Combating Media Misrepresentations
Guest post by Teen Advisory Group (TAG) member Colin Lapus
It seems as if the whole world has heard about the scandal and chaos revolving around the food allergy-related scene in the recent film Peter Rabbit. This particular instance has caught the attention of the entire world, but there are countless other examples where food allergies are featured prominently in pop culture and mainstream media. As someone with food allergies, especially a child, how do you deal with others asking or talking about a misrepresentation they saw of food allergies in the media?
Bringing up, talking about, or standing up for your food allergies in a conversation can be hard, but it can be even more difficult when the person you are talking to has seen a misrepresentation of food allergies somewhere. The best thing to do is to tell the person the truth about food allergies. You have to be firm when telling them this though, because when people see or hear things in mainstream media, that representation might seem the like the truth to them. When you‘re both on the same page about food allergies, then you can tell them about precautions that they can take when they are around you or others with allergies. If others still will not take your response as the truth, at least they know now that you care about the issue, and maybe they will warm up to it.
Talking to someone about food allergies that they saw in the media can be a great way to bring up your food allergies to others; in other words, a great conversation starter. You can transition very easily from how food allergies can be misrepresented in the media to how other people can help to make food allergies have a bigger voice in the world. Not only does it make it less awkward to bring up food allergies, it will hopefully make people more sympathetic towards food allergies, and make them want to help out.
With the right attitude, you can turn food allergy misrepresentation into a way to promote food allergy advocacy. Food allergies are becoming more prevalent, so educating others can be a very useful skill.
Colin Lapus, age 14, is a member of FARE’s Teen Advisory Group from Massachusetts. He is allergic to tree nuts and shellfish.
For tips and resources to help you raise awareness of food allergies, visit foodallergyweek.org.