There are many terms that were once widely used which held offensive origins and meanings towards certain groups. Now, in a more socially conscious society, we are rightfully abandoning these words. One example occurred recently when a popular sweet for kids was renamed to Mini Gems after being previously referred to as “Midget Gems.” The maker of the snack, Marks & Spencer, changed the name after complaints from an advocate.
About the Change
Dr. Erin Pritchard is an advocate for those with dwarfism, and she has been urging numerous companies to drop the offensive word from their products. She herself has achondroplasia, which is the most common form of dwarfism. Additionally, she lectures on Disability and Education at Liverpool Hope University.
She implored the companies, such as Marks & Spencer, Tesco, and Amazon, to remove the name from their products. In her experience, many firms aren’t even aware of how offensive the word is, despite the fact that it is deeply insulting.
However, she is grateful to M&S for actually listening and enacting change. Since then, another firm, Free from Fellows, has followed suit and dropped the offensive word as well. While these changes are positive, much more has to be done, especially as some companies have ignored her requests outright.
In order for more there to be more, concrete change, Dr. Pritchard believes that there must be a better understanding of the roots and hate behind the word. For one, its origins lie in Victorian freak shows, where people with dwarfism were mistreated and exploited. It is derived from the word “midge,” which means gnat, again showing how dehumanizing it is.
In the end, it is a deeply offensive word that has no place in product names.
Now, Tesco may be making a change as well. They’ve recently thanked Dr. Pritchard for pointing the issue out to them and are putting their product’s name under review. Hopefully, other companies also follow suit.
Achondroplasia is the most common form of dwarfism. This means that affected individuals are short in stature even as adults. The average height of a female with this condition is 4″1, while the average height of a male is 4″4. Along with the physical symptoms, people with achondroplasia experience decreased muscle tone, hydrocephalus, spinal stenosis, and apnea. All of these symptoms are the result of a mutated FGFR3 gene, which is either inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern or sporadic. This mutation causes the overactivity of a certain protein, leading to abnormal skeletal development. Besides vosoritide, there are currently no therapies available that are specific to achondroplasia; treatment is symptomatic.
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