Marks and Spencer have rebranded their popular Midget Gem Sweets following a vigorous national campaign led by lecturer Dr Erin Pritchard. The Liverpool Hope University academic, who has achondroplasia, has demanded that the little treats should undergo a change of name as ‘Midget Gems’ is ‘hate speech’.
Dr Pritchard said: ‘The word ‘midget’ is a form of hate speech and contributes to the prejudice that people with dwarfism experience on a daily basis. We need better awareness about this particular word so that things can change for the better. And I’m grateful that M&S has been willing to listen to the concerns of people with dwarfism and has gone ahead with the rebranding. For me, this highlights the need for better awareness about just how problematic the word ‘midget’ really is, and I’d be delighted if other retailers and manufacturers followed in the footsteps of M&S. Often referred to by people with dwarfism as the m-word, it is a term derived from the word ‘midge’, meaning gnat or sand-fly. Its origin automatically dehumanises people like me. It was a term popularised during the Victorian freak show, where many disabled people, including people with dwarfism, were oppressed and exploited. It was where people with bodies that exceeded normal expectations were put on display for others to stare at and often mock.’
An M&S spokesperson said, ‘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.’
Online comments include: ‘This Is Not just wokery, this is M&S wokery!’