Sephora and Kat Von D: #DontBuyCelebutardPosted: November 5, 2013
What is so wrong with the word “retard”? Celebutard? Is it really “just a f*ckin’ lipstick,” as Kat Von D says of her own product? Well, nothing is wrong with those words, except… everything. It is like waving a banner around. A dirty, bigoted, cruel banner to announce that you have no respect for other people.
Look. It isn’t about the letters strung together in that particular order, pronounced in that particular way. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with a word that originally meant “to slow”. It is the message. Language has meaning, context, influence. “Retard” has an original clinical meaning, sure, but is that how it is actually used in everyday language? Nope. It is used to compare something or someone to the image of disability to mock, denigrate, and insult. Because, of course, being “mentally retarded” means you’re just stupid, and that is the worst thing ever, right? (Yes, you’re correctly reading some sarcasm there.)
Let me make an explanatory confession. When we started suspecting that our son might have Down syndrome, I remember feeling guilty. What kind of mother would think her own son has Down syndrome? During one of our moments of doubt, when we thought we might have been imagining it all, I thought, what if he doesn’t have Down syndrome? What if he ever finds out what we suspected? Ha. Ha. Yes, wouldn’t that be funny? No one wants to be like that do they? Soooo funny.
The word, and all the pieces of that word, are symbols for what I experienced in that moment with my son. It was an ugly realization, when I finally understood how NOT funny that moment really was. Not funny because for that moment that word flitted across my mind… retarded. I didn’t want to think that he was an actual “retard”, because that would actually suck. I might have never uttered the words, but I sure as hell thought it.
Using the words, or slang variants like “celebutard”, is like waving a banner for that kind of awful thinking in which I’d engaged. It is an unmistakable, ugly banner that reads, “You are less worthy.” It is like racism. Erasing a racial slur doesn’t get rid of racism, but choosing certain words is a clear sign of it. No one argues that it is ok to use racial slurs, then why is it ok to use slurs towards people with disabilities?
You see, people with disabilities are not around to be mascots for everything that is considered dysfunctional, unintelligent, or broken.
You, person out there, who is reading this, thinking, this woman needs to grow up and get a thicker skin, what’s your name? Jennifer*? Do you want to try being that mascot? What if the world figured you were so unintelligent, or so disgustingly and tragically broken, that your name became synonymous with all things “stupid?” What if children used your name to mock their classmates who didn’t learn in the same way, or called your name when imitating what it looks like to stutter, or have cerebral palsy? What if parts of your name became an insulting banner word? Jennidouche. Celebejenn. People would hear these names and burst out in laughter, because no one wanted to be like you, ha ha ha. Does flying that banner feel right to you? Would it feel good to defend that banner?
Sephora and Kat Von D: As long as you keep selling that lipstick, you’ll be flying that banner as well. Neither of you can claim the ignorance card; you’ve been on social media digging in your heels for days. I see that banner and get the message loud and clear. You don’t give a crap about respecting other people.
I, for one, think that your banner is ugly and bigoted. I suggest you take it down and do some soul-searching. I did, and it worked out just fine.
SIGN THE PETITION. Tell Sephora to stop selling this product and issue an apology.
* Apologies to all the Jennifers out there it was a totally random draw and it is a common name. xo
UPDATE: Sephora has agreed to remove the lipstick from their stores and website. This is awesome sauce. Power in numbers, y’all…