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High street giant Marks and Spencer has been forced to change the name of one of its iconic sweet treats.
Midget Gems will now be known as Mini Gems, after pressure from a disability academic.
The issue was raised by Dr Erin Pritchard of Liverpool Hope University, The Mirror reports.
The 35-year-old lecturer in disability and education 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 and Free From Fellows (a vegan sweet brand).
“Often referred to by people with dwarfism as the m-word, it is a term derived from the word ‘midge’, meaning gnat or sandfly.”
Midget Gems are small gummy treats, similar to a small wine gum.
Dr Pritchard continued: “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.”
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The supermarket confirmed the name change, claiming that it is committed to “being an inclusive retailer”.
Free From Fellows, also ditched the term “midget gems” from its products, found in Morrisons, WH Smith, Boots and Sainsbury’s.
Social media reacted with anger at the news.
@ToucheAdrian tweeted: “How long before the word Small is also seen as "hate crime", or "Tall" or "large"?”
And @SeanGus wrote: “I guess it's all down to the context and use of the word.
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“Calling someone who has a form of dwarfism a midget (noun) is quite different to enjoying a midget (adjective) gem where it's an innocent descriptor of a physical property of said item. Oversensitive woke warrior.”
A spokesperson for M&S confirmed the name change, saying: "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.”
- Marks and Spencer
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