Have you ever heard a joke about cancer patients and chemo treatments? What about children with epilepsy? No? Me either. It’s baffling to me that in 2017 people still make jokes about diabetes. It’s easiest to turn the other way and let it go. I mean, society is offended by everything lately. But sometimes, enough is enough.
Recently, Jimmy Kimmel tweeted about how someone was “sweeter than diabetes”, with a picture of the sweets they sent him. Cute. And to be honest, not really that offensive. But let’s be clear, the jokes about diabetes never stop. And this is a problem.
Comments and jokes like this help perpetrate the misinformation and negative stigma attached to people with diabetes. Heck, even US Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, is being ridiculed by Trump for having Type 1 Diabetes, reportedly saying he will be able to replace her in his presidency, due to diabetes. Fact: in no way, shape, or form, does diabetes limit what one can accomplish.
One could even go so far as to say that jokes hinder proper medical treatment. Does the average person know that sugar can actually save a diabetic’s life? Probably not, and if they’re the average person helping me when I am nearly passing out from a low, I could potentially die from the misinformation they have. There are also plenty of health care professionals who don’t know the difference between T1 and T2. This is frightening.
Perhaps without these jokes, others won’t think diabetes comes from eating candy as a kid. And maybe they won’t perceive diabetics as lazy, fat people who eat sugar all day. Perhaps diabetics can finally be just diabetics and not need to feel afraid of sharing this information.
Fact: Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease with no known cause or cure.
Another fact, not all Type 2 diabetics have diabetes because of their lifestyle choices. Much of T2 is hereditary. They do not deserve these punchlines either.
Diabetes jokes are not funny. They do not offend me. But they upset me.
Educate. Don’t hate.
P.S. See a real example of how we have actually made a difference with diabetes punchlines here.
There are just so many reasons why diabetes jokes are not okay. Here are some additional thoughts:
- workplace discrimination is real, and it’s because no one understand the disease
- cancer patients are not asked why they didn’t wear sunscreen, so why are diabetics asked if they ate too much candy?
- many diabetics are insecure about even revealing they have diabetes; we’ve all hidden diabetes at one point in our life, and this is dangerous. Maybe we wouldn’t fear others’ reactions if there wasn’t such a negative stigma circulating diabetes.
The list could go on…