While we’re dealing with Naughty Leopard costumes for kids that don’t even remotely resemble actual leopards, British retailers have their own hands full with controversial Halloween outfits. Across the pond they’re called “Fancy Dress Costumes” and with names like “Psycho Ward” and “Mental Patient,” retailers selling them are coming under fire from the mental health community.
Just like a purple corset and some cute ears don’t accurately portray any real leopards, bloodied clothes and a ghoulishly grinning specter wielding a meat cleaver (“Mental Patient”) and a terrifying masked figure threatening folks with a hypodermic needle (“Psycho Ward”), critics say those costumes are offensive to anyone with a mental health condition.
Walmart subsidiary Asda pulled the former costume and Tesco yanked the latter after social media erupted in Britain over the outfits, reports CNN.
An Asda spokeswoman said the company is offering “sincere apologies for the offense” the costumes had caused. “This was an unacceptable error and the product was withdrawn immediately,” she said in a statement. “We take our responsibilities very seriously which is why we will make a sizable donation to [mental health organization] Mind.”
Tesco also issued an apology, saying in a statement: “We’re really sorry for any offense this has caused and we are removing this product from sale.”
Mind says it’s glad the retailers have pulled the costumes, saying Asda and Tesco were “extremely misguided” by selling them in the first place.
“It is staggeringly offensive to the one in four of us affected by mental health problems and our families and friends, and troubling that some businesses are still so out of touch with the public mood,” a spokeswoman for Mind said in a statement. “We hope this will urge Asda, Tesco and other retailers and manufacturers to review their processes and consider taste and decency on mental health grounds, to avoid fueling stigma and discrimination that are so damaging for large numbers of the population.”