I remember being ten years old doing the math—dreaming about adulthood. I laid in my bed, thinking that I was only five years away from being 15 and 15 is halfway to 30 and won’t that be nice? Even when I was little I knew that 30 was the age I was really meant to be. Thirty year olds, as far as I could see, had it all. They could decide what they were going to eat for dinner. They were at the age where they were allowed to wear makeup but it wasn’t such a novelty that they felt compelled to wear the brightest, most exciting shades. They drank wine in bathtubs filled with so many bubbles and with their hair piled on top of their heads without a care in the world (this vision came from a specific scene that I remember in Growing Pains).
Let me tell you—being thirty isn’t nearly as care-free and delightful as my youthful fantasies led me to believe.
We have to decide what we’re going to eat for dinner while fighting against budgets, other people’s tastes, irresponsible cravings, and time management. We have been wearing makeup long enough that if we skip it one day, people pull us aside and ask in hushed-tones if everything’s okay. And wine in the bathtub is only relaxing for the first 60-90 seconds before the water cools off and you start to remember all the things you should be doing instead of sitting in a pool of your own filth. It’s not very often in your adult life that you get to have a truly care-free and silly moment of pure enjoyment.
And then, in the spring of 2017, Starbucks decided to treat us for all the hard work of being adults and, for a limited time only, they gave to us…
…the Unicorn Frappuccino.
From the Starbucks website, “The flavor-changing, color-changing, totally not-made-up Unicorn Frappuccino. Magical flavors start off sweet and fruity transforming to pleasantly sour. Swirl it to reveal a color-changing spectacle of purple and pink. It’s finished with whipped cream-sprinkled pink and blue fairy powders.”
And as quickly as the internet got psyched about this sweet, limited-time-only, cup of literal rainbows and sprinkles, in came the “health concerns”. I follow someone on Instagram who posted a pic of her child with a sample-size cup of the Unicorn Frappuccino and captioned the photo with a rundown of what a lovely day they’d had together bonding and laughing and enjoying their time together. And, literally, every single one of the eight comments on the photo said something along the lines of, “I would never feed my child so much sugar.” Or “good for you for having a fun day, I hope that the diabetes is worth it.” By the end, the original poster was apologizing to people for what she’d fed her own child. It broke my heart. I made sure to comment and let her know that I support her for taking her kid out for an unforgettable day.
The Unicorn Frap is not a cup of diabetes. Diabetes is a legitimate disease that affects real people. Diabetes is not a punishment for one “bad” decision in beverage choice. This is a prime example of ableism. Here’s a short, side note about ableism: If you’re making a joke about illness or disability, you’re helping to delegitimize that illness or disability. What happens if people think that diabetes is a joke or a disease that certain people deserve? Funding for disease research goes down. Doctors can become biased against certain treatments. People begin to believe that they are not deserving of adequate treatment. Just to name a few. Don’t be abelist. Raise one another up.
And another thing—I just did a tiny bit of research. We have a Sonic drive-in in our town. There’s a happy hour in the afternoon when parents often take their kids for a treat for a half-priced slush. What a great treat!! Okay, so in a 16 oz Unicorn Frappuccino, there are 59 grams of sugar. Sure, that’s a lot. I’m not arguing that there’s not. But in a 14 oz strawberry slush at Sonic there are 52 grams of sugar. I’ve never ever seen anyone shame a parent for feeding their kid a small slush. I worked with a woman who brought a 64-oz Dr. Pepper every morning. And no one in the office tried to tell her how to live her life. No one made diabetes jokes at her. We might have made jokes about one another’s dependence on caffeine to get work done but no shame about the sugar. So why does it become a trend to collectively hop up on a high horse about certain things?
You guys—let’s just let one another live. Why must we yuck one another’s yum? My fantasy about adulthood knew there would be hard things like bills and laundry but I did not expect the way we have to justify every life choice to each other all day every day. This life is so difficult on its own without piling this sort of guilt and shame on people. We’re doing our very best, squeezing the joy out of life where we can find it. Raise one another up! If you’d make a different decision—maybe it wouldn’t hurt anything if you’d keep that to yourself. Or if you absolutely must say something, let it sit for a few hours and if it’s still something you feel you have to mention, then I recommend that you go forward in a spirit of generous benefit of the doubt. Critisism is something that we could really do with less of–especially from people we only know mostly from the internet.
What do you think? Am I being too lenient on people who are poisoning themselves and their kids?
What did you imagine that adulthood would be like?