Blair RiverEverything about a restaurant called Chandler's Heart Attack Grill screams wrong to me. It's poking fun at something that's not in the least bit funny. And now the company is realizing how serious it is to joke about eating yourself to death. Blair River, their 29-year-old "model," is dead.
It's horrible and tragic. So why didn't someone think of that before naming a restaurant after the leading cause of death of Americans and encouraging a 572-pound model to stay that way?
If you've heard of the Arizona-based franchise, you know River was the perfect person to work at a place where one meal can exceed 8,000 calories. With his sizable girth, he was the star of the Grill's commercials, poking fun at the healthcare law, stating he would have to pay for his medical bills anyway ... so why not keep on eating?
River's death of as yet undisclosed causes is being called "ironic" today. I'd say it's tragic -- he was just 29 and left behind a young child -- but after watching that, it's not ironic. It was what happens when you take caring for your body and turn it into a joke. When it's too funny to care about your body, bad things happen. Like heart attacks, diabetes, stroke, cancer, death.
The Heart Attack Grill isn't just a place where people can stop in and exceed the limit of their daily recommended calories once in awhile. That happens. We all do it. Even the healthiest of the bunch like to indulge sometimes.
But with its crass commercials, its insistence that it's running a "diet program," and assurances that people who already weigh over 350 pounds can "eat for free," the Heart Attack Grill stepped over the line into being enablers of Americans' worst habits. It's one thing to sell unhealthy food, it's another to specifically tell customers that there's nothing wrong with eating it, and to specifically comment on their health in doing so.
The Heart Attack Grill loved having Blair River on staff because he was morbidly obese, not despite it. And they make a case for the unhealthy lifestyle by taking advantage of medical issues. They play on the idea that yo-yo dieting is bad, stating on their website: "That's why our program is focused upon keeping your weight in an extremely stable, gradual, and constant upward slope." They specifically advertise that they're "treating America's anorexia since 2005," as though eating disorders are a silly, ha, ha, not something 11 million Americans struggle with every single day.
People with unhealthy lifestyles don't need to be made fun of. They need help. I can't say enough times that it's sad to see Blair River's passing. He was a human being, a dad. He did not deserve to die. But if people continue joking about being unhealthy, and their friends and family keep on laughing, what's going to happen? People are going to die.
Are you still laughing at the Heart Attack Grill shtick?
Image via Heart Attack Grill®