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Are Zara's "Gluten-free" T-shirts Funny or Offensive?

Celiac.com 04/21/2016 - Spanish fashion brand Zara has been forced to pull a T-shirt from its stores after a petition argued that the slogan was offensive to people with celiac disease.

Photo: CC--tupeloThe shirt in question is a simple white T-shirt that sports the slogan "Are you gluten free?" in bold black letters. Zara pulled the shirt after a petition urging the removal appeared on the website change.org, and collected over 50,000 signatures in just under a week.

In a statement released on March 14th, Inditex, the biggest fashion company in the world, which owns Zara, announced it was pulling the T-shirt from its stores. "The T-shirt mentioned in this petition was pulled from our online store a few weeks ago now and we are currently confirming that it is not for sale in our stores either," said the statement.

Zara's quick response came as a pleasant surprise to the petition's author. Marta Casadesús, who started the petition. Casadesús told reporters that she really "just wanted Zara to reflect on the message, I was trying to explain that perhaps it wasn't the best way to make people aware of the illness." She said she was "really happy" with Zara's decision to remove the shirt.

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This is not the first T-shirt controversy to befall the fashion giant. In 2014 Zara stirred up controversy by selling a striped children's T-shirt that many people said resembled the uniforms worn by prisoners in Nazi concentration camps.

The navy-and-white striped "sheriff shirt" featured horizontal stripes and a six-pointed gold star. Zara also removed that shirt from its stores after numerous complaints.

So, what do you think? Is it offensive to wear a T-shirt that asks "Are You Gluten Free?"

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18 Responses:

 
Dick L.
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said this on
22 Apr 2016 12:33:51 AM PDT
I have celiac disease and I don't find it offensive, but I can see how some people might.

 
Sarah
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said this on
23 Apr 2016 3:29:33 PM PDT
It seems to reinforce the misunderstanding by many people that gluten-free is just a choice. For a lot of us, it isn't. I wouldn't mind more restaurants and food manufacturers getting the message though!

 
Dan
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said this on
25 Apr 2016 6:02:01 AM PDT
I have celiac as well but it escapes me how anyone would find offense with someone else wearing or a store selling a T-shirt stating "Are you gluten free?". Please explain how someone "might" find it offensive. Thanks!

 
Janet
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said this on
25 Apr 2016 7:25:06 AM PDT
I think we've become overly sensitive to the poor choices of marketers, "fashion", and others. If you don't like a shirt, then don't wear it. It's that simple.

 
Erin
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said this on
25 Apr 2016 8:09:08 AM PDT
I have been diagnosed with celiac for ten years now and have no idea why people would find this offensive. Too many sensitive people out there!

 
Allie T
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said this on
25 Apr 2016 9:17:23 AM PDT
If you never want to be offended, don't leave home. I have celiac disease and think this comes under the heading of first world problems.

 
Jackie
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said this on
25 Apr 2016 9:52:12 AM PDT
I don't think it is any more offensive than "Got Milk?" (and I am dairy free). Would like to hear why it is considered offensive.

 
dappy
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said this on
25 Apr 2016 10:41:48 AM PDT
We are officially the most RIDICULOUS nation in the world. Can we become more stupidly PC? No, we are there !!

 
Kathy
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said this on
26 Apr 2016 5:11:38 AM PDT
Actually this happened in Spain, not the USA. So I believe it is the whole world that has become ridiculous, not just our nation.

 
G. Harrison
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said this on
25 Apr 2016 11:21:00 AM PDT
I'm not sure offended is the right word.

I think I find it disappointing. I'm a celiac who wasn't diagnosed until I was in my early 40s. For years I suffered with multiple symptoms that the medical community could not explain. Anyone who has been through a tough diagnosis with doctors knows that when they fail, they often pass it on to their patients - if they don't know what it is, the patient must be crazy.

After hundreds of tests, it took my doctor retiring and a new set of eyes for me to be diagnosed and when I was, I remember feeling at first elated to have an answer, but then as the reality of eating in restaurants was extremely limited, I became very discouraged that there were so few of us and so little public awareness.

Over the years, as knowledge and numbers have increased, options have as well and it is far easier to live with it now than it ever was. But with it comes this latest round of public ignorance, suggesting that anyone who is "gluten free" is just taking part in a fad, is crazy or is looking for attention.

Whether or not it was the intent, that is the resulting message from this T-shirt. I doubt that anyone from Zara will read this, but it goes for those who don't have problems with gluten too.

 
Rick
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said this on
25 Apr 2016 11:50:10 AM PDT
Wow, people really need to lighten up, have the comics have some kind of gluten free punchline in their act. It is a simple statement, now if it ended with "?!" or if it said, "Don't tell me you're gluten free!" then I could understand.

Maybe I need to make a shirt that says; "I'm Gluten Free, but I'd much rather be enjoying a New York Pizza with a cold beer right now!"

 
Cynthia
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said this on
25 Apr 2016 5:31:45 PM PDT
Like a lot of people with celiac, I have a long, difficult story of diagnosis, and I have a niece who almost died from this disease. However I do not find that shirt offensive. Every once in a while, someone gives me the "Gluten Free is just a trend talk," but I've got too much in my life to let that bother me. I guess we're all different, but 50,000 people signed a petition?! I wish they would all contribute to a celiac medical charity. Did you know that every time you order from Amazon, you can choose to have a donation made to the North American Society for Celiac Disease? That is constructive work.

 
Ronda
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said this on
26 Apr 2016 4:31:26 AM PDT
My son and I are both celiac and have been since before most people including doctors even knew what gluten is. I am sick and tired of everyone wearing their "feelings" on their shirtsleeves. Pretty soon no one will be able to say anything because of someone else's perceptions that might feel offended. Perhaps others liked or enjoyed the t-shirt (or any number of other things) but now because someone cannot deal with their own thoughts and feelings, these people have to adjust theirs. YOU are responsible for YOUR perceptions. Deal with them and leave the rest of the world alone. This is absolutely juvenile. Grow up and get a backbone for crying out loud.

 
celiacMom
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said this on
26 Apr 2016 5:34:49 AM PDT
I find it offensive because is asking about a medical condition that should be private matter, and does not define who a person is. When is the last time you saw a t-shirt that said "Are you in chemotherapy?" or "What is your blood sugar level?" or "Got Viagra?"

 
celiacMom
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said this on
26 Apr 2016 5:46:13 AM PDT
To add a bit more, why I am offended, and I do not even have celiac, its my kid! I am old fashion, from a time when we tried to be polite and pleasant to one another. T-shirts and conversations were about the sports, art, books, TV shows, maybe a bit of politics or religion...

 
CJ Russell
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said this on
26 Apr 2016 6:49:16 AM PDT
I don't find it offensive at all. What clothing is offensive? Shorts/pants that say "Juicy" on the butt. Do I need to know that they have anal leakage? That's what it says to me. It doesn't tell me that the person wearing them is attractive - if they are I can see that with my eyes. It tells me that they have poor taste in clothing and do not understand the meaning of the word juicy. T-shirts that talk about the wearer's bedroom habits/preferences. TMI. Any clothing that reduces women (or men, but I rarely see it) to an object. I find these things objectionable, but I don't make a stink about it and petition for establishments to not sell them. "Are you gluten free?" is not offensive.

 
Pippy
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said this on
26 Apr 2016 8:05:24 AM PDT
A shirt like that could be a conversation starter, this befuddles me. I have CD and if I wore that shirt, it would be to bring awareness to the disease. I think there could be better choice saying on the T, but I am sort of confused. I would not be offended.

 
Patrice
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said this on
26 Apr 2016 2:31:40 PM PDT
I would think that it would raise awareness of celiac and gluten sensitivity. I don't find it offensive at all. But then I'm not easily offended.




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I believe the talk around this forum is that cheerios are not gluten free enough for people with celiac at this time. I don't know if anything has changed on that and when their lawyer calls me I'll quickly delete this. haha

Could be we generally say get off of dairy for a few months when going gluten free. The part of the intestines that produce the enzymes, and help break down dairy are associated with the tips of the villi, which are the most damaged if not gone in celiacs. THIS is why most of us end up with a lactose intolerance early on. And most can introduce it later after healing. As to her symptoms with it there was a bunch of research about dairy permeated the gut and causing neurological issues in a autism study I was looking at years ago. And there have been other studies about damaged intestines and how the hormones in milk can easier effect ones body. Personally I also have a huge grudge against dairy on a personal level as it is not natural to suck on a cows tits and drink the stuff, nor your dogs, nor a rabbits......I mean come on even Human Breast milk you would find odd to drink as an adult right? Back in the past dairy was a great way to get calories and fats when there was famine, etc around I mean it is meant to make a calf grow into a 500+lb cow. But on a genetic and hormonal level it is not really for human consumption and now days the whole corporate BS propaganda push and dairy farms shove that oh its healthy stuff down your throat. There are plenty of dairy free options for everything feel free to message me if you need help finding anything I have been dairy free for over a decade.

The full celiac panel checks TTG IGA and IGG, DGP IGA and IGG, IGA, EMA as Jmg stated above. Your test included TTG IGA and IGA. If your IGA was low, a low on TTG IGA would be inconclusive. But your IGA is fine. A high on any one test is a positive for celiac and should lead to an endoscopy for confirmation. So I'd get tested for TTG IGG, DGP IGA and IGG and EMA since there are symptoms. Warning I'm not a doc.

I did a gluten challenge for my endoscopy and requested a second blood test after my follow up with the consultant. I never did see those results but my GP said no celiac was indicated: Which left me gluten free for life, that wasn't an option after the challenge, but with a less satisfactory diagnosis, one by omission rather than the definitive 'you're celiac' one I was expecting. Yes! I have been 'properly' glutened on a couple of occasions but on several more I've detected a change or a reaction based on what could only have been trace amounts. NCGS is as yet poorly understood but patients tend to have more neuro symptoms than digestive. That's definitely been my experience, although it was only after going gluten free that I realised quite how many digestive symptoms I had just been living with as 'normal'. Close friends and family get the full explanation. 'I have an auto immune disease similar to 'coeliac etc.' If they stay awake long enough I'll tell them about the less than perfect testing process I went through or the Columbia Med research and the possibility of a blood test soon. They can see the difference between me on gluten and off it so they understand its not all in my head* If I'm ordering food in a restauarant or asking questions about food prep etc I will often just self declare as coeliac - people are aware of that and understand those requests are medical rather than fad diet based. I don't have any problem doing this, I'm not going to claim that and then cheat on dessert for instance and to be honest I expect once the research is complete the two conditions may wind up alongside others as different faces of the same coin. In the meantime I safeguard my health and avoid getting into a detailed conversation about genuine gluten sensitivity versus faux hipster posturing! *apart from the bits which are in my head

I originally had it on my face and scalp. (22 years ago) First biopsy with dermatologist came back as folliculitis. Then when I had a new outbreak on my upper back, she was able to remove a nice clean blister and we got the diagnosis of DH. She started me on Dapsone (100mg/day) and gluten free diet. Now I take 25-50 mg/day. My understanding at the time was that DH was the skin version of Celiac. Did a lot of research on my own. I met Dr. Peter Green at a Gluten free Vendors Fair and he said that a diagnosis of DH IS a diagnosis of Celiac, even if no other symptoms. So I stay gluten-free