Marks & Spencer changes name of Midget Gems over fears they could cause offence

Thursday, 13th January 2022, 12:23 pm
Updated Thursday, 13th January 2022, 12:23 pm
Midget gem sweets

Marks and Spencer has become the first supermarket to axe the name Midget Gems from the popular sweets over concerns that it could cause offence.

The sweets have now been rebranded following an ongoing campaign by a disability academic, Dr Erin Pritchard of Liverpool Hope University.

The academic has been calling on supermarkets and confectionery makers to change the name.

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What is the new name of the sweets?

M&S have now rebranded its best-selling sweets as “mini gems”.

A spokesperson from the retailer 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.”

What is the campaign?

Dr Pritchard, a lecturer in disability and education, raised concerns to the chain over the use of the word “midget” which is seen as derogatory for people with dwarfism.

She is also campaigning for other supermarkets and confectionery makers to follow M&S’s lead.

Dr Pritchard who has achondroplasia, a condition which stunts growth, 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.”

Why is the term derogatory?

Dr Pritchard has had to put up with cruel and very nasty jibes from strangers mocking her four foot height.

She said: “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.”

“It was where people with bodies that exceeded normal expectations were put on display for others to stare at and often mock,” she added.

What other firms have changed the name?

Currently Marks & Spencer is the only retailer to confirm the name change.

However, Vegan-friendly firm Free From Fellows, whose products are on shelves at Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, WH Smith and Boots, has also ditched the term “midget gems”.

Dr Pritchard hopes other companies will follow suit as she continues with her campaign.

She said: “I’d be delighted if other retailers and manufacturers followed in the footsteps of M&S and Free From Fellows.”

A version of this article originally appeared on NationalWorld.com