Marks & Spencer: Midget Gems change name after academic's campaign

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Marks & Spencer: Midget Gems change name after academic's campaign
Midget gemsImage source, M&S
Image caption,
Dr Erin Pritchard says using the word midget in packaging is a form of hate speech

Marks & Spencer has changed the name of its Midget Gems sweets to avoid offending people with dwarfism after a campaign by a Liverpool academic.

Dr Erin Pritchard, a lecturer in disability studies at Liverpool Hope University, argued the word midget was a form of hate speech.

M&S has now rebranded the popular gelatine treats as Mini Gems.

A spokeswoman said the store was "committed to being an inclusive retailer".

Dr Pritchard, who has achondroplasia, a condition which stunts growth, approached supermarkets and confectionery makers about changing the name of the sweet, raising her concerns that the use of the word "midget" had its roots in Victorian freak shows.

Mini GemsImage source, Marks & Spencer
Image caption,
The supermarket chain has rebranded the popular sweets as Mini Gems

She wrote in Big Issue North: "Often referred to by people with dwarfism as the m-word, it is a term derived from the word midge, meaning gnat or sandfly.

"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."

M&S is the first retailer to react to Dr Pritchard's campaign and has changed the labelling on its packaging.

An M&S spokeswoman said: "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."

Tesco has also said it will be reviewing the name of its product.

A spokesman for the supermarket said: "We are a diverse and inclusive retailer and we would not want any of our products to cause offence.

"We are grateful to Dr Pritchard for bringing this to our attention."

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