Stop Using The R-Word

Stop Using The R-Word

Rather than distancing ourselves from the true meaning of "retard," we must humanize individuals with disabilities.
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Retard. Gay. Slut. Our language's vernacular is embedded with slurs such as these, used on a daily basis without regard to what they denote. These terms are used thoughtlessly, in a derogatory and offensive manner, to put people down. The term "retarded" has become so standard that even intelligent and thoughtful people use it to describe something as stupid or senseless. Our society is so accustomed to using the term that we do not even realize its effect.

Two summers ago, I had one of the most uplifting and eye-opening experiences of my life. I worked as a counselor at Camp Starfish, a summer camp for children with mental, behavioral, and emotional difficulties. Living with these campers for three months opened my eyes to their daily struggles; yet, the strength and positivity they radiated through their difficulties blew me away. They are some of the most inspirational, loving individuals I have ever met. It breaks my heart to imagine anyone hurting or victimizing any of them. Why do we employ a term used to describe their medical issues in such a derogatory, demeaning manner?

The problem is that people forget that the term they are using is the equivalent of a racial or gender slur. You mean to hurt the person or thing you are describing, but do you really mean to perpetuate this negative stereotype? There are literally hundreds of other terms you can use to describe a bothersome stimulus, so steer clear of this one. Rather than distancing ourselves from the true meaning of "retard," we must humanize individuals with disabilities and recognize that the use of the term is personally deprecating. You inadvertently categorize these people into a singular group, founded upon stereotypes, prejudice, and inequality. Whether you realize it or not, there are individuals in this world who look up to you. Is this the message we want to be delivering to future generations? Children in schools are running around calling each other "retarded" without recognizing the effect that language has. And those who fall into this category of special needs are given the message that it is an insult to be someone like them. Think about the effect that has on a child's self-worth as they attempt to grow up in a society that inadvertently affronts them.

There is such a strong stigma surrounding mental illness, and the callous use of this term is only furthering this effect. Individuals fear being diagnosed with any sort of mental difficulty because it makes them feel different and less worthy. Using the word "retarded" in a belittling manner is only perpetuating that stigma. The use of this term is directly making other individuals feel like lesser human beings. Is this really what you want your impact to be on this world? According to the new Diagnostic and Statistics Manual, 46.4 percent of Americans will have diagnosable mental illnesses in their lifetimes. That's almost half of our population. Just because a developmental disability does not manifest physically, it does not mean an individual does not have an issue, so if you think you can monitor your use of the term around those not impacted, think again.

Still not convinced? Imagine the case of a deaf, blind, or paralyzed individual. Would you use their disabilities in terms of insults? To put it into perspective, try replacing the term "retarded" with "handicapped" and see what happens. Imagine your child, your sibling, or your parent struggling with a mental difficulty, and through it all being surround by people with the r-word on their lips. And if you make the argument that we all have the right to free speech, and you're not "saying it offensively," then you are missing the point. This is not about political correctness or your right to free speech. It's about respect, thoughtfulness, and humanity. It's about erasing ignorance from our society and recognizing the hardships that these individuals go through. Individuals with mental difficulties experience an entirely different world—yet they emerge just as successful as those without that handicap. To overcome all they have to and still have a positive outlook on life? There's nothing derogatory about that. It's honorable.

I recently took the pledge to spread the word to end the word. You can too, just click here. Trust me, you'll be glad you did.

Cover Image Credit: Boston Globe

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An Honest Review Of ItWorks! From Someone Who Doesn't Sell The Products

No, I'm not looking for you to "join a team" or begin any challenges.
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I'm sure you've seen your friends on Facebook transition from friend to salesman. Whether it be for Scentsy, LipSense, or AdvoCare; multi-level marketing companies are on the rise thanks to social media. ItWorks! remains one of the most prominent.

ItWorks! is a health and wellness company using primarily plant-based ingredients without any artificial sweeteners or coloring. Their "number one seller" is the famous body wraps but the company is mostly weight loss supplements and vitamins. The company has a passion for the natural over the synthetic. Co-founder Mark Pentecost states on the site's Our History page that "you want to know that you're putting the very best things in your body."

Since most reviews of these products come from distributors, who are therefore biased, I have reviewed three of their greatest products and one I believe you should avoid.

1. Greens™ Blend Chocolate

As a vegan, I sometimes have to double check that I'm receiving the proper nutrients. ItWorks! Greens have been saving my life lately. It contains 52 herbs and nutrient-rich superfoods as well as 34 fruits and veggies. It is meant to alkalize, balance, and detoxify.

This is my favorite product! It gives me energy and even fills in for breakfast sometimes. It honestly makes me feel great. Then again... they always said eating all your fruits and veggies would!

ItWorks! gives you those healthy servings in a delicious chocolate flavor (which is bomb with almond milk). Make sure you use a blender bottle or blender. Like many powdered supplements, it can have that grainy aftertaste.

2. Advanced Formula Fat Fighter™

The idea behind this supplement is that it’s "okay to indulge if you have your Fat Fighters." Basically, if you just must have that sweet treat or piece of bread then you can take this pill within an hour to prevent your body from absorbing the carbs and a portion of the fats. If you're anything like me, you eat what you want when you want, so you'll end up taking these pills on the daily.

The main reason I like the Fat Fighters is that they reduce cravings and I normally have such a sweet tooth!

3. ThermoFIGHT™

This product is meant to increase calorie burning, boost the rate of your metabolism, and boost your energy. Like with Greens, I definitely feel energized when I take this supplement. Not in a jittery or wired way, either.

They say "abs start in the kitchen" but I'll try and cheat the system when I can!

4. Ultimate Body Applicator™ and Defining Gel™

This is the ItWorks! claim to fame... and that ASTOUNDS me.

I used to be so skeptical of this company because of the wraps. I tried them three different times and was not impressed each time. The ultimate body applicator and defining gel are meant to tighten and tone the skin to redefine the appearance of your body’s contour. Sure, you'll receive those results... just at an outrageous price. It's an expensive product that requires a lot of re-purchasing in order to receive any drastic results. Not to mention the most drastic results are just reduction of water weight.

They're really just an overpriced skin firming lotion. I suggest finding a nice cream from Target and sitting in the sauna instead.

If your facebook-friend-turned-salesman pushes for you to buy the wraps, just remember that I warned you.

I would like to give an honorary mention to KetoCoffee (probably their second most popular item). Because it is not vegan, I have not given it a try. I have heard amazing things from multiple women, though. Most keto coffee recipes give people the shakes and amp them up too hard. I've heard that ItWorks! has perfected the recipe.

I have used the first three products for a little over three months now. Sometimes I am inconsistent and miss servings. However, I match these products with a vegan diet (mostly whole foods based) and 3-4 days of exercise. I do not have drastic results but I have lost a little over ten pounds and feel great each day. I plan to remain a customer with this company (I have Greens on Autoship!).

I feel so blessed to be a Loyal Customer with ItWorks! because I receive up to 40% off and free shipping after three months. Without this discount, I probably never would have given this company a second thought. I highly recommend going that route because, well...

Cover Image Credit: Savanah Garcia | Instagram

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I'm Chronically Sick And It Made Me Appreciate The Little Moments In Life

My doctor's office became a second home to me, but never gave me the answers I needed.

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People get sick all the time, a cold here, the flu there. It doesn't seem like anything out of the ordinary to get sick a few times a year - I wish that was the case for me.

I have always been the kid in class who seemed to get a cold every couple weeks. It never caused an issue in school, I always pushed through.

As I got older I got sicker.

If I look back at the last year and compare the times I was sick to my friends, you would be amazed. One of my friends would get a cold and it would pass in a few days. I would catch the same cold, and it would stay with me for multiple weeks. This happened every time someone around me was sick, it didn't matter that I had had the same virus two weeks prior. My body couldn't shut out illness.

I remember the day I came into the editor's office at the magazine I was working for and everyone froze at the sight of me. I had mono, strep throat, and a sinus infection - all at the same time. I looked like a walking ghost. To make it worse, I had already had mono and strep throat previously that winter.

My doctor's office became a second home to me, but never gave me the answers I needed. Everything was just a little annoying until it got serious.

Halfway through fall semester at Washington State University, I faced the scariest medical moment of my life so far. I started getting stabbing pains in my left side. They escalated over the next couple weeks, but I didn't have the time to get it checked out. School, work, my friends, and my boyfriend at the time kept me busy.

It got to the point I couldn't stand it anymore.

When I finally went into the hospital the doctors were amazed I was still as active as I was. I had developed a massive infection in my left kidney. My doctor ordered a rush CT scan to ensure I didn't have to have surgery. In the meantime, I was on multiple painkillers and medications, bedridden for over a week. The results finally came back and I was in the clear. With that said, I now only have half of my left kidney function and it is unclear if I will gain it back.

I was lucky that I didn't lose my kidney from that infection. With that said, I lost my job, my depression levels rose and I barely passed my classes last semester due to the complications. My sickness had finally caught up with me, and that was the final straw.

Once I recovered from my infection I started seeing an immune specialist. We discovered that my sinuses had been stripped of all needed particles that filter out viruses and that my body was a boundaryless breeding ground for bacteria.

I'm defenseless against getting sick.

To this day we still do not know what is going on, but we are constantly doing testing to try to make my life as easy as it can be medical wise. I will always be sick, but the experiences I have had have only made me appreciate the little moments in life more. While I hate the fact I'm getting sicker, and it makes me struggle with self-love, it is something I'm constantly learning from.

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