A supermarket has announced its decision to change the name of its Midget Gems sweets after it faced backlash for using ‘hate speech’.
In October 2021, disability campaigner Dr Erin Pritchard – who has achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism – called out various supermarkets via Twitter in a bid for them to remove the term ‘midget’ from products.
Targeting supermarkets such as Marks and Spencer (M&S) as well as sweet manufacturers, Prichard explained that the term ‘midget,’ ‘contributes to […] prejudice’.
M&S has since redacted the name and relabelled the product in light of Prichard’s accusations.
Pritchard, who lectures in Disability and Education at Liverpool Hope University, criticised not only M&S and other supermarkets, but also television programmes and comedians who continue to use the term, Mail Online reports.
The word midget is a form of hate speech and contributes to the prejudice that people with dwarfism experience on a daily basis.
Having spoken with various firms about the use of the word midget, it’s clear that many companies are simply unaware of just how offensive the term is, and I’ve had to explain to them why it’s such an issue.
It has now been confirmed that M&S’s Midget Gems will now be known as ‘Mini Gems’.
Pritchard argued that it was ‘only right’ to have the name changed, as despite some viewing it as ‘cancel culture’, she noted how damaging the term is when ‘people scream the name at you in the street’.
‘The change should have happened years ago. It is easy for people not called the word to think its removal is wrong,’ she noted.
Pritchard has also campaigned for the word to stop being used for novelty items sold via Amazon.
However, for items such as the MG Midget car or Daihatsu Midget minivan, which have since halted in production, Pritchard acknowledged how such a renaming would no longer be possible.
In response to the name change, a spokesperson for M&S stated:
We are committed to being an inclusive retailer – from how we support our colleagues, through to the products we offer and the way we market them to our 32 million customers.
Following suggestions from our colleagues and the insights shared by Dr Erin Pritchard, we introduced new Mini Gem packaging last year, which has since been rolled out to all of our stores.
Pritchard only received one other response to her tweet, which was from a vegan-friendly sweet brand called Free From Fellows, which is stocked in stores such as Boots, Morrisons, WH Smith, and Sainsbury’s.
However, Tesco has since noted that it ‘would not want any of [its] products to cause offence’ and so is reviewing the name of its Midget Gems.
A spokesperson stated, ‘We are grateful to Dr Pritchard for bringing this to our attention and we will be reviewing the name of this product.’
Lion Confectionery, who first began making sweets in 1903 in Yorkshire, are the manufacturers of Midget Gems.
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