Should Kids With Food Allergies Wear Warning Tattoos?

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
July 18 2013 2:06 PM

Should Kids With Food Allergies Wear Warning Tattoos?

Too boring

Courtesy SafetyTat

Having a kid with food allergies is terrifying. As novelist Curtis Sittenfeld put in Slate, “I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that allergic families live in a parallel universe in which what is harmless to everyone else requires extreme vigilance from us.” Understandably, parents don’t want their allergic kids to drop dead every time they go to a birthday party, on a field trip, or anywhere else wheat proteins might be lurking. Enter SafetyTat, a company that lets parents emblazon their children with warning labels. In addition to offering temporary tattoos bearing a child’s home phone number lest Junior wander off in the grocery store or playground—all the utility of a dog collar with less bulk—SafetyTat now offers customizable temporary tattoos reading, “ALLERGY ALERT.”

We at DoubleX have mixed feelings about these temporary tattoos. On one hand, the idea of protective scarlet letters has a lot of potential, and not just for kids; as my colleague Emily Yoffe put it, “Adults will want tattoos that say, ‘Don't let me order dessert!’  Or ‘Cut me off after the 2nd glass of wine.’ ” On the other hand, kids with allergies already face a lot of stigma, both from adults and from other kids. Won’t being physically branded make allergic kids more susceptible to bullying?


The solution, we think, is to make allergy tattoos look more like real tattoos. The SafetyTat design you see above is easy-to-read and pragmatic, sure, but I don’t know any 7-year-olds who would clamor to plaster their bodies with it. If kids are going to voluntarily wear them, allergy tattoos should be bigger and far less tasteful than SafetyTat’s offerings. How about a foot-wide chest tattoo, like Tupac’s “Thug Life,” only reading “Soy Death” instead? Or a very arty strawberry dripping with blood for your neck? Or a cartoon of Mr. Peanut throttling somebody? The vulgar possibilities are endless. The only danger is that if allergy tattoos start looking too cool, even kids without allergies will want to wear them.

L.V. Anderson is a Slate assistant editor. She edits Slate's food and drink sections and writes Brow Beat's recipe column, You're Doing It Wrong. 



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?


Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 20 2014 1:50 PM Why We Shouldn’t Be Too Sure About the Supposed Deal to Return the Abducted Nigerian Schoolgirls
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
Dear Prudence
Oct. 21 2014 9:18 AM Oh, Boy Prudie counsels a letter writer whose sister dresses her 4-year-old son in pink tutus.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 1:10 PM Women Are Still Losing Jobs for Getting Pregnant
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:25 AM The Brilliant Fake Novels of Listen Up Philip
Oct. 21 2014 8:38 AM An Implanted Wearable Gadget Isn’t as Crazy as You’d Think Products like New Deal Design’s UnderSkin may be the future.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 21 2014 7:00 AM Watch the Moon Eat the Sun: The Partial Solar Eclipse on Thursday, Oct. 23
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.