Diseases We Deserve?

Andrew Sullivan —  Jun 25 2012 @ 2:35pm

A reader quotes me:

"I'm so sorry I let you down [by contracting HIV]." No one would say that with a diagnosis of, say, diabetes…

I must disagree with you. Diabetes II has been tied almost inextricably with obesity and "bad" behaviors in our media culture, even though the American Diabetes Association firmly states on their website that most obese people will never get diabetes II and that there is a strong genetic link to developing the disease.

I don't know if you are aware of the vilification that Paula Deen endured when she announced her diagnosis. Being fat and known for cooking fried Southern foods made people very much blame her for this disease. I have a mother who was diagnosed with diabetes II, and the shame, humiliation and embarrassment for not being "good" enough is huge for her – she feels entirely at fault for getting this disease.

Update from a reader:

Contrary to your reader's comment, Paula Deen, aka "The Butter Queen", was not vilified for contracting Diabetes. She was vilified for keeping her condition a secret for years and continuing to encourage people to eat the unhealthy foods she cooked on her show. And discovering she was shilling for a diabetes drug (or profiting from a disease that she has helped exacerbate with her recipes) was also was not taken in the best light, either. Basically, people hate hypocrites.