabetes as do I and it is actually a serious medical condition. I didn’t ask for it and my childhood was cut short because its so stressful and is a big responsibility. Diabetes is nothing to laugh at. I bet that you don’t even know the first thing about diabetes or how hard it is to manage. Just the fact that you would make jokes about so racially discriminating even if it is “just for fun” is really hurtful to me and all my diabetic friends that have seen your post. Learn something about diabetes before you make jokes next time

    • Posted October 17, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      Devin, you missed the point. I actually used to work in diabetes, so I know a bit about it. This post is satire, and the intent is to discourage people from making diabetes jokes, because they are cruel and stupid.

      I’m sorry if my satire was so bad that people don’t get it and it hurts their feelings. But I wrote this 7 months ago and my readers seemed to mostly get my intent at the time. I’m sort of scratching my head over why a bunch of people are suddenly showing up to tell me I don’t know anything about diabetes (and worse), when most of my professional work as a diet tech was in a diabetes clinic.

      All I can say is, maybe I should have put the disclaimer at the top. Or not attempted satire at all.

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