Tesco removes 'nerd' and 'geek' clothes after complaint from mother of toddler with eye problems

Aneliese Whittaker complained range stereotyped people who wear spectacles

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The Independent Online

The supermarket giant Tesco has removed a line of clothing featuring pictures of animals wearing glasses with the words 'nerd' and 'geek' underneath, after a mother complained that they would cause her toddler son with eye problems to be bullied.

Aneliese Whittaker, 28, launched a campaign demanding that the range be removed because it stereotyped people who wear spectacles - including 18-month-old Logan.

Tesco has issued an apology to Ms Whittaker, of Ifield, Surrey, and say they are discontinuing the line.

Ms Whittaker said: "I understand that nerds and geeks are trendy now, but those words still have negative connotations to many. Those t-shirts were stereotyping, saying all people with glasses are nerds. It's profiling, and it's wrong.

"I am very pleased Tesco has taken my message seriously. Hopefully it will have an impact on the choices made by other retailers."

Logan was born with cataracts in both eyes and is regularly teased about his thick, goggle-like glasses, she claimed.

He has already had corrective surgery on his eyes three times, but has very little peripheral vision and gets scared when he's not wearing his glasses.

Ms Whittaker criticised the supermarket chain's decision to sell the "distasteful" items by posting on its Facebook page.

She wrote: "Tesco can you please tell me why it is acceptable to sell children's clothes that have pictures of animals wearing glasses with the word NERD / GEEK on them? It's 'fashion' statements like this that give children the negative associations to glasses.

"Teaching children that you are a 'geek' if you wear glasses, and are of a lower self-worth than the 'rest of the gang,' although it may only seem like a t-shirt to some people it's things like this that encourage bullying, damage self-image and leave a lasting idea in a young impressionable mind.

 "Why is it OK to have a negative connotation associated to someone's impairment? Why should my son grow up with people making fun of him because it's 'fashionable'?

"It may only be a t-shirt to some people but it's the message you, as a leading supermarket, are giving to young children. A message that will have negative impacts for some."

Tesco pulled the entire range of children's T-shirts from their online store after receiving Ms. Whittaker's complaint and issued an apology.

In an email to her, a Tesco spokesperson said: "The glasses/geek/nerd/dork graphic trend has been massive on the high street, and from a fashion perspective the words and glasses have been reclaimed as a sign of in fact being cool and trendy.

"However, I completely understand why you feel that this style might cause offence. I am very sorry that this has upset you, in no way did we intend for this t-shirt to suggest that it is OK to call any child names.

"I always see things from a design and trend perspective, but in this case I have not considered that this might be viewed by some as a negative association. Further to your complaint, the garment will be marked down and will be removed from the shop floor shortly."

A Tesco spokesman added: "We listen to our customers and in view of the feedback we've received, we will be removing this product from sale. We apologise if it has caused offence."