Who Gets To Eat What They Love? (Hint: Not Women)

meowser-48.jpg posted by meowser

Let me make one thing perfectly clear. Dairy-related digestive iss-yews notwithstanding, I absolutely loathe cream cheese. I despise pimentos. Mayonnaise rivals ipecac syrup for me in the anti-emetic department. So suffice it to say that Paula Deen’s recipes, for the most part, do not appeal to me at all. I do make a GF/CF version of her cornbread dressing, though, and it rules. I just swap out Earth Balance for the butter and use gluten-free breadstuffs, and also use mushrooms, onion greens, and chestnuts in lieu of the celery and white onion. Yummers.

But you see, I am fat. Fatter than Paula Deen, even. A lot fatter than her, in fact. I’m never supposed to eat that stuff. Ever. At all. Not even for a holiday treat. I shouldn’t even think about it, lest I incur some sort of phantom pancreatic stressor solely from imagining the taste. Paula and I, and maybe you if you are female and have any visible flesh whatsoever, are supposed to pick at salads full of rubber bands with the merest hint of olive oil and lemon while sipping Diet Coke like good girls, day after day after day, even on our birthdays, because if we don’t, we will be punished. We will not have earned the ultimate Upper-Class Good Girl Prize of getting to live to be 100 years old with no health problems whatsoever, which would have been ours if only we had no hipster-disapproved vices of any kind. (Alcohol, coffee, and marijuana don’t count as vices in Hipster Land, not even in mass quantities.) Uh huh. You betcha. Because thin people in their 60s never, ever get type 2 diabetes. Nope, not ever.

For all anyone knows who doesn’t watch her eat every single meal, Ms. Deen does eat more rubber band salads than chicken-fried steaks. But it doesn’t matter. She might as well eat a pound of batter-fried butter cubes every day and wash it down with a gallon of Pepsi laced with a quart of cherry syrup, because that’s what everyone wants to believe she eats. Only bad, bad people get this bad, bad disease, and if you are a woman and you indulge in high-fat goodies and you’re any heftier than, say, Alison Brie, oh boy are you bad. It’s a notion with about as much basis in science as “step on a crack, break your mother’s back” (or for that matter, “don’t drink or wear miniskirts and you’ll never get raped”), and yet, people fall for it. They want to believe. It never ceases to astonish me how quickly certain hipster atheists (regardless of gender) morph instantly into finger-waggling church ladies the minute food gets mentioned. Drink like a man, fuck like a man, oh fuck yes…but never, ever, ever eat like a man. Unless you’re very, very thin — and even then, you’d better watch that intake, missy. Youthful metabolism doesn’t last forever, you know.

There’s a young chef in Portland by the name of Gabriel Rucker. He founded a couple of fancy-schmancy restaurants here in town that I’ve never been to, that specialize in things like maple ice cream with bacon and foie gras brulee and cauliflower crepes with Mornay sauce. People drool at the very mention of his food. The New York frigging Times can’t get enough of him, and they’re 3000 miles away! You don’t go to one his restaurants expecting diet food; they’d laugh in your face. And nobody ever accuses Gabriel Rucker of leading people down the primrose path to pancreatic destruction. Hasn’t happened once. You see, Gabriel Rucker is a man, and he’s thin. Nobody gives a shit if he eats that kind of stuff for every meal; in fact, nobody would ever think to ask him if he does. (I’m guessing no celebrity chef eats stuff all that fancy for every single meal; the cleanup alone would be a massive headache.) And if he announced he had T2d tomorrow, do you think there’d be the over-the-top outrage we see about Deen? Hah. Oh, and also, Gabriel Rucker cooks mostly for rich people. That probably has more than a little to do with it.

I’m getting to think the most radical statement a woman can possibly make these days is, “I eat what I love, as much as I want, and if anyone doesn’t like how I look because of it, they can sit and spin.” Saying “I enjoy inviting entire football teams in with their pet ocelots for a nightly gang-bang with fire rings and crotchless asbestos suits” will be a total yawn by comparison. Look, I do think there are legitimate moral issues surrounding Deen’s endorsement of a diabetes drug. If you want to argue the ethics of celebrity pharmaceutical endorsements, I can’t really object; all of them make me a little queasy. If you want to argue that non-insulin treatments for diabetes have limited efficacy — hey, we can talk about that too. Interesting and compelling arguments can be made either way. But those are separate issues from whether or not she was obligated to open her medical file and her pantry to the whole world, and put a Webcam on herself every time she sat down to eat, the very second she was diagnosed. She was not. Period.

And you know what? Even if she was, and still is, on the fried-butter-and-cherry-Pepsi diet, and even if her health would have been perfect if she’d been a good girl and eaten like she was told, maybe she’d rather not live to be 100 years old if it means office product salads and aspartame for every goddamn meal. Me, I don’t like the taste of rubber bands any more than I like pimentos. Pass the gluten-free skillet-fried pie, please.

19 Responses to “Who Gets To Eat What They Love? (Hint: Not Women)”

  1. Dee Says:

    Great post, and excellent point about the skinny male chefs catering to rich people.

  2. Clara Says:

    Yes to all of this! I have two friends who are atheists, are extremely pro-choice, drink like men, screw like men, tell manly jokes, etc. but will not so much as look at anything deemed to fattening. They worship the God of Thinness, If they see an overweight woman eating a hamburger they glare and grumble until she leaves or puts it down. So much for acting like men…

  3. Clara Says:

    *too fattening :(

  4. Erin S. Says:

    Only rich fat women get to eat rubber band salads and diet pop. Poor ones don’t even get that… my husband’s bank card looks (from a distance) somewhat similar to our state’s EBT card in that they’re both blue. It is not unheard of for us to catch crap from people in line behind us based on what we’re buying with their presumed “tax dollars”.

    The most recent time, all our cart had in it was just under $50 worth of plain, non organic and not pre cut or anything produce (green beans, onion, carrots, celery, and potatoes), two cans each of diced tomatoes and navy beans, a small bag of frozen corn, and an 8lb shank portion ham on sale at $0.99/lb.

    And some woman behind us thought my husband’s card was an EBT card and started going off on us for all that fancy food she’s paying for, and that from the looks of me I definitely don’t need to be eating. And I doubt she would have changed her tune had she known that the contents of that cart would be feeding us for the next week or so. And I am incredibly lucky in that I have the time, skills, and equipment to roast a ham, store the ham until it’s down to the bone, turn that bone into stock, and then turn that stock into soup.

    People need to lay off everyone else’s food choices. Even if they’re celebrity chefs, even if they’re fat, even if they’re diabetic. None of anyone else’s business.

  5. Mercedes Says:

    Interesting thoughts, for sure, but I’d like to say – I do think the class component needs to be considered, above and beyond gender, perhaps even above and beyond body size. Of course we live in a society with huge biases against people with non-normative bodies, but I also think an underlying reason why certain people are judged and have fingers wagged at them (Paula Dean) and others don’t (the chef in Portland with the bourgeoise restaurants) relates to issues of class, taste, and how that taste is reflected in production/consumption habits. Though this is a sweeping generalization, I don’t really think most NY Times readers are making Dean’s recipes on the reg. But maybe they are? I think I’m just trying to create some conceptual boxes.

    I enjoy your blog, thank you!

  6. Fantine Says:

    I read this while preparing for my daily injection of the maintenance medication for my MS, and laughed and laughed. Because as a deathfatty at age 35, I don’t have diabetes. No one in my immediate family does. But when I buy alcohol wipes or ask at drugstores whether they carry needle clippers for disposable syringes, you can bet that’s the instant diagnosis by people who don’t know me. I don’t think there’s any correlation between body fat and MS, but I have no doubt that certain people in my life are still thinking “If she’d just taken better care of herself, this wouldn’t have happened.”

  7. Patsy Nevins Says:

    No, there isn’t any correlation between body size & MS. My tall, lean, athletic stepbrother had MS for over 35 years. A very small, thin elderly neighbor whose MS seems to be in remission or progressing very slowly has it. I am not sure that I have ever personally known a person with MS, but I am sure that fat did not cause you to have MS. I wish you all the best.

    I am sure that classism is part of it, because, while Paula is obviously very wealthy now, she is a down home country girl & that is usually the way she cooks. Any time her arm has been twisted into cooking something ‘light’, she looked extremely uncomfortable during the whole show. I watch very little tv now, but I used to watch her program regularly for several years, even though about the only recipe of hers I have ever made is the bacon cheeseburger meatloaf. When she started the show, she wasn’t fat, but then, she was 9 years younger, perhaps she was in a fairly thin period after a diet but had been fat a lot before, perhaps she blossomed with aging, love, happiness, perhaps she became fatter BECAUSE of diabetes, since that is sometimes a symptom of diabetes. Who knows? What I do know is that Paula’s body is hers & what she does with it is her own business.

    I don’t like to see celebrities endorsing drugs on television either. I don’t like to see commercials for drugs on tv, period. I don’t know how it is worse, though, for Paula to endorse a diabetes drug than it is for Phil Mickelson to endorse an arthritis drug, one which, incidentally, has lovely possible side effects such as the development of tuberculosis or cancer. I am especially fond of the advertising of drugs for things such as psoriasis or arthritis which have cancer as a ‘side effect.’ I could likely go on for days about how I feel about drugs & the advertising of drugs. However, Paula Deen is no more of a sinful Philistine than anyone else who does endorsements & she does not deserve the shitstorm which has been stirred up around her.

    • lilacsigil Says:

      Immunosuppressants are well-known and well-studied drugs for psoriasis and arthritis that do have those side effects and should be carefully monitored. They’re perfectly good drugs and it’s not their fault they’re on TV! My country doesn’t have public prescription drug advertising and I find the whole thing really horrifying but I’m defending my own drugs, dammit!

      And I agree about the classism, definitely, especially in the criticism of her being “loud” and “public” while fat!

  8. Buttercup Says:

    “I enjoy inviting entire football teams in with their pet ocelots for a nightly gang-bang with fire rings and crotchless asbestos suits”

    How did you know????

    (excellent post as always.)

  9. Mulberry Says:

    Can you explain the “rubber bands in salads” reference? Do you mean that the ingredients are tasteless, overly chewy, or what?

    • Rubyfruit Says:

      My own guess comes from the “put rubber bands on wrists, snap them if you have thoughts of X behavior you’re trying to stop”. It’s more Salad-as-Punishment-Food. But I suppose that a flavorless salad could also extend into the Salad-as-Punishment-Food thing, too.

      Oh, hi there. I’m a semi-long time reader, first time commenter.

    • meowser Says:

      Actually, that is an old lady-mag diet tip from aeons ago, that putting rubber bands in your salad would keep you from eating too fast. Those eebil croutons, y’know, don’t pig out on those, girls!

      • Emerald Says:

        Ugh, really? I was thinking of calamari – many moons ago, my brother told me squid tasted like fried rubber bands. When I finally tasted them, only last year I think, they actually didn’t taste too bad.

  10. ksol Says:

    Interestingly enough to me, one of those diet plans advertised incessantly every January uses the tag line “eat what you love!” Of COURSE you may “eat what you love.” but only if “what you love” is prepackaged, overpriced, highly processed, minuscule diet meals.

  11. vesta44 Says:

    And now they’re reporting in the news that they’ve seen Paula Deen eating a cheeseburger while on a vacation, and oh noes, she even had french fries on her plate too! How dare a diabetic eat a cheeseburger!? When I read that, I was like “WTF people!” My husband has type 2 diabetes and he eats cheeseburgers every once in a while. The only bad thing about a cheeseburger for a diabetic is the bun – the bun has carbs that need to be counted and accounted for with medication or exercise (same with the french fries). Geez Louise, reporters, get a life, there are more important things to report on than what Paula Deen is eating on vacation.

  12. Meowser Says:

    Heh. I wonder what they’d say if she was seen eating a handful of raisins or a banana. Eaten alone, those two things raise blood sugar a lot faster than a damn cheeseburger (which has plenty of fat to bring down the GI index). When my XH went for diabetic teaching, the very first thing they told them was “absolutely NO canned fruit in syrup.” They did NOT say “no cheeseburgers ever.” But I guess that’s about PD being expected to be on a permanent weight-loss diet for the rest of her life, which means not a single solitary treat. Pbbbbbt.

  13. Leslie Says:

    I often wonder if there would be any backlash if Anthony Bourdain developed lung cancer. . . Criticizing Paul Deen for her cooking is perfectly acceptable, but not Bourdain for publicly smoking on his show. I can’t decide if it’s because he’s thin or a man.

  14. Emerald Says:

    Along similar lines, I was thinking a while back that possibly one of the most controversial things you could put on a T-shirt would be ‘Women: Eat Your Fill!’ Now I’m thinking I should really get that T-shirt made.

  15. AcceptanceWoman Says:

    I don’t know how I missed this post, but it’s awesome.

    People who appear thin can engage in any number of life-shortening habits (smoking, drugging, drinking, having unsafe sex) but are not scolded to the degree Paula Deen has been for “promoting unhealthy habits.” She keeps cooking and eating foods that are labeled unhealthy, but how is that worse than Bourdain’s smoking — you think his doctor hasn’t advised him to quit smoking?


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