Yesterday, public scrutiny switched from Starbucks to Target when the retailer was accused of trivializing mental illness with a Christmas shirt. The shirt reads: OCD – Obsessive Christmas Disorder. Get it? Instead of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder! Because loving Christmas as much as Buddy the Elf is the same thing as a mental illness.
— Kate G (@garrulouskate) October 29, 2015
Before we got all worked up, we decided to ask our Warrior Mom Ambassadors who either dealt with postpartum OCD or live with OCD daily how they felt about the shirt. 14 warrior moms agreed to join the conversation and shared their opinions on the holiday sweater.
You should know, before we delve further into this subject, that we’re all feeling a little bit of outrage exhaustion. Between the Red Cuptastrophe of 2015 and whatever billion others came before, the women I spoke with all said that they’re just so tired of everything being turned into a gigantic uproar. Melissa Levy Jacobowitz even stated that if it wasn’t for all the other nonsense, it’s possible the shirt would bother her more.
With that said, let’s look at this from a calm, smart point of view.
Our group of moms as a whole didn’t take offense, though a couple of women did. Some women understood why the shirt might appeal to some, make others laugh, or even hit the nail right on the head. Amber Swinford Dunn said,
“I could understand how it might appeal to some. If I think about it, I could also think of some people for whom this would actually be an accurate descriptor. You know, those people who, the minute Halloween is out the door, break out the Christmas decorations and start listening to Christmas music.”
(Or before Halloween. You know who you are.)
While those women who didn’t like the shirt didn’t take straight to Twitter to yell at someone, they also felt some reservations about the message. They questioned the use of mental illness terminology as the butt of a joke.
Jessica Wilkinson LaBonte pointed out that the marketers likely wouldn’t use another non-mental illness medical condition.
“I understand the marketing scheme. But, knowing so many who suffer from severe debilitating OCD, I do not find it amusing at all. You wouldn’t create a shirt like this using cancer terminology. So why mental disorder terminology? It’s just tacky.”
Of course, with the trend of ugly Christmas sweaters, maybe they were going for tacky. Rebecca Smith, agreeing with the medical terminology point, stated that they should “be smart with their marketing.” Hard to argue that point, really.
Tabitha Grassmind chimed in with how she’d feel if they chose another mental illness acronym.
“I’m annoyed by the sweater. I think its distasteful, but mostly because if they used the PPD acronym, I would be outraged. I think mental illness should be off limits.”
What would PPD mean on a Christmas shirt? Potentially Pretty Decorations. I can see it now. We’ll make millions!
Joking aside, OCD, whether postpartum or not, is a serious mental illness. It’s not just being obsessed with Christmas decorations, turning carols on in September, or wearing jingle bell earrings until mid-February. 1 in 100 adults has OCD, and 1 in 10 new moms may have postpartum OCD. That’s a lot of people, too many of whom still go undiagnosed. Even with raised awareness of the illness, some still choose to hide their symptoms because of the stigma.
You know, like the kind of stigma that makes fun of a mental illness with a tacky Christmas sweater.
The holidays feel hard enough for new moms struggling with postpartum mood disorders. Making fun of potential postpartum OCD symptoms might keep some moms from seeking treatment at all, let alone immediately. The intrusive thoughts that accompany OCD can feel downright terrifying, so please know that there is hope for you. You are not alone, and you can beat postpartum OCD. We’re here for you.