Alison Roman found herself in quite the predicament earlier this month when she made disparaging comments about Marie Kondo and Chrissy Teigen that were revealed in an interview she did with The New Consumer.
Not only is Alison a best-selling cookbook author with her own New York Times cooking column, but she also branded herself as the relatable millennial “cool girl” of cooking. She’s known for her no-filter honesty, which was refreshing to some, until it really, really wasn’t.
To sum it up, Alison exposed her unchecked white privilege and lack of self-awareness by calling Marie a “bitch” who sold out while also declaring Chrissy’s business as “horrifying” because both women built successful food and lifestyle brands involving curated product lines and content creation.
This confused me, since many other women and men have also found massive success from launching product lines and creating content of their own (Gwenyth Paltrow, Rachael Ray, Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, just to name a few), but Alison seems to have no qualms with them. Or with herself, for that matter, since she is doing the same exact thing by launching her own product collaboration with a cookware startup.
Needless to say, the massive backlash hit swiftly and suddenly, driven not only by members of Team Chrissy and Team Marie, but also by Alison’s own fans who were calling her out for conveniently targeting women of color for following a business model that many others have emulated in the past.
Alison found herself needing to issue two apologies, since her first one was all but sincere. While Chrissy showed her disappointment with thoughtful responses throughout the fiasco, she ultimately accepted Alison’s public apology. The media continued their coverage in a rabid frenzy, but one voice was notably missing: Marie Kondo’s.
In Alison’s interview, she called Marie a “bitch,” saying she “fucking just sold out immediately! Someone’s like “you should make stuff,” and she’s like, “okay, slap my name on it, I don’t give a shit!” Alison also said, “For the low, low price of $19.99, please to buy my cutting board!” which many readers interpreted as her poking fun at an Asian accent.
Everywhere I turned, I was inundated with articles pitting Chrissy and Alison against each other. I could understand why, since they’re both more outspoken than Marie on social media overall. But as I read through everyone’s hot take on the situation, I was left wondering how Marie felt. Would we see a statement from Marie condemning the insults, defending her and Chrissy’s hard work, and uplifting all women who are on their way to building crazy successful careers of their own?
As an Asian-American woman who is switching careers to focus on food, travel and lifestyle writing, I couldn’t help but take it personally when Alison unleashed her hypocritical tirade against two Asian women who I admired. I was so happy when I saw Marie being welcomed into people’s homes on her Netflix show, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, after reading her best-selling books.
And you better believe I’m going to binge her next series, Sparking Joy With Marie Kondo, when it’s finally released. I’ve also been a huge fan of Chrissy’s recipes and love her cookware line at Target. There aren’t many Asian faces in the food and home industry, and I could feel the ricochet of Alison’s hurtful words landing on me, even if that wasn’t the intention. I was glad Chrissy spoke out and seemed to get closure after the whole ordeal. But anger still stewed inside of me for Marie. Why weren’t reporters writing about her? Did any journalists reach out to her for her thoughts?
Marie’s absence from the drama reminded me of my Chinese upbringing, which is not unlike other traditional Asian cultures. I was taught to keep my head down, work hard, mind my own business, and ignore bullies. This feeds into the stereotype that Asians are non-confrontational and won’t fight back. Maybe Marie wanted to take the high road and ignore Alison’s petulant tantrum. Or perhaps Marie is simply applying her tidying method to her social life and ridding herself of interactions that don’t spark joy.
It’s hard enough being a woman starting a business. It’s even harder as a woman of color. And it’s the hardest when other women try to invalidate your success. While I hoped that Marie’s silence was intentional on her part, my mind still kept wandering to more insidious reasons. I hope she was asked for her thoughts, and not forgotten based on an assumption that she had no comment as an Asian woman.
And as for Alison? I was planning to try her Insta-famous caramelized shallot pasta recipe before that unfortunate interview was released. I even kept the recipe tab open on my browser while I counted down the days until I would cook it. But after witnessing her shameful attempts to minimize all of the hard work that Marie and Chrissy put in to build their empires, that’s one tab I had to close for now.