Supermarket giant Tesco has removed a range of clothes featuring pictures of animals wearing spectacles and the words ‘nerd’ and ‘geek’ after a mum complained they would cause her toddler son with eye problems to be BULLIED.
Aneliese Whittaker, 28, launched a campaign demanding the t-shirts be pulled from sale claiming they “stereotype” people who wear glasses – including 18-month-old Logan.
Cute Logan was born with dense cataracts in both eyes and wears thick “goggle-like” blue-rimmed specs with powerful prescription lenses.
Aneliese says she was outraged when she saw Tesco selling a range of t-shirts which featured pictures of different animals wearing glasses – and the words ‘geek’ or ‘nerd’ underneath.
She said the design would see her son and other visually-impaired youngsters bullied and launched a Facebook campaign demanding their removal from shelves.
Tesco has now issued an apology to Aneliese, of Ifield, Surrey, and say they are discontinuing the entire line.
Aneliese said: “Logan is regularly teased by other children for his goggle-like glasses and this is all before he has even stepped foot in the playground.
“Luckily he’s too young to understand he looks different to other children with his glasses, but this Tesco range is really disturbing.
“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.”
Mum Aneliese Whittaker lives with carpenter fianc? Dave Kelly.
She said: “My problem wasn’t with adult clothing with ‘geek’ or ‘nerd’ on them.
“I understand that geek culture is all the rage for some people these days, and they are either proud of the term or use it ironically.
“But children don’t understand irony. When they call my son a ‘nerd’ they mean it in a mean way, and that isn’t right.
“I’m glad Tesco understand my point, and have acted so swiftly. It is not okay for children to use those words as an insult.
“Children can be so cruel sometimes, and do not need any encouragement from their own clothing.”
The t-shirt which most upset his mum was a boy’s top, which featured a print of a lion wearing glasses, and the word ‘nerd’ emblazoned below.
Logan has to wear special glasses, which are manufactured in America with half-inch-thick lenses.
He has already had corrective surgery on his eyes three times and the thick cataracts mean he has very little peripheral vision, and gets scared when he’s not wearing his glasses.
Proud mum Aneliese says they are so thick the cute kid has already been taunted and she wrote a scathing message to Tesco via their Facebook page, after she discovered the “distasteful” shirts.
The range also includes pyjamas and tops for girls which feature a picture of a pair of glasses over the word ‘geek’.
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.”
Red-faced Tesco pulled the entire range of children’s t-shirts from their online store after receiving Aneliese’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.”