Obesity plagues celebrtity chefs

By Sara Blair Matthews

Contributing Writer

“How to Drop Five Pounds in Five Days,” “Why Fat is Deadly” and “Cut Carbs, Live Longer” are prominent headlines in our society. Clearly, America has an obsession with fat. We have come up with countless diet fads, shows such as “The Biggest Loser” and “Fat Chef,” and tabloid campaigns judging celebrities on how much weight they have gained. All of these areas feed off each other between making people feel simultaneously horrible and happy about themselves in relation to others. How many times have you or someone you know picked up a tabloid with someone’s face blocked out, reading “Guess who gained 50 pounds?” just to see who that person is and perhaps feel better about yourself? Think of the swimsuit picture of Tyra Banks, former supermodel, which blew up a few years ago. Yes, it was clear Tyra was not her former size-zero self, and the tabloids completely tore her apart for it. However, she had the guts to fight back and ended up wearing her swimsuit on her talk show to show the world that she was happy with how she looked and that she wasn’t intimidated by others’ criticism.

Most people cannot face their critics head on. For example, Paula Deen shied away from criticism for years by concealing her diagnosis of type II diabetes. Recently, she has faced much criticism because she waited three years to reveal her diagnosis to the public and waited to do it with an endorsement deal on hand. To many, it appears she is using her disease for profit and that she is not taking this seriously. She is well known for her “the more butter, the better” attitude, which has led her to her current predicament, but I’m not going to criticize her for her choices. Though she may not be the most healthy role model for Americans, she has never falsely preached about the health benefits of her food. She often says, “here’s a little mint, we have to have our vegetable!,” but most who watch her show know she’s kidding.

It is true America has a rising obesity problem, but I do not think fat chefs such as Paula Deen, Ina Garten and Mario Batali are to blame. I think it is up to the viewer to determine whether their food is the most healthful option for his or her lifestyle. If someone wants to cut down on his or her fat intake, he or she should know that when Paula cooks a recipe that uses two sticks of butter, three cups of sugar and one cup of heavy whipping cream, nutrition is not the aim of the dish. Americans should be held responsible for their own choices, and I don’t think it is right to blame it on these celebrity chefs just because they are more visible people in our society.

You also have to consider the viewing demographic of these shows. Most seven to 13-year-olds are probably not watching the Food Network in their free time. Food Network shows are mostly generated for middle-age adults, who frankly should have some idea of what healthy eating means. My dad loves to watch Paula’s show while working out, and he will come home and tell us how many sticks of butter she used throughout the course of that show. We love Paula, but we rarely cook her food in our home because we understand it does not lend well to a healthy diet. I think a lot of people probably feel the same way. Viewers love her personality, but realize that her food does not fit the kind of lifestyle they want to lead.

I think we should be responsible for our own choices. Yes, celebrities are very visible, and they do have the power to influence a lot of people, but we don’t always have to follow their lead. It’s in our hands to create a life that works for us each specifically. I would love to be friends with Paula, but I would never take weight loss advice from her. Ultimately, we need to focus on people’s strengths, especially celebrities, versus trying to use them as scapegoats for our problems. They’re only human.

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