Today, like every Sunday, I opened the newspaper to see what was new in the world. Then I checked out what was on sale, going through the flyers of local, brand-name stores. Today, I was shocked at the advertisement in a K-mart flyer.
On the Family Denim Event page, dead center of the layout, was Juniors’ tees being sold for $9.89 with a message on the front so stigmatizing that I had to take a picture and post it in today’s blog post.
Stigmatic expressions toward mental illness; what I would only have expected to see online has now gone mainstream!
On the first shirt it says, “I’M NOT CRAZY! MY IMAGINARY FRIENDS CAN PROVE IT!” And the second T-shirt said: “GONE CRAZY, BACK IN 5 Minutes.”
Now it’s not the first time I’ve seen T-shirts with stigmatic expressions on them. Let’s face it, what adults wear on their chest is up to them and I believe it probably is covered by their First Amendment rights. And if an adult wears a T-shirt that stigmatizes mental health or expresses their belief in government or religion, it’s really not going to get a whole lot of notice – well, unless they’re a superstar with paparazzi following them every minute.
Is Kmart Stigmatizing Children With Mental Illness By Selling Offensive T-shirts?
These T-shirts are being marketed to children, school age children, in an environment that is ripe for discrimination.(3/1/12 clarification: ANYTHING THAT affects children is where I draw the line! )Not only does is perpetuate the stigma of mental illness, it fuels the fire of hate, You may say, “Chato, it’s just a T-shirt, you of all people should know the power of humor!”
Humor that builds UP has power. Humor that ENCOURAGES has power. Humor that brings JOY has power. Humor that perpetuates hate like these Kmart T-shirts have no place being displayed and worn by children!
This is teaching children that it’s okay to call someone “crazy,” “retarded,” “stupid,” “ignorant,” and a host of other names. Whether it is self-deprecating, as these T-shirts try to be, or blatantly insulting others, i’s not funny!
Humor should not hurt others or yourself. These T-shirts are demoralizing and could be borderline contributing to the delinquency of a minor; since it is perpetuating hate by stigmatizing mental illness.
Yes, it’s a fine line, but it’s well-defined here in these T-shirts that Kmart is selling. It is as if they are promoting the idea of: “hey, make fun of mentally ill people and just laugh it off.”
Am I being too sensitive here?! I don’t think so. I’m sure if the T-shirts said “I’m not retarded I just look that way,” you might feel that would be offensive. That too would be a self-deprecating expression.
Let me play the devil’s advocate for a second. Could this just be an oversight from Kmart’s department store design and branding department? Do you believe they might’ve had a conversation about whether or not they should print or or even sell such T-shirts? One thing about fashion is that it’s there’s always a new trend. The big department stores are always trying to keep up and sadly, what is trending among teens are T-shirts that express stigmatic, self-deprecating, rude and many times crude expressions.
Is this just Kmart trying to stay in the game to get a piece of the financial mega-lucrative teen customer? Teens fuel our economy’s “opportunity cost,” this is a financial term meaning when you chose not to spend money on something necessary and replace it with something desired (example – a teenager buying the latest smart phone over buying gas/repairs for their car… or buying a new trending fad and fashion than spending their money on last seasons’ cheaper discounted fashion).
In short, Kmart could just be trying to tap into the billions of dollars spent on fashion.
What do you think? Should Kmart stop selling these (stigmatic) T-shirts?
Stewart, C. (2012). Kmart Stigmatizes Children With Mental Illness – Selling Offensive T-shirts. Psych Central.
Retrieved on March 10, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/humor/2012/02/kmart-stigmatizes-children-with-mental-illness-selling-offensive-t-shirts/