Thursday, September 26, 2013

Actually, ASDA, apologising for that "mental patient" Hallowe'en costume is not enough

So, ASDA thought it was a good idea to put up a gruesome Hallowe'en outfit and bill it as a "mental patient's" outfit.

Gee, thanks. That sort of stereotype of people with mental health problems is why I lost my teens to Depression and a good bit of my 20s to Depression and Anxiety. If it had been easier to talk about these things, maybe, just maybe, I'd have had the help I needed sooner. Encouraging such awful and inaccurate stereotypes is offensive and irresponsible

What gets me is that more than one person must have seen that before it went live. Why did it not ring alarm bells with them? It just shows how deeply prejudices are engrained and how much we still have to do to challenge the stigma of mental illness.

But, anyway, it's fine now. ASDA have apologised and donated a sum to a mental health charity. Actually, not, it's not. They deserve to take some punishment for ever having done it in the first place. It dawned on me that a day's boycott is the very least that they deserve.

With Scottish Mental Health Awareness Week beginning on 4th October, it dawns on me that Saturday 5th might be a good day to ask people not to shop there.

Tesco and Amazon, too, have been guilty of the same sort of thing, so they can share the pain, too. And anyone else who thinks it's ok to cast people with mental illness in that way, making it more difficult for them to seek the help that they need. You worry how your family, your friends, your employer would react enough without these stores planting the ridiculous idea that you're about to run amok with a meat cleaver.

There are times when saying sorry isn't enough, and this is one of them.


Anonymous said...

I've suffered from mental health issues extensively, but it doesn't make me want to stop people from continuing codified tropes, such as Frankensteins monster, the mummy or, indeed, the bedlam patient (you could take similar exception to Davro's straitjacket). I've never thought that these things were a direct attack on my family or myself; although I'm sure that continually lumping mental illness in with psychopaths is unhelpful, it's a common concept and you're over-focused on a single facet.

I don't understand why everything is about boycotts, bans and punishment for you - it's the mentality of an extreme authoritarian and I find this desire to tell others what to do far more offensive than the halloween costume. There are good reasons these tropes have endured, many common Halloween costumes are based on fictional characters with some form of mental illness - Jason Vorhees, Michael Myers, Freddy Kruger, The Master, etc. Tesco didn't just decide to invent a connection, society at large has been pushing that idea for a long time, just like Mary Shelley made out that scientists were a bunch of lunatic monster creators. Rather than blame single sources and try to punish them, how about considering the broader issue and how we might tackle that?

This is another anti-Liberal attempt to make the world conform to your concept of how it should be! So, ban Doctor Who - it's full of the kind of stereotypes you seem hung up on and it's reinforcing those notions in children! Your anger can often look like prejudice, and usually serves to portray you in a similar light to those you seek to punish.

Julie Roo said...

Well said. X


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