Some Things To Consider Before Condemning Honey Boo Boo’s Family For Poisoning Baby Kaitlyn

Much noise is being made today about Alana Thompson (a.k.a. Honey Boo Boo)’s family’s child rearing techniques. Specifically: the fact that Alana’s half-sister Lauryn (a.k.a. “Pumpkin“) was photographed giving her baby niece Kaitlyn a taste of Mountain Dew on her pacifier. This is obviously not what you’re supposed to do with a baby, but before you form a lynch mob outside her double wide, here are some things you might consider.

First of all, Pumpkin is 12 years old, and kind of a naughty little weirdo. 17-year-old Anna, the baby’s mom, is not the one who did it. Looking at the pictures, I’m not even sure she was aware it was happening at the time. Should she have handed the baby off to her 12-year-old sister? Maybe, maybe not. But it’s not like it was a grown up giving her the stuff.

That said, this family is hardly a paragon of health. “Mama” June Shannon is already infamous for giving Alana (age 6) a “go go juice” concoction to help pep her up for her pageant competitions. She obviously is not aware of the general medical consensus on the issue, which is that too much caffeine can give a child neurological or cardiovascular problems. Do you really think she’d do that to her kid on purpose? But if you’re going to get mad at this family for giving a baby a taste of Mountain Dew on a pacifier, or even some go go juice before a pageant, you’re kind of missing the point. Being raised on the Standard American Diet (SAD) of white carbs, fats, sugars, hormone-laden meat, and preservatives does far more harm to a child’s health than whatever microscopic amount of soda Kaitlyn ingested. But unlike some of my more conservative friends, I’m not willing to blame the family for this.

Like many mothers living somewhere near the poverty line, June Shannon is doing her best with limited resources. Her primary concern is making sure her kids don’t go hungry; health is secondary. Unfortunately, the way the system is currently set up, millions of dollars are spent each year by mega-corporations to make unhealthy foods artificially cheap and appealing to those most vulnerable to this type of economic coercion. Fresh fruits and veggies are not sold at the food auctions June goes to, nor are they the focus of the coupons she collects. Is it possible to feed a family healthily on the cheap? Sure, but it requires knowledge June probably lacks. And even once you gain that knowledge, it’s incredibly hard to break out of a lifetime of unhealthy eating habits when your tastebuds were trained, from a very young age, to want crap and only crap. Given all the other challenges facing poor families, “eating the healthiest food possible” is often viewed as the luxury it has become.

Of course, it’s hard to write about how this family is oppressed by poverty without sounding condescending (which is something I want to avoid). But the fact is, they are. It’s not because they’re not naturally smart or wonderful or loving people (i.e. what I focused on in my last post about them). It’s simply the culture they were raised in. Viewing their redneck lifestyle as a choice is an easy way to ignore the huge fucking problems caused by a system based on inequality and exploitation. Someone’s always going to get the short end of the stick.

In the end, I think it’s possible to be charmed by the way this family sticks together, makes the most of what they have, refuses to be ashamed, and generally has tons of fun at the same time that you hate the larger forces that gave them so little to begin with. If you’re upset about the poor eating habits of this family, take it to the streets, the voting booth, the volunteer program, or all of the above. But don’t get mad at a 12-year-old named Pumpkin unless you’re willing to arm her with age appropriate information and grocery money.

(Via The Daily Mail)

Photo: TLC


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    • Jamie

      Yes! I totally agree with this. Wonderfully written and on point.

    • Joe-Lisa Hernandez

      Really??? Do you REALLY think this mother (or family) is living near the poverty line, with all the money they’re raking in from exploiting their child?? And let’s look at her “pantry”. She’s got a bazillion rolls of toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo and various other items, due to her shopping prowess. She’s got a heck of a lot more in her cupboards than I do, and I don’t live “near the poverty line.” I think this woman is smarter than you’re giving her credit for. She simply likes to eat junk, and feed it to her family, her annual income notwithstanding. She’s got you believing she’s this poor little redneck woman who doesn’t know any better. What she is, is lazy. She knows better; she simply doesn’t care.

      • jamiepeck

        Wow, I had no idea toilet paper counted as currency.

      • jenver

        I completely agree with what you say about the cost of junk food versus healthy food. As an habitual dieter, I’ve more than once bemoaned the fact that I can spend one dollar on one orange that will feed only me, or spend that same one dollar on a bag of cookies that will not only feed me, but my husband and two children as well.
        What you fail to realize, however, is that Mountain Dew and Red Bull are on the more expensive end of the grocery spectrum. For the amount of money she’s spending on that, she could certainly buy fruit juice instead. Also, frozen vegetables are extremely cheap and hey! lots of coupons for them too. I also clip many coupons for yogurt, peanut butter and whole grain bread. I even bought a little do-dad that for less than $10 that makes homemade potato chips in the microwave with no oil!
        Let’s not forget how much it costs to put a child into a pageant. You surely don’t think it’s free do you? There’s the entrance fee, the price of the dresses, shoes, accessories, fake tan, etc, etc. People who are truly on the poverty line don’t have that kind of money.
        I don’t fault Pumpkin, or anyone in the family for that matter, for giving the baby a tiny amount of Mountain Dew. She certainly didn’t do it with any malicous intent, and how many of our mother’s rubbed whiskey on our gums when we were teething? But to turn this into an indictment on democracy is really a stretch. It’s not the system that’s flawed so much, but the people. June learned about nutrition all through elementary school and middle school – we all did. What she chooses to do with that information, and how much she decided to listen and apply that knowledge is completely on her.

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    • LibCommie

      Why does Jamie Peck hate freedom?

    • Serena

      Water is the healthiest beverage and it’s free; Mountain Dew and Red Bull are not. Stop blaming poverty for people’s decisions. Oh and fwiw I really like Mama June. She is a self-proclaimed Coupon Queen and that’s how she feeds her family.

    • IamJoyceM

      Many people use the caffeinated soda instead of coffee or tea as their wake up beverage. With her coupons she gets the sodas for free. I’m betting the coffee/tea is not so easy to get for free. It becomes a habit and the whole family ends up doing it as part of their routine.

      I don’t know why people are getting so upset. This is one of the happiest bunch of people I’ve ever seen. They aren’t asking for anything from anyone and this is just how they live. Perhaps the anger towards this family comes from witnessing what daily life could be like for so many people, and maybe they could be a paycheck away from being a coupon queen too? Perhaps it’s time to give to your local foodbank and stop complaining about free lunch programs?

      I can’t believe someone says “stop blaming poverty.” Really? Try living on/around the magic line and then check in again later.


    • lousyanagirl

      It seems that there are some judgements being made on this family and their circumstances. They can’t be completely broke if they’re doing the pageants. There’s a significant cost involved there. Mama appears to be frugal and does well with her couponing and auction purchases. The quality of food may be at issue, but it appears to be a choice, not a limitation based on lack of funds. Anybody who can stock up on that much TP, etc. can put the savings towards healthy food choices. Finally, don’t try to turn this into a political issue. Sure, there are some needy families out there but many of America’s “poor” have multiple TV’s with cable, one or two cars, central heat & A/C, cell phones, etc. Try explaining that standard for poverty to the millions suffering from disease and starvation around the world.

    • tenacious

      I call BS on that. She could drink water instead of go-go juice…cheaper, and without the sugar, caffeine and toxins of pop.

      Money can’t fix stupid….

    • Matt

      Defending them drinking soda is downright plain stupid. “Has to feed her family”…. Water is free it comes out of the damn faucet. An obese child drinking red bull and Mountain Dew will never be accepted by the general public as ‘okay’ plain and simple. Don’t award a family with a tv show that makes Americans seem like the stupidest trashiest country around. Sure they might have a happy family but they shouldn’t be awarded with a tv show. It promotes what they’re doing and that’s the last thing we should be promoting. Get healthy June Shannon get your kids healthy cuz at the rate you’re all going you’re putting a time limit on your life’s.