Boohoo under fire for selling 'Obsessive Christmas Disorder' pajamas

Angry customers say Boohoo's new Christmas pajamas trivialize obsessive-compulsive disorder.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Gina Vivinetto

Not everyone's feeling festive about Boohoo's new "OCD" Christmas pajamas.

The U.K.-based fashion retailer has come under fire for selling a pajama set with a top that features the letters "OCD" written in red and green and the phrase "Obsessive Christmas Disorder" beneath it.

Mental health advocates say phrases like this are insensitive to those who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).Boohoo

Outraged customers from all over the globe took to Twitter to let Boohoo know the punny phrase, which seems to resurface every holiday season, is insensitive to those who actually suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD.

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OCD, according to the Mayo Clinic, is a condition in which a pattern of unreasonable thoughts and fears (obsessions) leads someone to do repetitive behaviors (compulsions). An estimated 2.2 million adults, or 1 percent of the U.S. population, suffers from the illness, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports.

TODAY reached out to a Boohoo representative for comment, but has yet to hear back. During the last few days, the company has dropped the pajamas from its website.

Removing the pajamas was the right thing to do, says Külliki Keller, a licensed mental health counselor in New York City who specializes in helping people with obsessive-compulsive disorder and other mental health issues.

"Those pajamas are insensitive to people who are suffering," Keller told TODAY Style. "They're making a joke out of something really serious."

Keller says she's heard plenty of such OCD jokes, and often they stem from a general misunderstanding of what the condition really is — and how much anguish it can cause.

OCD is not simply a preference for tidiness or orderliness, as is often believed, she explains. And, it's certainly not a deep love for something joyous — like Christmas.

"The people who actually have OCD are tortured by intrusive thoughts and images, and that is followed by a strong emotional reaction," she said. "It's really hard for them to cope."

Like many angry Twitter users, Keller questions if Boohoo would sell clothing that made fun of or trivialized other illnesses and diseases.

Still, the fact that the retailer listened to upset customers and removed the pajamas from its website is a step in the right direction, she says. With luck, she hopes the controversy will inspire people to learn more about OCD so they can become more sensitive about it.

"Even all the tweeting about it is good. In a way, now people may realize what OCD actually is and that it's nothing to joke about," she said.