The name of Midget Gems sweets is being changed by Marks & Spencers to avoid offending people with dwarfism after a campaign led by Liverpool academic Dr Erin Pritchard.
Dr Pritchard lectures in disability studies at Liverpool Hope University and has argued that a midget is a form of hate speech. In a bid to show their commitment “to being an inclusive retailer” they have rebranded the old-fashioned sweet to Mini Gems.
Writing in the Big Issue North Dr Pritchard, who has achondroplasia, a condition which stunts growth, wrote in the 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.”
The phrase “midget” has its roots in Victorian freak shows, which is why Pritchard approached supermarkets and confectionery makers.
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.
“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.”