Jennifer Aniston has come under fire for using the word "retard" during an interview.
On Live with Regis and Kelly Thursday, the Switch star, 41, was discussing dressing up as Barbra Streisand for the September issue of Harper's Bazaar when she let the word slip.
"You're playing dress up!" Regis told her. She replied, "Yes, I play dress up! I do it for a living, like a retard!"
Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc (a nonprofit advocate for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities), tells UsMagazine.com it was "extraordinarily offensive and inappropriate."
"Frankly, someone in her position ought to know better," he tells Us. "She is using language that is offensive to a large segment of the population in this country. We estimate that there are probably in excess of 5 million people in the country with intellectual disabilities, and when you think about all of them, their family members and friends, you're talking about tens of millions of people who find the use of that term to be really offensive. Every time folks hear that word, it kind of reminds them of all the discrimination and oppression they've experienced in their lives. Even if it wasn't intended to insult them, that is the effect of it."
Other celebs have been scolded for using the "R word," including Howard Stern and Lindsay Lohan.
"Sadly, people use the word pervasively even if they don't realize it," Kirsten Seckler, spokeswoman for the Special Olympics, tells Us. "People with intellectual disabilities have fought their whole lives for understanding and recognition. When people continue to use the R word, it's hurtful."
Stars may want to use the word "ridiculous" instead, she says. "Think before you speak," Seckler advises, "especially when you're making fun of yourself or others."
Adds Seckler, "We have a very passionate group of people advocating for change in their communities and schools to change the use of this word."
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