Friday, July 25, 2008

More on Language

There are two phrases in our diet vernacular that I find particularly irksome. The first is, "She let herself go." She did? Where'd she go? How's the weather out there? The second has a more positive connotation and is typically reserved for post-diet or -pregnancy changes: "She got her body back." Wait, where was her body? Was there a ransom involved for its return? Any other common statements you can think of that are similarly provocative?

As I sat in a nail salon this morning pondering these phrases and why they seem to hit a nerve, a woman, obviously a regular, entered the salon. "Manicure or eyebrow wax?" an employee questioned. "Bikini," the woman responded. Already primed to think about our language and what it signifies, I began thinking about the concept of a bikini wax and why we call it that. If we're there to wax our legs, we don't call it the shorts/miniskirt wax. When we're there for our eyebrows, we don't ask for a sunglasses wax. Why must we misrepresent our genitalia, only referring to them as the parts of clothing we use as cover? What's so wrong with calling a spade a crotch? Anyone willing to ask for a pubic/labial wax?

I exited said nail salon, picked up my Iced Mocha and walked into my office building. An elevator companion noted, "Your drink smells good." "It's a mocha, I replied," to which he commented, "I hate to mention the amount of calories in that."


Anonymous said...

"It's a mocha, I replied," to which he commented, "I hate to mention the amount of calories in that."
I was disappointed not to see: "To which I replied, 'Who cares?'". I respond like that any chance I get.

As for the bikini wax, maybe if I were getting a Brazilian (which, as you probably know, means take it ALL off), I'd say a labia wax. But when I say "bikini" I mean that I want the hair removed that would show in my bikini, PERIOD. For me, this is a bit around the tops of my thighs. They can keep their wax off my labia.

Betwixt said...

You make me laugh! I am very new to blogging. Right now my blog has the serious tones of a health history form at the doctor's office. I hope to find the funny voice inside of me so that I may best reveal my crazy journey the way it aught be told. Thank you for your voice.

Anonymous said...

I always thought it was called a bikini wax because it's just waxing the bikini line. And saying bikini was instead of bikini line wax saves a syllable's worth of time.

iGirl said...

I guess "bikini" just sounds a lot more glamorous, as in, "Why yes, I'm going to go sit poolside in my alluring bathing suit for several weeks on a cruise ship..."

as opposed to, uh, "straggly pubes" as in, "I'm taking the kids to the public pool and don't want to frighten all the children with my bushy, overgrown thigh-hairs."

April D said...

Oh for those stray comments that always seem so innocuous...

"You've lost weight!" (To mean, hey I haven't seen you in a while but you look happy so it MUST be that you lost weight; nothing else could possibly bring joy into your life).

"Oh I'd love to eat [fill in the blank] but all those calories just go straight to my [fill in body part]" (As if your body has some sort of sorting device that pushes celery into your stomach for processing and baby flavored donuts take the express train to the fat deposits on your thighs)

As for a bikini wax I'm leery enough about having done my eyebrows. And that HURT. A lot. I can not IMAGINE tearing off hair near my delicate woman-bits! Yikes. But I do wonder why it isn't called like a "Thong" wax or a "High Cut Brief" wax. What is it about that magical bikini??

Twistie said...

Aurgh! Those phrases annoy the ever-loving-blue-eyed-bejeezus out of me! My body is my body no matter what shape it happens to be in at the moment. When I get over being ill, nobody tells me I've got my body back. About the only circumstance in which I can see it even making sense is if I've just had an out of body experience of some sort.

I'm guessing the reason people say 'bikini wax' is because a) admitting we have lady bits is indelicate and b) we don't go out in public in our thongs...unless we work in certain particular industries and own thongs, but most of us at some point in our lives own and publicly wear a bikini.

In some ways, 'getting a Brazillian' annoys me more. This particular grooming choice seems to me to have little to do with either a South American country or nuts (so to speak), and should just be called a pubic or labial wax. Even if it originated in Brazil, it still seems unconnected from the geographical or political or cultural matters that make Brazil unique...particularly now when the process is performed more or less everywhere women are concerned with 'excess' pubic hair.

azusmom said...

George Strait has a great song called "She Let Herself Go," about a woman whose husband leaves her because "she let herself go." So he sings of how she let herself Vegas, to Hawaii, on a cruise, to the beach, etc.

I once heard someone say, about a post-partum celeb, "She looks like she never even had a baby!" It was meant as a compliment, but it seemed, to me, like an insult.

Emily said...

As someone who's weight has fluctuated more than my fair share of times, I don't mind it when someone mentions my weight loss, it's when I hear "wow! you've lost a ton of weight!" that I cringe internally.

A ton? Really?

Sara said...

It's amazing the comments people feel at liberty to make. I have been in treatment for anorexia for a year and I'm finally healthy and doing a lot better. Just this week a woman I barely know comes up to me at work, actually puts her hand on my stomach and says "you look like you're getting a beer belly there". I looked at her blankly and she continued to say "Congratulations you're gaining weight!". These are social lines that should just not be crossed.

Glutton For Punishment said...

Haha, I love your insight on language. My other favorite is when people don't want to describe another as fat for fear of being un p/c, so they just say, "She's a little heavy, but she has such a pretty face." or "It's such a shame because she has such a pretty face." Why is it a shame? And we can't all have a pretty face! :-D Love your blog and have added it to my blogroll!

Kelly said...

"I hate to mention the amount of calories in that"? How presumptuous. Like you're unaware.

Although sometimes when I do have a treat as someone who is losing weight and is still overweight I feel like I should justify myself to people and explain that I really do know how many calories are in this and I've figured it into my day. But that's my own problem.

luv said...

"It's a mocha, I replied," to which he commented, "I hate to mention the amount of calories in that."

I love responding to idiots like this.

Let's see... I could say...

"Mmmmmm.... delicious calories!"

"Hah! You! Are! Jealous!" :-D

"Oh ya poor thing... you torment yourself with calorie counting and fat-free food? Don't you know life is too short for all that?"

Every now and then I get a wild craving for chocolate and end up heading to the nearest Walgreens and buying myself a nice assortment.

Usually, people don't comment to me... they used to... but I think I hold myself to confidently for that stuff anymore - most of the time anyway.

I now get the cashier laughing with me about how lovely chocolate is and how lovely it is to eat it when you get one of those cravings for it.

If people want to comment to me, it's just a big eye-roll for me. I eat healthily over-all. I exercise. I LIVE a good, diverse, active life. If people wanna make a snap judgement about me, cuz I have two fist full of chocolate that's their own stupidity. Can't a girl have a lil chocolate stash around the house?

drstaceyny said...

betwitx--welcome, and thanks for reading!

hp--is everyone out there wearing a bikini. . . all the time?



twistie--good points. Lotta women must be having out-of-body experiences. . .

am--ppl definitely stay things like that as a compliment. So, the George Strait lady's ok, huh?

emily--understandable. Ever say what you wrote?

sara--she touched you? Was she trying to be funny? Does she know you're in tx?

gfp--gbod one. Thanks!

kelly--I can see how you'd want to do this, but hello, everyone, it's posted in Starbucks now! I USED to not know how many calories were in it.

luv/anon--good answers! I actually responded with, "Are you concerned that I might gain weight?" to which he said, "Yes, both of us." Such a nice man he was to be concerned about me--he doesn't even know me! ; )

HappySmiles said...

What a rude guy! I can't imagine commenting on the calories in a random stranger's drink. People are so rude.

I hate hearing "she let herself go" too. Like a woman's only role in life is to look 100% perfect (whatever that even means) for some man all the time.