Popeyes Needs to Apologize to the Disability Community for its "Emotional Support Chicken"

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen just rolled out a seasonal promotion in the Philadelphia airport: For just $8.49, you can purchase a chicken-shaped carton of fried chicken labeled an "emotional support chicken."

Hope Diaz, the company's chief marketing officer, says: "We know holiday travel can be frustrating, and there's no better way to ease stress than with a box of delicious Popeyes fried chicken and a good laugh."

You know what's frustrating, Hope? Living in a world where people make fun of emotional support animals, who provide a vital service to their human partners, whether they're furred or feathered.

In fact, one of the things ESAs can do is ease stress, making it possible for people with anxiety and other mental health conditions to, say, relax and enjoy a commercial flight. "Jokes" like this one have serious consequences for people who need ESAs, and the hate often spills over onto service animals as well, making it harder and sometimes more dangerous for disabled people to navigate the world.

And do you really think fried chicken is the thing you want to use for this promotion, given the abuse factory-farmed chickens endure? Especially in light of the fact that poultry processing is an extremely dangerous industry associated with increased risks of developing disabilities, including mental health conditions like anxiety and depression?

The chicken industry literally makes people sick. And they want to mock people who get sick because of brutal working conditions?

Tell Popeyes: This "joke" definitely doesn't have wings, and it should be withdrawn from circulation with an apology to the disability community, which is constantly fighting stigma on the subject of emotional support animals.

And hey, Popeyes? Back that apology up with some money and a donation to an organization that works to improve the lives of people like farmworkers and poultry processors, such as Farmworker Justice, or a mental health advocacy group like NAMI.

Photo credit: Mike Mozart
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