Actress Halle Berry was once the topic of conversation in the diabetes community. She has actually been at the center of debate over the years over the various forms of diabetes and whether any of them can genuinely be reversed or not. The actress, who has played key roles in films like Catwoman, Marvel, and many others, is also one of the most divisive PWDs (people with diabetes) in the public eye.
She started what was dubbed the “Halle Barry Diabetes Confusion Ruckus,” which, more than ten years after it originally gained traction in 2007, still irritates a lot of us. When discussing her health at the time, the actress mentioned how, after receiving a type 1 diabetes diagnosis at age 22, she immediately started following a ketogenic diet. As a result of this better eating pattern, she was able to “cure” herself of T1D and gradually wean herself off insulin.
As a spokesperson for diabetes, Halle Berry?
Diabetes Type 2 in Halle Berry
After passing out on the set of a television program, Halle Berry, an American actress and Academy Award winner, was given the news that she had diabetes in 1989. Diabetes has been linked to major health issues such as renal failure, heart disease, and blindness.
Her name has come up frequently throughout the years, particularly when discussing stars and other famous people who have diabetes. In fact, I can still clearly recall someone suggesting Halle Berry as a speaker and event attendee at a local event planning conference. I laughed out at the moment and joked, “Only if we can hurl tomatoes at her on stage!”
My reply was met with puzzled looks and arched eyebrows.
I added the qualifier “… because she’s such a poor spokesperson to ever be representing diabetes,” thinking that would be sufficient. Not at all. I took a moment to inform my fellow event planners about the Halle Berry D-Confusion as it appeared that they were unaware of it. She still has diabetes, and that star power would draw in so many people, so it rapidly led back to that.
Knowing that we were only playing about and that it was highly unlikely that we would be able to attract Halle Berry, I shook my head. But this raised an intriguing question: Where do you draw the line between hiring a celebrity spokesman and working with someone who can be perceived adversely in terms of supporting a particular cause? This is related to the Paula Deen issue, in which many people expressed dismay at the rapid elevation of the “Queen of Butter-Soaked Southern Cooking” to the position of an example for diabetics.
Halle Berry’s situation may be even more complicated in that her link to diabetes only serves to further the public’s misunderstanding regarding the different varieties of diabetes, which is undoubtedly not in the best interest of those who have previously campaigned for a new nomenclature for the disease.
I personally hope nobody ever views Halle as a terrific advocate for the fight against diabetes. However, that hasn’t stopped her from doing just that, especially among African-Americans who are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. With assistance from the Entertainment Industry Foundation and Novo Nordisk, she was even named the first ambassador for the National Diabetes Education — Diabetes Aware Campaign in 2004.
Does that imply that she is a deserving celebrity to serve as the country’s spokesperson for diabetes?
I think not. She is not suitable for the role, in my opinion. No of what she says, if Halle is entirely insulin-free, she neither has type 1 diabetes now nor has she ever had it. She was likely given the incorrect diagnosis and should have been informed that she has type 2 diabetes if, as she claims, she weaned herself off insulin. She then had the opportunity to clarify this and aid in the global understanding of the disparities.
Instead, she clung to her original assertion that she “healed herself” of type 1 diabetes. Halle’s remarks have irreparably damaged PWDs, who must now deal with remarks from the general public like, “Halle Berry stopped taking insulin, so you can, too!” Even though our own D-Community has largely worked around her remarks and her most recent news has brought the issue of healthy pregnancies with diabetes to the media’s attention, Halle’s remarks have done.
Yes, she’s not the first and won’t be the last to create this kind of uncertainty. But unlike her, other people don’t advertise themselves as “celeb spokesmen.” Not someone I’d want to support in terms of raising awareness of diabetes.