Once again a TV personality jokes that cupcakes cause diabetes. Here’s why I think it’s a larger conversation: It’s both inaccurate and hurtful.
Alternate title: When Life Gives You Lemons, Be Unkind to People With Diabetes
I want to preface this by saying that I have liked Kelly Clarkson since the very first season of American Idol. I’m sure she’s a great person. Yada, yada.
And this post is not really about Kelly Clarkson.
I can’t believe that in 2020 we still have to have these kinds of conversations, but here’s what happened:
I normally have my TV set to stream but when I turned it on it was live because the last thing I had watched was the vice presidential debate.
I literally had the TV on for 30 seconds while I hunted for the remote to switch modes.
Kelly Clarkson was baking cupcakes on her afternoon show and I heard her say, “Welcome to the Kelly Clarkson Show where we give you diabetes.”
Out loud I said to Kelly on the TV, “REALLY?!”
I’m not easily offended. But I hate how flippant some people are about saying that anything decadent is diabetes-inducing.
It’s just ignorant. On so many levels.
And I hate it when it’s the punchline of a joke even more. If diabetes is the punchline of your joke and your job is a comedy writer, then you aren’t very creative.
But there’s another issue here that I would like to address. It’s not a type 1 diabetes vs. type 2 diabetes thing.
My reaction to Kelly’s insensitive comment wasn’t me going “d-mom mama bear.” It was me being a mama bear for ALL people with diabetes.
You see, when I posted about it on social media, there were two types of reactions:
1. Don’t get so bent out of shape about it.
2. Why can’t people learn the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes? My kid didn’t get T1D from eating cupcakes.
I’m not trying to call d-parents out if theirs was the second reaction. I get it. It’s so frustrating when people think our kids got T1D from sitting around on the couch drinking juice and eating candy all day. It’s an autoimmune disease and is not caused by lifestyle.
But my frustration is that lifestyle isn’t the cause of all type 2 diabetes either.
There are many, many people with unhealthy lifestyles who never develop type 2 diabetes. And there are many, many thin, active people who do.
It is becoming clear that there are more things at play that cause people to become insulin resistant including a genetic component.
People with diabetes, whether type 1 or type 2, are real people with real feelings. It’s just not cool to make jokes at their expense. The person who says it might think they are being funny, but it can be hurtful to those struggling with a new diagnosis, struggling with shame or guilt, or struggling to do the umpteen daily diabetes tasks that diabetes demands of them each day.
And as members of the diabetes community we need to be allies for others living with diabetes…all types of diabetes.
I’m not angry at Kelly. I’m disappointed in her. (Did you hear my mom voice there?) It’s just not kind to joke about a chronic medical condition.
We could all use a little more kindness.
And we could all use a few of those cupcakes.
Because we all know that cupcakes don’t cause diabetes.
Here’s the video, just in case you want to watch it: