Unsticking a stigma


Note: Day 4 of DBlogWeek. Today let’s talk about changes, in one of two ways.  Either tell us what you’d most like to see change about diabetes, in any way.  This can be management tools, devices, medications, people’s perceptions, your own feelings – anything at all that you feel could use changing.  OR reflect back on some changes you or your loved one has seen or been through since being diagnosed with diabetes.  Were they expected or did they surprise you?

weeping-41879_1280I would like to rid Type 2 diabetes of the social and moral stigma it carries.

Type 2 diabetes is not a moral failing. It is not a result of lack of willpower and resolve. It is not God’s punishment for gluttony and sloth.

Contrary to what Jimmy Kimmel and the rest of the world think, we did not develop Type 2 diabetes because we stuffed ourselves with donuts and cookies and glued ourselves to our couches. If that were true, every overweight person and every lazy person, and they include a whole lot of people everywhere, would have Type 2 diabetes; yet, many don’t. Many Type 2 diabetics have not been obese or even overweight. Many Type 2 diabetics, including professional athletes, led physically active lives before their diagnosis. Lifestyle may contribute to someone developing Type 2 diabetes but so do genes, family history, age and other factors. As far as I know, science has not identified overeating and laziness as the causes of Type 2 diabetes.

The stigma of Type 2 diabetes extends to the expectation, in fact a demand, that people with Type 2 diabetes should be the perfect exercise and weight loss models, and we get judged by how well we meet that expectation or demand. If we exercise or are thin, we get off the hook. I get annoyed when people give me a spiel of pity and disbelief when they find out that I have Type 2 diabetes. But you run. You are not fat. You don’t put sugar in your coffee. You don’t eat rice. You don’t touch the noodles in your ramen bowl. I know that most of them mean well but telling me why I shouldn’t be diabetic is in a way judging me. What if I do not like to exercise? What if I’m overweight or even obese? What if I put sugar in my coffee? What if I eat rice or ramen? Do I then deserve to have diabetes and the risk of complications that come with it? No, I don’t and neither does anyone else.

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