The Mighty Logo

The Major Problem With That 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians' Food Allergies Episode

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

I can’t keep quiet about this. Nor should anyone else in the food allergy community. Action could and will save lives. It’s that serious.

I was watching an episode of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” with my 10-year-old son. In it, Scott questions Kourtney’s claim that she is allergic to foods such as gluten and milk. His point is valid: she shouldn’t use the term “allergy” if she doesn’t have one. He is lactose intolerant, which he states during the episode, and is frustrated by her flip-flopping allergic status. He understands the severity of food allergies and intolerances, and wants her to stop saying she is allergic when she is not.

Sounds good, right?

Only, he tries to “prove” her wrong — which, if she was really allergic, could kill her.

During the episode, Scott switches out her substitute foods with the real deal. He empties out her dairy-free milk and substitutes it with real milk without telling her. The same with other foods.

I cannot emphasize enough how outrageously dangerous this action is, not only potentially for her (as we don’t know if she truly has an allergy at this point in the show), but for all people in the allergy community, particularly children.

There is complete and total misunderstanding of our community and the severity of life-threatening food allergies. My son is anaphylactic to certain foods, as are other members of my family, including myself. He was horrified watching this. If someone wanted to “test” our allergies, it would kill us. Kill us. Potentially within minutes.

My fear is these actions could be copied. Kids and adults are already bullied and tested on a regular basis without a major TV show advocating for this type of behavior. It’s totally unacceptable. While Scott’s point was valid, airing his actions to prove Kourtney wrong was wrong of epic proportions.

The episode continues, and Kourtney fakes illness from eating the switched foods.  Then she laughs about not being sick with her mother, Kris, while Scott is verbally and visually upset about it. He tries to convey the seriousness of allergies and that her elimination of certain foods is a choice, not an effort to keep herself alive due to an allergy. In his attempt to prove an important and potentially life-saving point, Kourtney concedes to using different language, but calls it “ridiculous” in the process.

The stigma surrounding food allergies and intolerances is everywhere and hard to fight when you are in this community and trying to stay alive every day. We never know if a food has accidental contamination or cross contamination that isn’t labeled. We never know if we could potentially die from eating. Die from eating.

And, for those thinking: “Just use an Epi-Pen like on TV,” they are not a guarantee.  People die each year after using epinephrine. You can never, ever be too safe.

As a family affected by the stigma surrounding our life-threatening allergies, we are begging “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” to create a public service announcement at the end of this episode discussing the seriousness and life-threatening implications of the actions and attitudes within it.

As a family who has experience bullying due to our life-threatening allergies, we are begging the public to use common sense and never try to test someone’s allergies.

We are begging people to become our allies and help us end the stigma and bullying that prevails.

This issue is real.

The potential for death is real.

I can’t sit idle to this issue out of my instinct to protect my children and myself from misunderstanding.

While we applaud Scott for starting a discussion about life-threatening allergies and food intolerances, we have to speak up about the methods used. We have to use our voices to keep this discussion going.

We want people to live with food allergies and intolerances in a properly educated world that supports us.

We need your help to do it.

Originally published: August 23, 2016
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home