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One of Target’s new Christmas sweaters, which is being marketed as an “ugly Christmas sweater,” is proof that puns aren’t always funny, at least not to everyone.
Some consumers have accused the retail giant of minimizing mental illness by selling a red sweater that uses the letters OCD for “Obsessive Christmas Disorder” instead of obsessive-compulsive disorder, a mental illness that afflicts millions of people in the United States, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Kate Gannon wrote on Twitter: “Hey @Target this sweater isn’t cute or funny. OCD is a serious mental illness that shouldn’t be mocked.”
“@Target as someone with OCD I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t sell my illness as a fashion statement,” wrote Reign Murphy on Twitter.
The backlash Target is facing may bring to mind the uproar in some circles against Starbucks’ red holiday cup. But the situations couldn’t be more different.
In fact, if you think people are overreacting to Target’s sweater, understanding the nature of OCD may make you change your mind.
OCD is a “potentially disabling illness that traps people in endless cycles of repetitive thoughts and behaviors,” according to WebMD. Roughly 2.2 million American adults suffer from OCD. More than a quarter (27 percent) of OCD sufferers attempt suicide.
“[When] understanding the severity of OCD as mental illness, one might better understand the distaste that sufferers and significant others in their lives might have for this particular sweater,” Antoinette D’Orazio, a psychotherapist specializing in treating OCD, said in an interview with Today.
Despite the criticism from shoppers, the sweater in question is still being sold online and in some Target stores. The retailer said it doesn’t plan on pulling the sweater from its stores.
“We never want to disappoint our guests and we apologize for any discomfort. We currently do not have plans to remove this sweater,” said a Target spokesperson in an email to Time.
Target didn’t invent the OCD Christmas pun, nor is the retailer alone in selling “Obsessive Christmas Disorder” merchandise. Time said Cracker Barrel is also facing public ire for some of the OCD Christmas items it sells in its store.
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