An Open Letter To Anyone Who Still Uses The R-Word

An Open Letter To Anyone Who Still Uses The R-Word

It's time to change.
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I'm amazed by the amount of times I hear the words “retard" or “retarded" leave the mouths of the people around me. Each time, I actually cringe, as if it physically hurts my ears to hear. In a sense, it does. My surprised and often pained expression incites some colorful excuses from the verbalizer. “Oh, I didn't mean it like that," and “Well, I'd never actually say that to someone with special needs," are just a few of the justifications people give to their derogatory use of the R-word. It makes my skin crawl to even type it.

The first use of the words "retard/retarded" was in the late 1890s, in relation to describing an individual with intellectual or developmental impairments. At first, the word had scientific implications. When the public began to use it as a derogatory term to refer to others is when it took on its offensive tone. Originally, the words "retard" and "retarded" meant no harm. After a while, it began to be thrown around as an insult. When somebody's friend did something stupid, they were called a "retard." If someone's teacher gave them a heavy workload, the class was "retarded." Purposefully or not, the once scientific term has been turned into a dehumanizing insult.

If you are one of the many who still, unfortunately, use the R-word in your everyday language, it's time you get with the times and educate yourself as to how your words affect others. I have been fortunate enough as a young adult to have had copious experience as a mentor, coworker, and most importantly, as a friend to numerous individuals with varying levels of intellectual disabilities. I'm even lucky enough to be a big cousin to an amazing young man with autism. These individuals have touched my life in ways I never will be able to fully explain to people who do not know them. To the world, their limitations are a disability. To me, and anyone else lucky enough to know them, their limitations give them a unique ability. I have learned more from my friends with intellectual impairments than from anybody else. They taught me how to love freely, without limitation. They taught me the ability of compassion. Without a judgmental bone in their bodies, they taught me the importance of choosing to see the best in people. They taught me the virtue of patience and how to smile through my toughest days. They taught me how to be a friend.

Because of this, I will never understand why the outdated scientific terms "retard" and "retarded" are still used for offensive purposes. Not only is it mean, it makes you sound simpleminded and uneducated. Regardless of whom you say it to or how you mean (or don't mean) it, calling somebody a retard and/or retarded is extremely ignorant and offensive. The implications behind the R-word are derogatory and insulting. By using the r-word in your everyday language, you are hurting individuals with intellectual disabilities whether you intend to or not. You are hurting my friends and making it OK for others to do so as well. What do you usually do when others are mean to your friends? Do you get mad? Sad? Plan revenge? Your use of the words "retard" and "retarded" hurts each individual with intellectual disabilities, not to mention their friends and families. This includes my friends and myself. All we ask is for you to change the way you speak.

It's time to remove the R-word from your vocabulary. The English language has a vast arsenal of words to describe things that are stupid or unpleasant. Use another word to describe how you feel about something. Replace the words "retard" and "retarded" with my personal favorite R-word: respect. Learn to respect others for their differences. Eliminate the R-word from your everyday speech. Foster an accepting and inclusive environment for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Educate yourself. Stop hurting my friends.

Spread The Word To End The Word is a national campaign that educates the world on the harmful effects of the use of the R-word. They have created a pledge for others to encourage the elimination of the words "retard/retarded" from everyday speech. Pledge your support below and join us in celebrating national Spread The Word To End The Word Day of Awareness:

www.r-word.org

Cover Image Credit: http://bakersdozenandapolloxiv.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/IMG_0130-bw-blog.jpg

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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Supporting Late-Term Abortion Is Actually The Opposite Of Feminism

Feminism is about gender equality and women supporting women- so shouldn't we support the unborn women of tomorrow?

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Before you read this, if you are someone who feels strongly that abortions are the "right" choice and that supporting late-term abortions is a step for woman anywhere, I do not suggest you read this article. However, I do want to write that I support conditional abortions- situations where the birth can kill the mother or where conception occurred because of rape. If someone rapes you, that is not okay by any means, and a baby conceived of rape can be terminated by the mother to avoid PTSD, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and any other mental health diagnoses. Of course, if a woman can bring a baby into the world to keep or give up for adoption, even if it was the product of rape, she should seek life for the innocent child rather than death. And what a rape victim chooses to do is neither here nor there- and it damn well is not anyone else's business.

So why should it be my business (or anyone's) if women have late-term abortions? Agreeing to murder out of convenience should not be societally accepted as okay. When the law passed in New York for late-term abortions, I did not picture 39-week pregnant women rushing to Planned Parenthood to abort their child because they got cold feet. I highly doubt that is the exact scenario for which the law went into effect for, and that was more so intended for women who did not realize they were pregnant and missed the time period to get a legal abortion.

Not that I support early-term abortion, because all abortion is the same regardless of when it happens during the pregnancy. Killing someone sooner rather than later does not make it less worse.

Excuses about how women are not ready to be mothers, do not have the financial means, would ruin their futures, they would get kicked out, lose their bodies, etc. are just that- excuses. Carrying a child for nine months might be an inconvenience, but killing someone will be on your conscience forever. If murders pleaded their motives to police as a way to justify what they did (excluding self-defense), what difference is it if a woman kills her unborn child?

Planned Parenthood might be taboo and have a stigma attached to it, but it does so much more than kill babies. Planned Parenthood is a place where girls can go to see OB/GYNO, get birth control, and learn about safe sex, protection, STDs, etc. Instead of stigmatizing it, young women should be encouraged to go to this institution for woman and feminism. Let high school health classes plan field trips there so that everyone becomes more educated on female health (boys included!). Female health education is very limited, especially in school, and many women feel that an abortion is their only way out, however, it's not. By becoming more educated, the rate of teen pregnancies can go down, as well as the need for abortions. Women educating other women should be the goal of Planned Parenthood, and abortions should be reserved for those who got raped or whose pregnancy cause death, health complications, etc.

Abortion might be giving women a choice- but who is giving the unborn babies a choice?

And of course the only way to 100% prevent pregnancy is abstinence, and if that is your choice then good for you, and if you choose to have sexual intercourse, good for you too. Be safe. No slut shaming here. Women need to continue supporting other women, regardless of their sex life. Women who have abortions are not "whores" and should not be labeled as such- they are just people whose biology reacted to another person's biology.

If you truly do not want to have a baby, please please please give it up for adoption and do not kill it. It did nothing wrong, and yeah, it might be a little inconvenient to be pregnant, especially if you are in school, but there are hundreds of thousands of people that would love nothing more than to raise your baby. Be a woman supporting other woman and give the gift of motherhood.

If you take away anything from this article it's this:



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