I was browsing Facebook this morning, as I do every morning, and came across the term “buffalo hump.” It’s a term I haven’t seen before and so I looked it up. I’ll leave it to you to look up the term, but apparently, it’s the latest focus of plastic surgeons’ scalpels. Then that got me to thinking… what other derogatory names do we have for the body? After browsing the internet for just a few minutes, and I literally mean less than 5, here is some of the body slang I came across.
- Love Handles
- Buffalo Hump
- Muffin Top
- Bingo Wings
- Bikini Bridge
- Thigh Gap
- Double Chin
- Pot Belly
- Beer Belly
- Bat Wings
- Middle Age Spread
- Junk in the trunk
- Bubble Butt
- Schnoz (amazingly enough this one is in my browser’s spell check!)
- Pie Hole
- Thunder Thighs
What do these all have in common? They all call out some sort of “imperfection” of the human body. And while I realize that we also have non-derogatory terms for the body such as noggin, peepers, grey matter, washboard abs etc., what they all have in common is that they all objectify the body. They all treat the body as something abstract, a thing. They strip ownership, giving permission to others to change it, make it a tool.
When we allow our bodies to be objectified in any way, good or bad, it leads to scary things like an entire industry focused on changing the physical appearance of people for profit:
What’s even scarier is that it’s not just an industry, it’s our lives, it’s how we define ourselves from a very young age. It ends up becoming the way we make major life decisions, how we see and treat ourselves and others. It’s HUGE. It permeates everything in our society, even things we think that it doesn’t.
It affects how we:
- Brush our teeth
- Pose for photos (or even take them at all!)
- Choose our partners
- Pick our hobbies
- Buy our clothes
- Shop at the drugstore
- Watch the news (ever watch a female news caster without thinking something about her body or clothes?)
Seriously, this list could go on forever.
If we want to take control of this situation and turn it around, we need to be very careful of how we refer to our bodies. Any term, whether we think it’s good or bad, that objectifies the body… objectifies the body, period. While I don’t think we’ll eradicate these types of phrases any time soon, if at all, I think we can bring awareness to the problem and try to be conscious about what is happening when we use them.
Photo by Quinn Dombrowski is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
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