I had acne growing up, and I still have the scars to prove it. Acne is not just one pimple on your forehead at an inconvenient time, it’s pimples, all over, always. It feels like your skin is a prime-time sitcom couch and your acne is the cast of characters who never seem to get the hell off it. When one pimple exits the scene, another one arrives. Cue the laugh track.
Acne was the worst, but it also wasn’t. It didn’t kill me, didn’t prevent me from doing anything that I wanted to, didn’t stop me from feeling “hot” in that uniquely disillusioned way 16-year-olds can sometimes feel on a really good hormones day. I had my moments, of course, and frequently, it made me wildly self-conscious. It still does; I’ve written easier intro paragraphs. But I always felt that if the name were better — if it weren’t called “acne,” but something more…poetic? Fun? Sweet-sounding? Something cuddlier at least — I’d have an easier time co-existing with it.
When I was writing this year’s Summer So-What’s, I realized I felt the same way about my cellulite. Its existence doesn’t stop me from embracing an exhibitionist’s lifestyle in warm weather, but if it had a more charming name, I guarantee I’d be far more accommodating to its uninvited photo appearances.
Thus began the idea of a re-naming project, which led me to put a call out on Instagram stories for the so-called “flaws” that need moniker makeovers. Unsurprisingly (thanks a lot, society), the list of things we’re told are negatives is longer than an unmonitored neck hair, so think of the below as a start — a collection of the most-requested, plus their newly christened names.
If you were wondering, cellulite became “dapples” because a dapple gray is my favorite horse color.
Congratulations: you no longer have adult acne. You have constellations. A single pimple/zit/blackhead/whitehead is a “star.” Have fun using that in a sentence!
Saddle bags, love handles, bingo wings/arm flab, muffin tops — any anything that you pinch, grab or squeeze in a way that makes you get mad at yourself and think “there should be less of this” — will henceforth be known as “cozies.” Don’t you already feel snugglier?
Mustaches, sideburns, and any sort of facial hair that goes beyond the peach fuzz bracket shall now be called “angelhair.”
A FUPA is “fluff.” Double chins are “friendlies.” Wrinkles are “celebrations,” and because I think crow’s feet get bad raps mostly because crows are scary, I’ve re-named those specific wrinkles “Gold Steps,” after the footprints of a Golden Pheasant, which was named the number one most beautiful bird in the world.
Cankles are now “nobilities” — stand up in them and be proud. Under eye circles are literally nature’s way of contouring your face, and it’s up to you where you add the highlighter.
Jowels are “happies” because they smile when you do.
Armpit vaginas, which I always forget are a thing to worry about — thank god we have the internet! — shall be called “arm pleats,” with zero disrespect meant toward the vagina.
Instead of “thunder thighs,” “anthem thighs.” Write your set a sonnet now.
To call boobs and butts “saggy” is to miss their truth: they’re not saggy, they’re well-rested.
Skin tags are “trinkets.” Frizz, when you need a reminder to celebrate it, is now a “hair party,” and for the love of all “What is wrong with your feet?!” Nothing. The crooked bones formerly known as bunions would prefer to be called “bon-bons.”
Now, before you carry on with your day, a whole new list of names swirling around in your head, kindly note a few things regarding my humble suggestions:
1) Many of these don’t need special names at all. Can’t anything pinch-able, squeeze-able, creased or dimpled just be called “skin” and leave it at that? Did “armpit vagina” really ever need its own designated title? And who the hell decided “fupas” were something separate from the colloquial stomach?
2) These updates are only here for you if you want them. If you’ve long-ago embraced the word “cankles,” find the term “thunder thighs” to be powerful, or think the word “fupa” is actually pretty funny (I do) and don’t have a problem with it, no problem! Your language, your body.
But, if any of these things help you stand more naked in the mirror with even just a little bit more gumption than you had yesterday when you were still referring to your dapples as cellulite, then take them, pop them in your mouth like pink bubble gum and blow as big of an un-burstable bubble as you would like.
Use the comments below to update the names of so-called flaws you’d like to re-brand.
Graphic by Madeline Montoya.