Is Asda's latest Hallowe'en costume completely mental?
Oh dear Asda. In a fit of shocking taste, Asda’s decision to sell a mental patient costume for Hallowe’en has been criticised by all and sundry for pandering to outdated and harmful stereotypes. The costume has now been removed from sale, but we have a picture of what it looks like.
As you all know, decaying skin, blood spattered clothing and a meat cleaver are the top three ways in which you identify someone with mental health issues. These horrors certainly do not look just like you, or me, and are incredibly terrifying individuals, worthy of a scary costume.
Last night, Asda issued a statement saying the decision to sell the costume was a "completely unacceptable error” adding that it “should never have been sold and it was withdrawn as soon as it was brought to our attention."
Asda finished: "We're deeply sorry one of our fancy dress costumes has upset people."
Mental health charities have roundly deplored Asda's actions, and the supermarket has announced it will be making a “sizeable donation” to Mind by way of an apology. Fellow supermarketer Tesco has also withdrawn one of its Hallowe’en costumes named ‘Psycho’, in which the wearer sports an orange jumpsuit, a hockey mask and a machete, in anticipation of a related backlash.
But is it the costumes that are the problem or the name? The Tesco costume looks more like an escaped prisoner (or a famous art-loving cannibal) than someone with mental health issues, and the Asda costume was originally found under a link to a “zombie” costume. Would we have this debate over zombie and cannibal costumes?
Either way, it seems the stigma surrounding those with mental health is still alive and kicking, despite the much quoted statistics that one in four of us will suffer mental health problems during our life. And if you have three friends who seem normal- looks like you’re the nutjob.