Motherhood, mental illness and beyond

“Hey everyone! Want to really terrify your friends this Halloween? Why not buy this horrifying “diabetic” costume?”. I expect you’re a bit puzzled – that doesn’t make sense, what’s so scary about someone with diabetes? Why would dressing up as someone with a debilitating illness be appropriate for Halloween (or ever, for that matter)?

Well I’m just as bemused as you but Asda (the British supermarket owned by the American Walmart) seem to think that this is perfectly acceptable. So much so, in fact, that they’re selling a costume that does just this:

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Yes, you read that right. This is a “mental patient” costume. The description reads Everyone will be running away from you in fear in this mental patient fancy dress costume. Comprising of a torn blood stained shirt, blood stained plastic meat cleaver and gory facemask it’s a terrifying Halloween option.

Wow. Just wow. Mental illness affects 1 in 4 people every year, making it one of the most common life-altering illnesses in the UK. And yet it is stigmatised to the point where a leading supermarket thinks that selling a costume that perpetuates that stigma, is absolutely fine. No problem. Expect that of course it is a problem. The mentally ill are a vulnerable group, far more likely to be victims of violent crime than offenders. We are seen as “other”, as apart from society, as something to be avoided. This incredibly offensive costume not only encourages that view, it specifically endorses the idea that someone with a mental illness is violent and to be feared.

Still, every cloud has a silver lining – now that I know how utterly terrifying I apparently am, I won’t need to buy a Halloween costume this year.

Update: In the last few minutes Asda have tweeted an apology:

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Comments on: "Fear me! (Asda says you have to)." (6)

  1. Hurrah! Me neither. Good to know I can scare people simply by existing. That’ll save me a fortune.
    Will they be bringing out a special ‘lost leg fighting in Iraq’ costume? Frightening. Perhaps a rather fetching ‘lung disease’ one with its own oxygen tank? Or, my personal favourite, ‘radioactive chemo patient’ costume. The possibilities are endless!!
    Needlesstosay, Asda won’t be where I pick up my shopping on a frequent basis. At this rate, there isn’t going to be a supermarket in the country that I can shop in, morally. Going to end up in my local shops instead. Probably not a bad thing, really.

  2. Absolutely speechless!!Their CEO would do well to spend a day at the Mental health unit where i work and get a reality check!Ignoance at its worst.I’m shopping at Waitrose from now on.

  3. Well written Sam. I have mh problem plus work in a CMHT and I don’t think I’ve ever been so shocked – on so many levels! The historical asylum labelling on its own! Thank you for your post.

  4. […] story has been covered by a few good blogs … The GMHP, Clara, Caron’s musings, Candour,  and of course […]

  5. Hiya, asda also really annoyed me. Great post.

  6. Abso-friggin-lutely. I thought we’d moved on, and mental illness was no longer stigmatised. But this has completely opened my eyes. PND has taken me to depths I never thought possible, and my brother has depression as part of Multiple Sclerosis. But you’re right. We just need to put a sign round our necks saying “mental patient” this Halloween – and we’re sorted!

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