Yes it’s true – Diabetic South Africans is now South Africans with Diabetes. But why, you might ask?
South Africans with Diabetes
Well, when we first started our Facebook page in June 2011 (nearly 11 years ago!), we wanted it to be easy to find. Diabetic South Africans seemed the simplest way to tell people who we were. But things have changed in the past ten years, and many people feel uncomfortable calling themselves diabetics. They would rather be people with diabetes – and we get that.
Diabetic vs. person with diabetes
Many members of our community have told us that they don’t mind being called diabetic, because it’s easier to say and write, and having diabetes is so much a part of their lives that they don’t mind being associated with it. But many others have said that they don’t want their condition to define them – you don’t call someone a hypertensive if they have high blood pressure, so why should we be labelled diabetics?
It is up to you to decide how you refer to yourself, and your condition, but we want to respectfully choose a name that doesn’t offend anyone.
Blame and shame game
We are also very aware that it’s easier to dehumanise people if you lump them all together under one word. When we were working on the Diabetes Charter, it was remarkable what a difference it made changing all the references to ‘diabetics’ to ‘people living with diabetes’. All of a sudden, it wasn’t about a group of ‘diseased’ people, but about a group of people living with a chronic condition.
It’s the same as changing the word ‘patient’ to person (we’re not sick – we’re not patients). And ‘disease’ to condition (we’re not diseased, we’re managing a condition). We’re also not ‘suffering’ from diabetes (although some days are a challenge!) While these might seem like small changes, together they make a big difference.
The South Africans with Diabetes podcast
We talk more about the language of diabetes in the second season of our South Africans with Diabetes podcast – please take a listen! And watch this space for more on diabetes and language in a South African context… There’s a lot of work to be done!
What to read next?
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Dealing with diabetes burnout: Dealing with diabetes burnout is complex. There is no “one solution fits all” because the experience isn’t the same for everyone.
Exercise, a little every day: The ultimate guide to diabetic exercise, including how to make it fun!