A Problematic Post

I am not the kind of person who scrolls through social media looking for posts that will make me angry. And I’m certainly not the kind of person who likes the idea of calling someone out on their perceived wrongs via social media (or any other medium) because I think that it’s usually not constructive.

But I am the kind of person who thinks that word choice matters. So when I saw Autumn Calabrese, a celebrity fitness and nutrition expert, post the following text on Instagram, I got pretty upset. (Click photos to see them more clearly).

I’m not going to lie, I was pretty upset by this post. I’ve followed Autumn on Instagram for almost two and a half years now, ever since I subscribed to the popular Beachbody workout app. I really like her 21 Day Fix workout program because it kicks my butt every time in just 30 minutes. She comes across as a fun person who is really passionate about her job and enjoys the opportunity to help others, which is why I decided to follow her Instagram profile. Normally, I enjoy her posts because they’re filled with motivating fitness and eating tips that promote a healthier lifestyle. She definitely knows what she’s talking about when it comes to exercise and eating properly.

But after seeing this post, I think that Autumn – and people like her who are not educated in the minutiae chronic conditions like diabetes – needs to step off her soapbox.

She is using her post to say that diabetes – mind you, just generic “diabetes”, there’s no mention of any of the many types – is a lifestyle killer. She says that “the worst part about it is that you are 100% in control of if it happens to you.”

OMG. No, no, NO.

Forget that she was using the current coronavirus outbreak to promote her healthy eating plan (which in itself is a pretty weird way to advertise something) – she came after the diabetes community with this post. Now, I’ll never know what her true intent was, and I don’t care if Autumn was talking about a specific type of diabetes here. That doesn’t make a damn difference. The problem with this post is that she is perpetuating diabetes stigma and alluding to a myth that an individual has control over whether or not they get diabetes. Posts like this are the reason why there is so much confusion and misunderstanding when it comes to all types of diabetes, and I think she should be ashamed of herself for putting this on her profile.

It’s even more upsetting that she immediately got defensive when people started writing comments under her post, trying to inform and educate her. I was one of those people, and I think that I kindly and respectfully directed her to learn more by visiting beyondtype1.org so she could be better informed on all types of diabetes and maybe find out why what she wrote was harmful. Sadly, I never got a response, and her post remains on her profile, unchanged.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. You can also unfollow a person on social media and write a blog post to get your feelings out there, so that’s just what I’ll do here.

 

T1D and Cosmetics: My Thoughts on Jeffree Star’s “Blood Sugar” Palette

One of my many interests is makeup: shopping for it, applying it, experimenting with it. I love that it helps enhance certain features of my face, and nothing makes me happy quite like a glittery eye shadow palette or a fresh tube of bright lipstick.

A dear friend of mine shares this slight obsession with all things related to cosmetics/skincare/beauty products. Often, she’ll text me when she scores a good deal on a high-end product, and I’ll message her with details on my new favorite facial mask, and we’ll bask in our delight together.

So I wasn’t too surprised when I got a text from her a few weeks back that showed a picture of a new eye shadow palette she discovered online. She captioned the photo: “If this palette isn’t on your radar it needs to be. Just for the title.”

Here’s the palette she was talking about:

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Nope, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you: This palette is called “blood sugar”. My first reaction was OMG I NEED TO BUY IT. I was curious to see if it was created with T1D in mind, so I did a little more research on it.

Jeffree Star, a well-known makeup maven and cosmetic creator, is behind this particular palette. According to a video posted on his YouTube channel, and in Star’s own words, the palette got its shape and its name because:

I was very inspired by like doctor medical boxes. I’m very into the medical field in general. I love reading books and watching documentaries on Netflix. I am just very into that whole thing…”

So right away, I understood that this palette was NOT created with diabetes in mind. But I wonder whether it would’ve behooved Star to have done a little more research before naming some of the shadows in the palette…

I don’t take issue with “glucose”, “blood sugar”, “prick”, or “ouch” being the names of a few of the shades; however, I don’t think it was particularly wise to use “coma” as a shadow name. Yes, coma! In this context, it could be misconstrued, for sure.

As I watched his palette reveal video, I kept waiting for Star to offer up some sort of legitimate medical knowledge that might explain his reasoning for naming the colors comprising the kit. But no such luck. I couldn’t help but scoff by the time he reached the color he dubbed “coma” – he talked about how he wanted the stamp in the eye shadow pan to be the “medical symbol” (which is more formally known as the caduceus). The fact that he so easily (and seemingly carelessly) glamorized a coma AND the symbol that graces most medical IDs by naming a rich maroon-hued eye shadow after both…is something that just leaves me scratching my head.

Now I’m not someone who is necessarily “politically correct” at all times, and I don’t think I’m being oversensitive by having a negative reaction to this beauty product. Needless to say, I didn’t end up purchasing the palette, because I don’t want to support something that I find somewhat insulting and ignorant.

Jeffree Star is obviously extraordinarily talented and makes beautiful cosmetics, but I think he should consider a different approach the next time he gleans inspiration from something (such as the medical field) that he isn’t well-versed in.