Oh Tim Gunn. I normally think you are the bee’s knees, all suave and proper with just the right amount of bite, but you need to excise the word “cankles” from your vocabulary immediately.
And that you used the word in reference to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and that you did so while critiquing her clothing…well, I could go on and on for hours about how completely ridiculous it is that one of the most powerful women in the world is being criticized not for policy statements or positions, but for her choice of pantsuits and her legs. Yes, Tim Gunn, I know you are a fashionisto and critiquing clothing choices is what you do, but come the fuck on.
Other people have waxed more furiously about this than I, so I’ll move on beyond the outrageousness of the statements so I can talk about one of my pet peeves, which is all of the cutesy-poo terminology used to refer to women’s body parts that are perceived as flawed and ugly.
I still remember the first time I heard someone use the word “cankles,” back in the late 1990s, when this lady I worked was talking shit about a coworker, saying she had “cankles.” My coworker was a Malden girl to her core – gold jewelry, tracksuits, flawless makeup, Betty Boop tattoo, if you’ve lived in Massachusetts you know what I’m talking about – and I can still remember the way she said, “caaankles.” The word was so ugly and said with such great personal offense, like how dare Shit-Talked Coworker have ankles that are not discernable from her calves!
Now it seems like these words are ubiquitous, showing up in women’s magazines and on those wretched fashion-critique shows on E!, as if we have all turned into a nation of bratty 12-year-old boys. Wobbly underarms are batwings, fat that overhangs waistbands are now muffin tops and, my least favorite, FUPA…well, let’s not talk about what that stands for.
This terminology exists for one reason, and that’s to shame women into compliance with bullshit body standards. The phrases themselves may be silly little metaphors, but the intent behind them is nothing short of cruel. I’ve had it with these terms, and I hope others feel the same.
Wow, I was thinking about writing about this exact thing last week–about all the horrible names we have for bodily features deemed unattractive. I particularly despise *cankles* as well, maybe because I have them. (I was just typing that word on my phone and it didn’t recognize it. Hell yeah, phone!)
I think there are also terms like these for men, and for anyone who doesn’t fit the anglo-saxon idea embraced by the mainstream. Unibrows, moobs, neck-beards, and I’m having trouble thinking of more right now. Though I do believe women are subjected to far more physical scrutiny than men.
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