Some words slip into the public radar seemingly without reason and it can be hard to find the origin and correct meaning of the word. Another occurrence is that words that once held particular meanings return to mainstream vocabulary in an entirely different context. In this way, everyone has to stay up to date on what the words they’re using might be understood to mean, as well as how they can be used.
One such word that was once on mainstream media’s radar but then slipped largely out of use for a while before returning to usage again is the term PAWG.
The term PAWG is an acronym for four words beginning with the letters ‘P,’ ‘A,’ ‘W,’ and ‘G’ that join to make a word expressing the meaning behind the combination of the letters. As such, there can be considered multiple meanings of the term PAWG depending on what people believe the four letters stand for and what they then use the word to mean.
Most commonly, PAWG is used to abbreviate the phrase “phat a** white girl,” so it refers to a light skinned woman with a curvy backside.
It is not entirely known where the use of PAWG first originated, but it’s widely believed that it may have developed through rap music in the early 2000s. However, it may also have been first utilized by the adult film industry, as somewhere along the line this term and its main definition became assimilated into this industry as a way to draw attention to women of a certain body shape.
There was a span of time where the term wasn’t recorded in usage online until it returned to social media in the early 2010s as a way to bring attention to images depicting a “PAWG body shape.”
Because PAWG was used to bring attention to specific female bodies, the term is tied up with racist and sexist assumptions and cannot be used without consideration of this connection. If you are considering using the word PAWG, you should first examine the problematic stereotypes and damaging meaning behind it. Let’s look at this in greater depth.
Before using any unfamiliar word or phrase, especially one you sense is a slang word, it’s wise to double check the meaning and background so you never accidentally offend someone. When it comes to the term PAWG, it actually is considered to be quite disrespectful and offensive.
While not everyone who uses this term and others like it probably understands the deep layers of meaning behind what they’re saying, their usage can still be incredibly problematic. A big issue with the word PAWG is the way it sexualizes women’s bodies. Women have long struggled with being viewed in a demeaning and sexist light; when emphasis is placed on their bodies as equating any aspect of their worth—as it often is—women are disrespected. Unfortunately, this is common in society, aided by the fact that casual words like PAWG are used to continue the cycle of reducing women to their appearances.
Another problematic aspect you need to understand about the word PAWG is that through specifying the skin color of the woman in reference, biases are being promoted regarding what types of women generally hold certain body shapes. The term is not just offensive to light skinned women but to all women. Its racial objectification is a reason alone to avoid this term.
While the above definition of PAWG seems to be the most common in mainstream media, there are other potential meanings that people may use PAWG in association with. These include:
Photonic Arbitrary Waveform Generator (P-AWG)
Protected Areas Working Group
Pennsylvania Wing Civil Air Patrol
Project Interface Control Agreement (PICA) Assignment Working Group
All words, including terms like PAWG, become part of a society’s collective vocabulary through their popular usage. As soon as a word is repeated, it becomes understood and then spread to be used by many. Terms like PAWG are often introduced through some form of popular media, such as through music or video and images (as PAWG may have been).
It is very important to be knowledgeable about terms, words, and phrases that are used by others in society because without knowing the meaning of a word, one might accidentally use it in an offensive way. This is particularly true for terms like PAWG that may be used in informal settings but when actually closely examined are considered to be offensive and demeaning. Always check what an unfamiliar word means, as well as its connotations, before using it in order to be respectful of those around you. And if the definition is not one you would want to use in polite conversation, perhaps consider if it is worth saying at all!