The costume, which was on sale for £20 via the supermarket’s clothing division George, features a blood-spattered straitjacket with ragged edges, fake blood and a fake meat cleaver. Ads for the outfit showed someone covered in blood and holding a machete, while the product was described as a “terrifying Halloween option”.
In a statement on Twitter yesterday (September 25), Asda said the sale was a “completely unacceptable error” and that the outfit has now been withdrawn. It is also making a “very sizeable donation” to mental health charity Mind.
“[The costume] should never have been sold and it was withdrawn as soon as it was brought to our attention. We’re deeply sorry one of our fancy dress costumes has upset people,” the supermarket said.
The move comes after widespread criticism, with many people taking to Twitter to denounce the sale of the costume.
Meanwhile, Sue Baker, director of Mind’s “Time to Change” programme, which aims to end the stigma surrounding mental health, called the outfit “staggeringly offensive”. The charity says that one in four people suffer some form of mental health problem.
“Some of the worst myths that fuel this stigma is the assumption that we’re going to be dangerous, knife-wielding maniacs and that is simply not the case. The stigma can be life limiting and life threatening because people don’t think they can talk to anybody,” said Baker, speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live.
Asda is not the only retailer to sell fancy dress costumes referencing mental health, with both Tesco and Amazon selling outfits that feature an orange boiler suit with “Psycho Ward” and “committed” written across the back. Tesco has now removed the item from its website and apologised for “any offence caused”.