Ranty Friday — It was an Error

That’s all right then, isn’t it?

It was an error.

A single mistake.  Oopsie.     We have blamed it on an error so let’s all just move along and forget it ever happened shall we?  Oh and to make ourselves feel better and make it sound like we care we have donated £25,000 to the charity, Mind.

I am sure you know what I am talking about, but if you don’t, I am referring to the stocking in Asda this week of a Hallowe’en costume of a “mental patient”.   A costume that consists of a bloodied outfit and a machete.  And in Tesco a “Psycho Ward” costume consisting of something that looks like a Broadmoor uniform.

Cos that’s what mental patients look like isn’t it?  Something out of  One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.    Some stereotypical “psycho”.   Not your next door neighbour.   Your mum.   Your brother.   Your boyfriend.   Your best friend.   The person who serves you in Waitrose.   The mum standing next to you at the school gates who has used very ounce of her being to get there at all.

No they don’t look mental so they can’t be.   You can only have a mental health issue if you look psychotic.

Mental people look mental and they all look like that.  And not only that but we should dress up like them when we go out scaring people for Trick or Treat.  Yes, we should dress up and pretend to be mental patients and psychos.

Parents, inlaws, kids, look away now please

For fuck sake.   Is it any wonder that mental health issues are still a taboo in this country?  That people feel they can’t talk about them?   When they have shit like this to deal with from two of the biggest companies in Britain?

“I can’t tell my employer I need a day off to see my counsellor, he will think I am going to stab him”.

“Is that what I look like to people?”

What utter utter bollocks

Parents, inlaws and kids you can look back now

When is this going to end?  When are people going to realise that this is not something that should be joked about.   Not something to be used to dress up as on fright night.   This is real.   This is going on in people’s homes.   The stigma.  The taboo.  The feeling of helplessness spirally out of control.  The feeling that they are being portrayed like this.

Oh but it’s okay.  Asda said it was an error.   Oopsie.   Tesco said something equally pathetic.

Let’s analyse that error shall we.

A design team made that costume

It was designed, signed off and agreed to be put into production

A factory produced it.

A shop floor manager checked it and packaged it up

It was displayed somewhere for an Asda and Tesco Buyer to see it.

That Buyer said “Yes, we must have that in our Hallowe’en line this year.  Let’s have <insert extraordinary number, let’s say 10,000>

They were then put on display in stores around the country.   They listed it on their websites.

At no single point did anybody say “err…. hold on a minute.  This isn’t funny.  In fact this is very wrong.   Can we not do this?”.

Not one.   So, no, Asda and Tesco, this was not an error.

This was a major fuck up.   Major.  And you don’t get out of it by making a donation to charity and saying on Twitter “oops we made an error”.

You know what you do?  You get a mental health professional in to every single store.  To every single office and you make every single employee in your organisations sit through a presentation on dealing with Mental Health.

I saw this on Twitter yesterday and it perfectly summed it up from me.  From a great guy called Spencer who like many of us has lost friends to suicide and understands about mental health issues.


And then I read a blog post and wept.   Wept.  Big fat rolling tears.   This is real life.   Real life for somebody who is not only dealing with a mental health on a daily basis but has had to put up with this “error” on top of it.  Can you imagine how that makes her feel?

Have a read of Clara’s post and then come back and please tell me if you think this is still “an error”



Ranty Friday,  a weekly link up for rants, old or new on any subject.   Do go and have a read of the other rants.

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  • I caught the tail end of this on the radio news yesterday and I had to look it up online as I thought I must have misunderstood something. Having worked at a marketing agency I know how many people these things have to be green-lighted by before they get anywhere, and that astounds me, and disgusts me. It’s time for people to show their disgust with their wallets as far as I’m concerned, as that’s the only thing that counts for big companies like these.

  • I was shocked to see this on Wednesday night. At first, I thought it was some sort of awful joke – a fake website or the like. When I realised it was true I went from disbelief to just feeling sad. Despite many people feeling more able to talk about mental health, we’ve clearly got such a long way still to go before the stigma and lack of understanding is quashed. Great post.

  • Terrible decision made by many ignorant people and by those that know exactly what they are doing. Profit over integrity. It is time Asda and Tesco stopped and thought about the impact of many of their decisions. However I do think that the backlash and the visibility of mental Health charities on the news yesterday will help to move things forward. It is time to talk and it’s most definitely time to change.

  • Amazing and awful. You’d think someone at Asda or Tesco would have realised that this was completely out of order (and a potential customer relations disaster).

  • I stopped hopping at Asda and Tesco a long time ago. This type of thing doesn’t actually surprise me because they are too big to care. Their donation is a drop in the ocean for them, it means nothing.

    I was seriously disgusted yesterday when I read certain tweets making jokes about this – one from Ricky Gervais and another containing Katie Hopkins face portrayed as a mask. Despicable. This is why we live in a country where ignorance is rife.

    Tesco an Asda won’t be ashamed. They will move on. And people wil continue to shop there. That’s what’s sad about this. We all know these supermarkets should be closed down. But the ignorance in our society will keep them thriving.

    CJ x

  • Absolutely brilliant post. How ON EARTH could they make such a stupid mistake? As you say, all those people involved in production and not one of them stopped to think ‘hang on, this isn’t right… ‘ Surely these people must have had friends or family with mental health issues, maybe they even had them themselves. Maybe the corporate machines are too big to let people speak up and have their say because they fear for their jobs?

  • Our local Asda store is within walking distance of the Mental Health unit and the hospital. I wonder how many people seeking treatment went there and had all that good work undone by seeing it? What about the poor girl stacking the shelves who is recovering from PHD and struggling to put a smile on her face everyday for the customers? (And I know for a fact there is at least one person just like that in our local branch!)

  • Boring!!! I have mental health issues and not remotely bothered by this. I’m sure all the people that are ranting over tugs must have better things to think about for example yesterday there was fragments of a little girl buried because her killer is too sick & twisted to tell her parents where she is…. on Monday a group a horrible people walked into a shopping centre and started killing people….
    Seriously people save your strength for the evil people in the world not just the people that pee’d you off.

    • Well then I am glad you are not bothered by this. Sadly though many are. And just because you are not bothered by this doesn’t make it right. Yes, I am fully aware of the April Jones case and of course this issue must not detract from other issues going on around the world. But this is Ranty Friday and last time I looked it was my blog and if I want to rant about this particular issue then I will. I am not going to give my blog over to Al Shabaab or to Mark Bridger but I am going to highlight issues that have touched my friends, and more recently my family.

      Thanks very much

  • I can just about see where the commenter above (Seriously) is coming from on one level, but the issue is a very simple one… if people in big corporations think it’s ok to have ‘mental patient’ fancy dress, how are we ever going to get away from the stigma that mental health issues have? The reality is that a great many of us at some time will ever suffer from a mental health issue or know someone dear to them who is suffering. Because mental health issues are like physical health issues, they can happen to us all. Only difference is, it’s ‘ok’ to talk ad infinitum about physical issues but still seen as a bit ‘out there’ to discuss mental health issues, which is dreadful, because talking about mental health issues, sharing, unburdening, working through these issues can play a great part in helping a sufferer heal.

  • Oh Spencer is awesome. I missed that tweet – will dig it out and retweet now. This hasn’t just touched online people, all the parents I know are shocked by it, so I’m pretty sure this is by now a MASSIVE issue. One good thing is that people I know have mentioned friends of theirs who are managing mental illness. Perhaps some good will come of this, as people stand up and see that it’s ok to talk about your illness, and get help with it. It affects more than one or two people. It affects more than a quarter of the population, and that’s why it’s not boring, that’s why we need to be bothered.

  • *CLAPS*

    I am 100% with you here. I heard this on the radio my way back home last night and was completely shocked by how “whoops” they were about it all. How many public outings of company’s acting like this will it take before they actually stop and think about what they are doing!?

  • I was so shocked when I found out this had happened!

    I can actually imagine a pathetic meeting which went like, “Look at our new costume, “Psycho”.” “No, we’d better call it Mental Patient” to make it more PC.”

    That no-one picked up along the way how wrong this was?!

    A brilliant post, reminding us how sensitive we have to be to mental Health issues, which are all around us, often hidden.

    Love Spencer’s tweet!


  • I’ve seen so many selfies going round Twitter and Instagram after Spencer’s with “Hey Asda THIS is what a mental patient looks like”.

    What Asda/Tesco did was ridiculously stupid and thoughtless, but let’s hope it has at least brought the issue of mental health back into the public arena and people are talking about it more. That’s how stigmas are broken *tries to clutch at some straw of optimism*

  • I was listening to Alastair Campbell talk on the radio about this yesterday with someone who felt that people making a fuss over this were actually increasing the stereotyping more than Asda and Tesco were by producing the costume. Once the comment about having a costume of a chemo patient complete with no hair, IV and vomit stains came up he went a bit quieter and then said that he thought there wasn’t much problem with that either. I could have ripped the radio out – except that wouldn’t have done any good.

    I wonder what the poor people who’ve had to make the costumes have thought about how people here in the UK think and behave.

    I hate Halloween and everything that goes with it – for those of us who apparently look like these costume portray, people we don’t know, knocking on our doors essentially begging do nothing for my state of mind.

  • Abso-friggin-lutely. “Ooops” just doesn’t cut it. I’ve vented today about the sheer stupidity of people who are trying to play this down by saying highly offensive things like “You get naughty nurse costumes – but you don’t see them complaining” *Bangs head against wall*

  • Are we supposed to believe that so many people with Tesco and Asda have seen that costume before it went on sale but not one of them has though to themselves that it was inappropriate? I don’t think so!

    Great post x

  • Sadly, I’m not AT ALL surprised that this is how Asda conducts itself, especially now that it’s owned by Walmart. Someone very close to me lost a grandchild due to a fault with a crib sold by Walmart and even after it was proved that the crib was at fault, they refused to remove the item from their shelves, and as far as I’m aware, still sell it now.

    The arrogance and ignorance displayed is truly astonishing, and quite frankly, the token donation that they’ve made to Mind in an attempt to atone for this almighty gaffe is an insult. I just hope that no-one is harmed, long-term, by all of this.