Last night, Kim Kardashian West posted a bunch of Instagram stories of people at a Halloween party attempting to guess who she was dressed up as. Lots of attendees were, "too f--king young" to identify her as Pamela Anderson, she said. Kim posted a video talking to her former assistant and longtime friend, Stephanie Shepherd, saying, "Nobody knows who I am... retarded!"
As you can expect, several of Kim's 120 million Instagram followers who viewed the story have taken to Twitter to call her out for using the offensive and outdated word. "Smh maybe you should spend time with people with disabilities that way you can show more empathy towards those that are special needs," one person on Twitter wrote. Others said she was canceled and questioned why it was okay that a celebrity with such a huge following use disrespectful rhetoric.
This is absolutely not the first time the Kardashians have been criticized for using harmful language, and it's actually not the only time the r-word has come up. In July, Khloé Kardashian and Kourtney received backlash for calling each other "retarded" as an insult. Khloé eventually apologized on Twitter saying, "Ugh I hate that word! Why did I even say that? You are a million percent right and I actually greatly dislike when people use that word! I will do better! I am sorry!" And Kim recently got flak for complimenting one of her sisters for "looking anorexic," and later apologized for offending anyone, and blamed it on getting "carried away" with her sisters.
Clearly, the Kardashians might need a lesson in semantics, because whether or not you view them as role models, their words matter and influence what we deem acceptable. For some context, the term "mental retardation" was originally used clinically to describe a person with delayed or stalled mental development, or significant intellectual impairment. Somewhere along the way, "retard" became a popular slang word that people used as a synonym for "stupid" or "dumb." This is offensive because it reinforces the stereotype that people with disabilities are less-valued members of society. Of course, this is not the case at all, whatsoever, and it's extremely damaging to perpetuate this stigma.
Around 2013, it was agreed that the term "intellectual disability" would replace "mental retardation," because of the negative connotation and offensive nature of "retardation." But here we are in 2018, and Kim was using the word "retarded" to describe people she viewed as stupid. Perhaps the past has taught Kim that her audience and followers will hold her accountable, and she may apologize.
But in the future if you happen to overhear someone using the r-word in a demeaning context like Kim, it's worth it to remind them of the weight it carries — and it's also a pretty good sign that they're probably not worth listening to anyways.