I know what you’re thinking…
“Gluten Dude, unless you somehow “changed teams” over the weekend, how you can possibly know what it’s like to be a girl with celiac disease?”
In response to your wise-beyond-your-years observation, let me introduce you to today’s guest blogger. Her name is Anna and she runs a great blog over at Gluten Free? Gimme Three.
Be sure to check her out.
Anna…take it away.
Bitch Girl with Celiac Disease
When I was thinking about what to write about for this guest post, I thought, “What better topic to write about on Gluten Dude’s blog than Gluten Non-Dudes? (aka women)?” I loved the post written by Dude’s wife, and I thought that I’d bring a bit more of a woman’s perspective to the Dude-o-sphere :)
This post is about something I think a lot about. I wouldn’t say that I worry about it, per se, but it’s something that pops into my mind a lot when I’m out in social situations as a celiac.
Namely – Do people think that I’m a bitch because I’m gluten free?
While all celiacs have similar challenges to navigate when eating out or dealing with the disease, to be honest, I think that celiac men have it easier. I don’t think that people question why they’re eating the way they are – because it’s a given that if they could eat normally, they would be.
For women with Celiac Disease, I think people are quicker to judge – women can be more easily mistaken as eating gluten free as a way to lose weight, or as a way to be trendy/healthy.
I feel like the reaction to men who have Celiacs is one of sympathy: “Dude. That blows. Can you still eat steak?”
The reaction to women with Celiacs is more like: “Really? Come on. Eat a sandwich and quit being so picky.” Followed by an eye roll and some reference to the latest celebrity eating gluten free.
That might sound ridiculous to some people, but I think there’s a bit of truth to my theory, so stick with me.
These are the top three reasons I think celiac women can come off as bitches, based on my own experience:
1. People think that I’m not eating because I’m dieting. (The Skinny Bitch)
Picture this scenario: I’m out at a bar with a group of people I just met, and someone goes, “We should order food!” There is nothing gluten free on the menu, so I just let everyone order and figure I’ll get something to eat later. Food arrives at the table and everyone starts to dig in – all the other girls are chowing down on sliders, getting their hands dirty with wings, and gabbing about how good the mozzarella sticks are. =
I just sit there sipping my drink and hope that no one notices I’m not eating. Someone holds a plate up and says “Ohmygod, you have to try these breadsticks.” I say something to the effect of “No thanks! I’m good,” and hope they drop it.
And then I become the skinny bitch who hates food, and fun, and thinks she’s better than the breadsticks.
I think it makes it worse if you’re thin too because (in my head at least), people think that I’m not eating because I’m dieting, or because I’m too good for the bar-fare food, or because I’m picky.
And judging by the looks I get sometimes, I think that my theory is valid.
2. People think that it is a choice for me to eat gluten free. (The Trendy Bitch)
I get this one a lot. Because the greatest amount of exposure that the general public gets to gluten free eating is through celebrities going gluten free (Thanks, Miley and Kim. Not.), people think that I just made a conscious choice to give up gluten. Like joining Weight Watchers, or going vegan, or jumping on a trendy bandwagon to seem cool.
Most people also seem to assume that I just recently became gluten free (?). Because gluten is just becoming a household word, and seen as a trendy dieting technique, I don’t think that a lot of people understand that the disease was actually discovered in 1887. People have been living without gluten for a long time to fight the effects of Celiac Disease. No celiac that I know just woke up one day and thought, “Hey, I think I’ll go gluten free today!”
Most suffer for years without a diagnosis – it is not a choice.
When I tell people that I’ve been gluten free for six years now they seem to be surprised, but also take it more seriously.
3. People think that I’m uptight. (The Stuck Up Bitch)
Believe you me, I’d love to be the girl who can go to the bar or a restaurant and order a beer instead of a glass of wine. I’d love to not have to check the label on everything I eat. I’d love to be able to eat cupcakes at office birthday parties or bagels at morning meetings. I’d love to be able to order delivery pizza, or grab Chinese take-out when I don’t feel like cooking.
But I’m not. I have to calculate and evaluate everything that I eat. And sometimes that can take extra time. And sometimes that means I’m going to have to be “that girl” eating salad at a burger place.
Am I being overly cynical in my view on how celiac women are viewed by the general public? Possibly.
With more awareness-raising on the serious effects of Celiac Disease, I hope that there will be more people who have an accurate understanding of what it means to live with the disease.
Until then I’ll just deal with being a “bitch” sometimes. Hopefully my charming personality will help those haters out there get over my gluten-freeness.
Anyone else think that men and women with Celiac Disease are viewed differently? Are women judged more harshly for eating gluten free?