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Marks and Spencer rebrands Midget Gems after claims name is offensive to people with dwarfism

Marks and Spencer has renamed its popular Midget Gems sweets to avoid offending people with dwarfism.

They will now be called Mini Gems after a disability academic raised concerns about the use of the word “midget”.

Dr Erin Pritchard, who has a condition that stunts growth called achondroplasia, approached a number of supermarkets and confectionary makers about changing the name.

The lecturer in disability studies at Liverpool Hope University said “midget” is seen as a derogatory term for people with growth problems and has previously called for the use of it to be seen as hate speech.

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M&S is the first to react to her campaign, saying it was “committed to being an inclusive retailer” as it rolled out the changed labelling.

A 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 announced it will be reviewing the name of its product, saying it is a “diverse and inclusive retailer” and would not want any of its products to “cause offence”.

Following the announcement, Dr Pritchard claimed “a lot” of people were getting “upset” about the change.

She tweeted: “It seems that there are a lot of average-sized men getting upset about the removal of the word midget from a packet of sweets.

“I didn’t realise they were so sensitive.”

The word ‘midget’ and Victorian freak shows

In her recent book, Dr Pritchard argues the word midget should be classed as a form of hate speech due to its origins in Victorian freak shows.

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.”

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