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Why We're Conflicted About Pink's Super Bowl Performance

Dr. Elizabeth Yuko is the Health Editor at SheKnows. She is a bioethicist and writer specializing in sexual and reproductive health and the intersection of bioethics and popular culture. She is an adjunct professor of ethics at Fordham ...

Yes, Pink was amazing at the Super Bowl, but was performing with the flu the right decision?

For many viewers, the most suspenseful part of the Super Bowl wasn't which team would come out on top, but whether Pink would be well enough to perform the national anthem at the game. Like so many Americans, Pink came down with the flu, so for a while, it was up in the air whether she would be able to sing the event's opening song.

Spoiler: She did perform, and against all flu-related odds, she sounded amazing. But was that really the best idea?

On Saturday, Pink posted a photo of herself rehearsing with the caption: "Trying to practice to flu away." She goes on to write that she had been waiting to perform the national anthem since 1991 when she saw her idol, Whitney Houston, "own the song."

MorePink Powers Through the Flu to Slay the National Anthem at Super Bowl LII

Adding to the drama was the fact that Pink is a native of Philadelphia and was asked to sing at the very Super Bowl the Eagles not only made it to but also ended up winning. Naturally, the mother of two was less than thrilled when a lifelong dream was jeopardized because she came down with the flu.

"I have two small Petri dish kids who literally cough INTO MY MOUTH and rub their snot on my cheek," Pink wrote on Instagram. "You can’t write this stuff I swear!"

Trying to practice the flu away. I’ve been waiting to sing this song since 1991 when I saw my idol, Whitney Houston, own this song. And now, my chance has finally come. And it just so happens that this chance comes when I have two small Petri dish kids who literally cough INTO MY MOUTH and rub their snot on my cheek. You can’t write this stuff I swear! And here we are. I’ve arrived at another one of my dreams which is slowly becoming a sort of nightmare. I will tell you, this is one of the biggest honors of my life, singing this song in front of my family, my military family, my dad and brother and step mama and family and the world. And the EAGLES!?!?! I promise I will do my best, as I always do. As far as the gremlins that got me into this mess, you can cough at me for the rest of your lives. If it’s a contest, babies, you win. #spreadthelove #spreadthegerms #pleasegivememyvoiceback #ificansingimgonnakillit

A post shared by P!NK (@pink) on

To recap: Pink caught the flu from her contagious children, then performed at one of the largest sporting events in the country with thousands of people in attendance. (And again, to reiterate, she absolutely killed it — her performance isn't the issue.) 

Did she pass her germs onto the audience by opening her mouth and singing? Definitely not, but she likely did come into contact with plenty of behind-the-scenes handlers, tech operators and other staff, who hopefully washed their hands frequently.

Granted, these are extreme circumstances: Pink performing at the Super Bowl when her hometown team is playing isn't quite the same thing as dragging your sick self to the office to attend a meeting, but it doesn't set the best example. People may look at Pink and think they can power through work — or whatever events are on the calendar — with the flu too. Possibly even more damaging is that employers — you know, the types that never believe you're ever really sick — could use this as an excuse to encourage ill employees to work through it.

More: When Is the Best Time to Get Your Flu Shot?

On top of that, there has recently, finally, been a long-overdue cultural pivot toward focusing on self-care and allowing people — especially women, universal nurturers and caretakers — to take the time to get better when they're sick instead of being "strong" and continuing to put other people and responsibilities first.

No one is disputing that Pink is an incredibly talented vocalist, wonderful mother, limber acrobat and all-round badass. We only hope that everyone who is sick with the flu, including Pink, will take the time they need to rest and recuperate — and ideally avoid events with massive crowds.

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