Blame fashion for the latest dictionary addition

hipsterTen years after making their way into mainstream American fashion, primarily by riding on Brittany Spears’s bottom, low-rise jeans have made their mark on the Oxford English Dictionary.

Last week, the dictionary inaugurated the word, “muffin top,” into its pages, along with “OMG,” the text message abbreviation for “Oh my god” and “LOL,” which stands for “laugh out loud.”

And we all know what’s responsble for this development: the unintended consequences of a fashion trend. You can credit or blame British designer Alexander McQueen who revived a 1960s trend with the “bumster,” a low-rise jean cut just above the public bone, or can hold the American obesity epidemic responsible for the addition of “muffin top” in our every-day vocabulary. Either way, the complications of low-rise jeans solidified “muffin top” in the English language.

Low-rise jeans, also known as ” hip-huggers”, “hipsters” and “lowriders”, first surfaced in the 1960s. Embraced by men and women alike, the jean was usually paired with a lively print or color that defined the era.

The style made a comeback in the mid-1990s when McQueen introduced his “bumster” version, which daringly revealed the cleft of the buttocks, according to London’s Design Museum website.

Brittany Spears made the style popular in the United States around 2001. By then, Americans’ waistlines were decidedly puffier than in the 1960s, and the term, “muffin top,” was coined to describe excess flesh hanging over the low-slung waistbands, according to a 2010 article on the BBC website.

You don’t have to have a muffin top in order to object to low-rise jeans. I have a few friends who swear off of them. Personally, they only bother me when the hem of my blouse isn’t long enough to meet the waistband of the jeans, and I have to change. I know ya’ll have been there.

My friend, Erin, a tall, slim brunette with no body image issues to speak of, vents regularly about her jean-shopping frustrations. In addition to the notorious muffin top, low-rise jeans offer a host of other disadvantages, such as revealing your underwear. It doesn’t seem to matter how little fabric the underwear consist of; they still seem to show if you don’t have a top that’s long enough to cover the top of the jeans. Erin vehemently objects to this. But what really upsets her is that the short crotch combined with tightness in low-rise jeans often show the shape of a woman’s genitalia, sometimes described in popular culture as a “cameltoe”.

“They made these jeans for girls, not women,” she says.

Erin has turned to men’s Levi jeans as an edgy alternative. While she deems low-rise jeans as too revealing, she thinks many of the jeans with higher waistlines look dowdy.

Ironically, the days seem to be numbered for this object of Erin’s ire. Just as “muffin top” graduated into the dictionary, low-rise jeans seem to be waning in popularity.

If Erin has her way, “muffin top” (and its cause, the hipster) will become antiquated in less time than it took to land itself in the dictionary.

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    Paris Achen

    Paris Achen writes stories about fashion and education with the motto that a frugal fashionista must be a well-educated one. Her blog weaves together commentary on fashion, beauty and fun, frugal tips on how to net the looks on the catwalk. You ... Read Full
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