The infomercial actress appeared on the tiny screen attached to the treadmill as I labored through a 40-minute jog. Wearing that annoying “you must purchase this product now because, you know, operators ARE standing by” grin, the woman gleefully hawked a line of T-shirts she claimed hid her “muffin top.”
My sweaty forefinger hit the “channel up” button immediately. A nature show of some sort appeared on screen. Sea otters cavorting on a rock somewhere in Alaska wasn’t exactly the imagery I needed to make my legs move faster, but it was better than listening to somebody graphically explain how to hide flab as a toll-free number scrawled just inches beneath the offending flesh.
I’ll admit it, I cringe when I hear “muffin top” used in any context other than the one describing a crunchy, easily removable top layer of baked treats. On her website, celebrity fitness trainer Jillian Michaels defines muffin top as “weight in the midsection that overhangs the pants and gives the body the appearance of a muffin.”
Wikipedia, which devotes an entire page to the phrase, is more direct: “…a slang term typically used to describe a man or woman’s skin or body fat that is visible above the waistline of pants or skirts because of tight clothing. The term is a reference to the way a muffin appears when it has been baked in a muffin tin, in which the top of a muffin is wider than its paper casing.”
For those who prefer imagery over the written word, Wikipedia was kind enough to include a rear-view photo of a woman strolling down a city street, oblivious to the fact that her alleged muffin top would soon be on display for all of cyberspace to ogle.
The human body, regrettably, is not the most attractive object. Given a choice between viewing naked flesh and say, a sunset, I’d opt for the latter; for sunsets never jiggle. If our anatomy were a construction project, it would incur the wrath of a hard-hatted foreman.
Hey, who left all these parts hanging here? And why haven’t these holes been filled?
Discussing the body’s private areas causes me embarrassment, although I’m sure I’m not alone. Does anybody REALLY enjoy saying the word “pubic”? Or “scrotum,” even though it sounds funny?
I asked my Facebook network to chime in with clinical body terminology they would like to see stricken from the English language, or at least from conversations outside a physician’s office.
“Breast buds” replied a father of three teen girls. “I HATE BUDS!”
“Who the hell says, ‘breast buds?'” retorted another.
Joining the conversation, a doctor wrote, “I’m a pediatrician. We use that term all the time.”
Then, out of either curiosity, or boredom, I asked my Facebook friends if they were offended by manufactured phrases — see muffin top — that describe the body’s flaws. The responses flowed fast and furious.
“Cottage cheese thighs,'” wrote a female friend. I concurred, for I’ve always enjoyed the dairy product as a healthy snack or side dish and do not wish to hear it compared to cellulite. That would be like referring to someone’s rear end as “hot fudge sundae butt.”
Moving down from the muffin top, past the cottage cheese thighs, assorted slang for a woman’s posterior region garnered numerous wrath, with “badonkadonk” and “junk in the trunk” vying for the weirdness title. Traveling southward still, several friends shared their disdain for “cankles,” referring to the portmanteau describing the unsightly merging of the calf and ankle on women. Speaking of merged words, “moobs,” short for man boobs, also made the list.
Scrolling through the responses, I now understand why plastic surgery is such a lucrative profession, for who wants their skin to be labeled “crepey,” or worse, suffer from “Samsonite face”?
“It refers to the bags under one’s eyes, aka suitcases,” one friend explained.
Finally, I could take it no more. I switched off the computer and vowed to increase my workout regimen, as that seems to be the only way to avoid these unflattering body descriptions. Tomorrow I will be running 50 minutes on the treadmill.
Or until I feel my cottage cheese thighs burning.