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Hey NASCAR, being gluten-free doesn’t make me soft

Let me repeat that. Being gluten-free doesn’t make me soft. In fact, I’d argue it makes me the opposite of soft.

Strong.

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.

3 thoughts on “Hey NASCAR, being gluten-free doesn’t make me soft

  1. Nick Hogan

    I agree with you that having celiac disease doesn’t make you soft.

    I agree that your experiences with the disease have only made you a stronger person.

    The ad is intended to be funny. It’s not, and it is in poor taste. But irresponsible? Meh, that’s a bit of a stretch. Convince me.

    1. Brynne Post author

      Though I respect your opinion, I’d argue this ad is irresponsible because:

      1. NASCAR using it’s influential voice (and advertising dollars) to bully a group of people who are different is irresponsible. You would never see an ad making fun of those with Lupus, Crohn’s or any other autoimmune disease.
      2. Comments like this put a celiac or gluten-intolerant person’s health at risk. It diminishes the seriousness of the disease. When eating at a restaurant food isn’t handled as carefully, because the term gluten-free is not taken seriously. Also, ads like this make people become embarrassed by their disease because others make fun of them for it. For example, if you are allergic to penicillin and you neglect to tell your doctor about your allergy because you’re embarrassed (thanks to hypothetical negative media attention), your health is at risk. If a celiac is too embarrassed to tell a waitress or friend they are gluten-free, their health is being compromised.

      It’s just plain irresponsible.

      1. Nick Hogan

        I agree that no one would create an ad that said the same thing about any other autoimmune disease.

        And if I felt like they were actually “bullying people who are different” I might be more inclined to agree with you. But it’s an ad that’s supposed to be funny and not intentionally harmful, so can you really call it bullying.

        As for influential NASCARs voice, I think this ad says more about NASCARs audience, or rather what NASCAR thinks of their audience, than it says about NASCAR itself. I’ve never held a particularly high opinion of the NASCAR fandom, so I’m comfortable viewing them as intolerant or ignorant or just plain old disrespectful, but I’m surprised that NASCAR is so willing to celebrate those qualities in their fans.

        Yes, I’m ignoring your second point. I still disagree but I’m not sure how I’d like to counter it just yet.

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