The problem with food allergies.
I know, this is a book blog, but something you probably don’t know about me, is that we have many food allergies in my family. My eight year old son is highly allergic to milk and egg, and has an FPIES reaction to haddock.
This week there was a commercial put out by Party City. The commercial was poorly done, calling either the crackers that were gluten free, or the woman who was gluten free, “gross.” (It was really hard to tell who/what they were calling gross.) The allergy community was pissed; they took action, and Party City removed the ad. (You can still find it online if you Google it; some people took video with their phones.)
The next day the Today Show posted an article about it. I skimmed the comments on Facebook. (I know, I’m looking for trouble there.) Of course I see the familiar ones; some people think that ‘the kids need to learn how to live with it’ and ‘calm down, everyone gets offended these days’ and ‘why should my kid adjust his lunch for your kid.’
I hear you people, but here’s the thing.
That commercial was played on Nick Jr. NICK JR!
Believe me, these kids with food allergies know that they need to learn to live with their allergies, in fact, they do every day. At school maybe they eat at a different table than the other kids. Maybe they avoid going to birthday parties that have pizza because they’re allergic to milk. At family holidays, they have to bring their own safe food. Guys, these kids are excluded so much already. So when they are relaxing after a day of school and see a commercial in which adults are having a party and call another adult with an allergy ‘gross,’ it just breaks my heart. It throws it in their face one more time that a child with food allergies is different. And, it was played on a kid’s network, and that’s why this is such a big deal.
And I know, I know, someone thinks I’m overreacting just reading this. But listen. Let’s pretend that commercial was about a child with autism. A child who is in a wheelchair. A child with epilepsy. Can you even imagine Party City putting out a commercial calling someone with autism or epilepsy gross?
No, you can’t. Because it’s awful.
The problem with food allergies is that people don’t see it as a disability; they see it as an annoyance.
Hopefully, that will change.
And even more so, hopefully someone finds a cure.