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Monday, August 23, 2010

I Play Dress Up For A Living, Like A R*tard

Yes I'm going there.

I'm sure most of you have heard about Jennifer Aniston's use of the R-word while live on Live With Regis and Kelly.

It seems we go round and round when this issue comes up. A well-known person will use some form of the R-word and 2 camps immediately crop up - or maybe 3 (the third being the camp that could care less about all the hub-bub).

The 2 main camps are those that are offended by the everyday, casual, non-appropriate use of the word; and those that think people from said camp are overly sensitive.

Over and over I read comments on blogs or newspaper articles that we are too PC, too sensitive, taking it too seriously, it wasn't meant that way, of course she wasn't actually making fun of those with intellectual disabilities, of course it wasn't aimed at any one but herself, she was only making fun of herself. And on and on and on the excuses fall around me.

I beg to differ.

To those in the other camp I ask, "Did you really hear the context in which this was said?" She was talking about dressing up for a photo shoot and Regis said "You're playing dress-up" to which she interjected that now-infamous sentence, "I play dress up, I do it for a living... like a r*tard."

You tell me exactly how else am I supposed to interpret that. Because does a 'r*tard' play dress-up? And for a living? Really? What is a 'r*tard' in this instance? Would it have been more accurate to say maybe ... oh I don't know ... "I play dress up ... like a little kid." Because aren't little kids the ones who actually play dress-up? Ok not for a living, but it still would have been a better comparison.

How is it that someone who "plays dress-up for a living" is a r*tard? Hmm... don't actresses and actors 'play dress-up' for their roles and make a living doing so? Don't models play dress-up for a living? I fail to see how it was funny to say a 'r*tard' plays dress-up for a living. I fail to see how this wasn't aimed at anyone but herself.

I fail to see how I'm being too sensitive or too PC in this situation. I fail to see how this was supposed to be funny, I fail to see the point of what she said.

You tell me - what was the image that popped up in your head when she said "like a r*tard." Really. What did it make you think of? Because when you hear 'r*tard' what do you really think of? You can't tell me that 'r*tard' doesn't conjure up an image of someone with an intellectual disability. Someone who is a little different than you. Someone who struggles with things that may come easy to you. Someone who might learn a little, or a lot, slower than you. And this was funny how? Why did the hosts laugh, why did those in the audience laugh?

What she said was uncalled for, totally inappropriate, and made no sense. If she was comparing playing dress up for a living to a 'r*tard' then you tell me what she was really comparing herself to.

It wasn't funny. Words hurt. I don't care if I sound like a broken record. I have a child with an intellectual disability. Come walk in my shoes, or better yet my daughter's shoes, and then tell me/us we're being too sensitive, or too PC.

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32 comments:

Bailey's Leaf said...

You know, all too often people of influence and whatnot open their mouths and insert their feet-- all the way up to their hips.

The question of the day, does she really even know that what she said was offensive? Probably not without the media going after her about it. Then, some canned response will come out about how she was taken the wrong way, didn't mean it, was nervous and just blurted something dumb out . . .

Here's to hoping that this one doesn't get just excusively (my own language works here) swept under the rug.

heather said...

You couldn't have said this any better. I totally agree. When she said that I did think about Morgan and wondered why dressing up for a living would be compared to my daughter. I do worry that we are too PC at times but I feel like we are overly sensitive with things like people first language. This isn't PC, this is hurtful and ignorance. It's time for everyone to remove this hurtful word from their vocabulary! I hope you sent this post into the Oz squad.

Heather said...

I agree, Michelle. You know, I'll admit, many years ago, I didn't think anything of it when people used the "r" word. Until I heard it used in reference to my little sister when I was teaching at her school. She's developmentally disabled and there was a group of kids who were mocking her with her standing right there not even realizing that that's what they were doing. It wasn't until she walked away that the word was used but it didn't matter. She's a person. With a huge heart. A person who would never in a million years use any word if she thought it may hurt someone because she's better than that. I wish everyone were better than that. I actually had the show on in the background when she (Jennifer A) said that and I cringed when I heard it. I can't believe that she did it. I mentioned to J. after he got home that it had been bugging me all day. To be honest, I thought of you all day after that because I knew that if you'd seen it, you would have been just as hurt by it. I'm ready for people to just grow up already and think before they speak.

Jasmine said...

I agree with you, Michelle. I didn't find any of it funny.

I saw the clip and realized the R word came forth way too quickly which means it's on her tongue often.

God bless.

tekeal said...

i really agree with what you've said... thanks for writing this.

Anonymous said...

Right on Michelle..!!! I wish Jennifer could read your blog!!!! Thank you for your voice!!! Love Mom/ grandma

DownTownDan said...

I hope that even one person who is not directly connected to the disability community stumbles upon this post and takes your words to heart.

Anne and Whitney: Up, Down and All Around said...

Michelle - I think your post is very well written and what you have to say is very well said. I wonder if there would ever be a way to forward this post to jennifer anniston's publicist or to regis and kelly? just a thought. i actually have tears in my eyes as i write this because it is so hard to think of whitney, kayla or any of our children having their feelings hurt by this word- especially in a context like this!!!!!!

Rebecca Talley said...

Excellent post. I don't ever watch Regis nor do I ever watch Jennifer Aniston. I'm sure she didn't think anything about it, but isn't that the point? How would she feel if someone used that word to describe someone she loved?

Tina said...

I absolutely loathe that word. I won't watch the interview - just the thought makes my stomach turn.

I really liked Jennifer Aniston, too - very disappointing.

Christina said...

Bravo - very well said. This makes me really really sad and disgusted as well: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/alana-goodman/2010/07/09/family-guy-s-down-syndrome-girl-song-gets-emmy-nod

Omaha Mama said...

I get it. I do. So often people use that word and it's just not funny or okay. It makes me sad, this latest incident, because this is an actress I've always liked. It disappoints me that she would have to go there. Not funny, not one bit.

Sunny said...

So well said!

chelle said...

I totally agree with what you said and you said it well.
Even if she didn't mean it "that way" there are so many better words out there to express oneself, there is no excuse!

Ria said...

Well said Michelle! I think you should submit this to a newspaper.

Corey~living and loving said...

well written. I just don't even understand where she was going with that statement.

ChupieandJ'smama said...

She seems to step in it quite a bit lately. Very well put Michelle! It's disappointing that she used the word. "Think before you speak".

Cari said...

I have a son with DS, he just turned 13. I posted my fb status on Friday saying I was disappointed in JA for having used the 'r' word, most people were supportive. one person asked what the 'r' word was, after I responded she then said she didn't know what was wrong with it. I told her about my son and she understood. I knew she would because she had made posts about her 5 year old daughter who wears leg braces at night (although I think she wore them all the time at one point). She said she got it because she feels the same when someone makes a 'cripple' comment. I was also disappointed that Monday's trivia question was about her ~ how I wish I could have been the caller, I would have said "sorry, after Jen said the 'r' word, I turned the channel." thanks for this blog, Michelle, your words are well put.

Sarah said...

words are powerful, period. People need to think about how they use them, there's no excuse for not thinking about how we use words. Words have the power to hurt or uplift, tear down or heal, and to underestimate their power and meaning is to trivialize the way they hurt others. So sorry to anyone who was hurt by that word, I really hope Jennifer will think the next time she's tempted to use that word.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

Saying she plays dress up "like a r*tard" was drawing a negative comparison. Period. And her delivery of the statement itself was so casual that it was chilling, and callous. But worse, I think, is her defense of the original statement.

She didn't mean it that way? What other way could it have been meant? She wasn't making fun of those with intellectual disabilities -- she was only making fun of herself? By comparing herself to whom?

Of course she wasn't just "making fun of herself" when she compared herself to a group of people to whom she'd just assigned a pejorative label.

Why didn't she just apologize rather than add insult to injury?

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

Clarification of my earlier comment:

When I wrote "her defense of the original statement" it should have read "the defense of her original statement." I don't read anywhere that she personally defended it, but rather that others did.

Also? She may have issued an apology for all I know. I just haven't read anywhere that there has been one, and I did Google-look.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

Why leave one comment, when you can leave three?

I should have said thank you to you, Michelle, for weighing in and raising awareness. You're right. This is beyond any debate over whether we are too PC. We need to focus on the core issue that words themselves can cause damage.

XO

*Tasha* said...

This was PERFECT. I proceeded to copy and paste it into an email and shoot it off to several people who I think, who, dare I say it.... I BELIEVE, will see it from a different camp's point of view after reading this.

Your example of using a better phrase, such as "little kid" was fantastic because it really points out the flaw in reasoning that often sadly exists when people use that word and how insulting it is.

Thank you. This was marvelous. I'm not a mother. In fact, I'm only 21, but because of reading your blog and others' I have resolved to stop using that word and to correct others when they use it.

I tried to explain it today to somebody by saying, it's like if somebody said, "Yeah, that was SO deaf" or "God, I'm stupid, like a deaf person." (I was born deaf.) The person laughed at the thought and then became serious because the comparison is quite close and because people DON'T say "That was so deaf!" but people DO say "That was so retarded!" and BOTH are inappropriate and unkind perceptions.

Thank you for this lovely post and I hope you don't mind me sharing it.

doozee said...

well put!

Christy said...

Yes, yes, one thousand times, YES!!
Right now, other people just don't "get it". They don't know anyone with intellectual/developmental delays so they simply do not get it. It's up to us to teach them and you are doing just that.
I've written about this same thing several times on my blog - here's a link if you ever want to read it or reference it!
http://www.motherhood-unscripted.com/archives/2658

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right...I get so sick and tired of people using that word...let them walk in my child's shoes and then use that word....they wouldn't.

Thanks for sharing this.

KAMALI WILLIAMS said...

PRESIDENT OBAMA DID THE SAME THING DESCRIBING HIS ABILITIES FOR BOWLING... PEOPLE DON'T THINK TOO MUCH BEFORE OPENING THEIR MOUTHS AND THEY ARE ALWAYS GOING TO FIND PEOPLE THAT WILL SUPPORT THEM ON THEIR IGNORANCE!

starrlife said...

Good job there Michelle! I always thought that anyone over 12 that uses that word need to have a vocabulary upgrade! There are better words to describe than to use words that have a basis in disdain and hatred. It's juvenile but whoever said that Jennifer Aniston was mature?

Amy O. said...

I couldn't have said this better. I posted this on my facebook page. Thanks and kudos to you.

Marie said...

VERY well written. I hope you did send your comments to the editor of your local paper, the tv station, whoever will read!

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

I do take offense to r*tard. Just like I take offense to n*gger and cr*cker and all sorts of words that make you think of a group of people in a negative way. Saying someone was r*tarded didn't originally mean something bad. It just explained their mental capabilities. But over the years, the jokes and negative connotations piled up and it IS a bad word. Whether or not people realize it, it's no longer nice.

I'm confused about the context she used it in, too. What does that even mean? It means that Jennifer Aniston needs to make an apology and take a lesson on being a little more PC.

Bethany said...

Yeah! What she said!!!