When Food Network star Paula Deen announced her diabetes diagnosis in January, the public reaction was not as positive as she probably hoped. “No Reservations” star Anthony Bourdain openly mocked her decision to keep her condition secret for three years, saying, “Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later.”
It was reported that her fellow Food Network hosts did not support her, and celebrity foodies Hugh Acheson and Andrew Zimmern publicly criticized the way she handled her announcement. Even her publicist quit over the situation.
Now that the dust has settled, Deen is finally opening up about people’s reactions and explaining why she waited as long as she did to make her announcement.
She told Al Roker on “TODAY”, “I think it was from a few people that were kinda mean about it and hold it against me. But the people that care for me, Al, they came out like you wouldn’t believe, and they were the people that I care about.”
She said that she has “broad shoulders” and can handle the criticism, explaining, “I feel like God has given me a blessing, because my mother and daddy died very young, and I’m so proud that I lived long enough to be a member of the baby boomers and to have to deal with something like this.”
Her son Bobby also appeared on the show, where they were making a light version of a frittata, one of Deen’s new healthier recipes. He spoke about how proud he was of his mother, and blamed her critics for their negativity.
“It was tough,” he said. “I think that when someone comes out and announces that they have an illness and people pile on, it really says something about maybe who’s doing the talking.”
Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped the unkind comments. Bourdain immediately tweeted his reaction to Deen’s comment that some people had been mean, writing, ”‘Some people were kind(a) mean..’ Some people were kind of greedy.”
The crux of the issue seems to be the length of time Deen took in announcing her diagnosis. Many of her fans felt betrayed that she continued to promote high-calorie, high-fat fare, even though she herself had a condition that might have been improved via a healthier diet. Deen finally opened up as to why she waited nearly three years to make her ailment public.
“It took me 20 years to come out and stand up and say, ‘Hey, my name’s Paula and I’m agoraphobic,’” she told the Associated Press. “I was so ashamed, so embarrassed. So to do it in two-and-a-half years, I thought it was pretty good.”
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