Let me repeat that. Being gluten-free doesn’t make me soft. In fact, I’d argue it makes me the opposite of soft.
If you haven’t heard, NASCAR’s Super Bowl ad eludes to the fact that people who eat gluten-free are soft. I normally laugh this type of thing off, but this ad will be seen by over 100 million people. Perpetuating the stereotype that people who eat gluten-free are weak and dramatic in front of millions of viewers is not only distasteful, it’s irresponsible.
From my experience, that stereotype couldn’t be farther from the truth.
I was diagnosed with celiac disease my senior year of college (about three years ago). It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever been through. In a matter of days, I went from being a normal person to someone with a restricted diet.
As if learning how to manage my new restricted diet wasn’t enough to deal with, I was forcefully thrown into a world of misunderstanding, judgment and ridicule.
Truthfully, the whole process showed me just how strong I can be.
Spending years battling an undiagnosed disease, having hair falling out, getting upset stomach and feeling exhausted does not make you soft. It makes you strong.
Going to a party and not being able to eat a single item while others give you looks of distaste when you turn down every food item they offer does not make you soft. It makes you strong.
Being a kid at school who can’t eat the birthday cake and gets teased for being different does not make you soft. It makes you strong.
Watching others down the bread basket at a restaurant while you’re just as hungry as they are does not make you soft. It makes you strong.
Feeling social isolation when you’re unable to go out with your friends to a certain restaurant does not make you soft. It makes you strong.
Having enough self disapline to read every single label before putting food in your mouth does not make you soft. It makes you strong.
You see, NASCAR, you’ve got it all wrong. Having to watch you call the gluten-free community soft and the problem with America in front of millions of viewers does not make us soft. It makes us strong.
Celiac disease makes us strong.
To be fair, I understand that NASCAR was just trying to be funny, and sometimes we need to have a sense of humor. However, the media portraying those of us who are required to eat gluten-free because of a medical condition in a negative light can have serious implications. People’s health is at risk the moment they are embarrassed to admit they have a medical condition. They start cheating on their diet or ignoring their sympotms. And that’s just not something I stand for.
If you’d like to see the ad pulled from airing during the Super Bowl, sign the petition here.