Sunday, October 16, 2005

Things that Go Bump

dorky "baby bump" t-shirt from dweedle tees

I hate headlines like "celebrity bump watch" and "katie's bump." The first one makes sport out of gestation and the second one is icky.

I've already talked about the spectacle of the celebrity pregnancy, and I've also already revealed me feelings about calling butts and breasts "humps" and "lumps." Perhaps, like "lump," it's the negative connotations of the word "bump" that make it's use to describe a pregnant woman's belly so annoying. But it also seems akin to touching a pregnant woman's belly while waiting in line at the grocery store.

First of all, this article, "The Perfect Little Bump" is, in a word, horrifying. Second, this on-line quiz called "bump or plump?" where one is asked to look at pictures of women and determine whether or not they are pregnant, is gross. And then this article illustrates the now common practice of scrutinizing celebs' bulging stomachs in order to determine the baby's due date (this more contemporary practice is perhaps related to bumpology, an alternate term for phrenology). Perhaps, like a phrenology head, we'll soon be able to purchase porcelain bellies. Maybe one will come with our next issue of US.

Anyway, it seems the word "bump" has come into practice as a way to accommodate the increasingly discussed topic of celebrity pregnancy. I mean, the word "pregnant" just doesn't look as cute and adorable in tabloid headlines.

Now I'll admit that I have a complicated relationship with euphemisms. Sometimes I like them; I'll call a cooking disaster an "experiment," getting lost "a creative exercise in orienteering," and my tendency toward clutter as"a way of keeping things cozy." But I'm generally skeptical of euphemism. Especially when phrases like "war on terror" and "friendly fire" and "collateral damage" are the flotsum and jetsam of the mainstream media. And the tendency toward euphemism has always had a questionable place in the way women's bodies and their various functions are described. And the latest trend of calling that swelling of the belly caused by pregnancy a "bump" basically makes me want to puke.

t-shirt from

According to the OED, the etymology of "bump" is "Onomatop{oe}ic: the v. and n. of action being probably coeval." The majority of Urban Dictionary of Slang's listings for the word "bump," refer to drug use.

1 comment:

elizalou said...

Puke is so the right word to use in your reaction to the word "bump". While reading your post I had couldn't help but gag a little (no offense to you, of course!). There's just something so. . . gross about using the word bump. Can't quite put my finger on it, but it definitely makes me want to puke.