Cruel childhood nicknames and their effects

Despite the myth of childhood being a time of utter goodness, kids can be cruel. One of the ways this cruelty expressed itself in my childhood neighborhood is in assigning cruel nicknames. I got called “Cow” during much of my elementary school years, putatively because it sounded similar to my real first name but more likely because I was heavy and unathletic. As a result, my real name always sounds ugly to me, and as soon as I turned 18 I moved to a nickname I myself chose.

This experience made me sensitive to the effects of names, both in real life and in my fiction. I can never get a feeling for a character until I settle on a name–the real name at the very least, and often any nickname used by the characters friends & enemies. In my novel-in-progess, for instance, one of the protagonists, Hannah, is called “lil sis” by her best friend and “baby girl” by the best friend’s older sister; but the neighborhood boys call her “Handy May” or “Sucky Buckey.” Even though I intend it to be an act of cruelty, my own experiences make it hard for me to call her that myself (fortunately, the wonders of search & replace mean I don’t have to type it all the time.)

What about the rest of you dopers? What nicknames were you saddled with, good & bad, as a child/teen? Do you still react to them now?

I didn’t need nicknames. My real name was weird enough for people to make fun of it. :rolleyes: Just because it was so damn different from the traditional names everyone else had.

I still hate my baby name - which is the one I went by - to the point where I don’t use it. My family, however, insists on using it and can’t understand why I don’t like it.

I feel for Shiloh Pitt.

Oh, yeah. When I was about 12, I was tagged “Dog” by a mean kid, and the rest of them stuck with it. It really hurt my self-esteem. I was convinced that I was ugly for a long time.

About a decade later, when I talked to my brother about it, it actually made him cry. He’d had no idea.

I am still very sensitive about teasing and nicknames, 30 years later.


nicknames hurt when they are meant to be hurtful - I had to wear an over-the-head headgear with my braces when I was 10 - 11. Oh, did I mention that my parents made me take my showers at night, then I would put on the headgear and sleep in it with my wet hair? When I woke up, my hair had dried with flattened parts where the headgear was, and raised-up bits in between, which looked kinda like, well, ears. So I was Panda or Panda-Punk for years. Fun times.

While the memory stings, though, I did get past it. Just like all the abuse I got back then - the glasses, the corrective shoes, the acne, the constant hayfever runny nose and sneezing (man, was I a package, or what?). But I cleaned up in college and mostly after college, found success personally and professionally and chose to think of myself differently. I chose to not let stuff like that push my buttons anymore and now it is a distant memory. Not particularly pleasant, but such is life…

Brad and Angelina’s daughter. She goes by Sh’Pitt to her friends…amongst other variations.

One group of kids liked to call me “dick lips” because of my very full lips.

Now that I’m older, the nickname is gone, and women compliment me on my lips. :cool:

My sister, assuming that I knew she was kidding, called me Ug for years. Her high school boyfriend (who became her husband) called me Ug as well. She had NO IDEA how hurtful it was. I really believed I was ugly, because the person I loved most in the world chose that as my nickname. I only recently told her it bothered me, and she was shocked. She thought that I knew that she thought I was beautiful. I didn’t. And in my 20s, I used my “newfound” prettiness to be sorta ugly (on the inside). Good thing I grew out of THAT. And now, having gained a considerable amount of weight, I see Ug every time I look in the mirror.

My sister went to school with a kid called “Fatty the Jew”. I mean, his friends called him that, my sister didn’t, as she didn’t really know him. The guy actually was heavy-set (based on his yearbook picture) and Jewish, but I don’t know if the origin of the nickname was malicious or not.

The thing is, when he was filling out his yearbook entry, under “Nickname” he put down “Fatty the Jew”. The staff wasn’t having it though. They sanitized it, changed it to “Blank the Blank” or something, and I can see why, but how funny would that have been? Offensive, sure, but undeniably funny.

I got slapped with ‘bucky miller’.

Luckily, the parents didn’t let me attend the local Junior High with the crappy reputation, so I had a chace to start over.

It made all the difference in the world when, 20 years later, I’m walking through the line at Costco with my beautiful tall blond wife to find one of the girls that tormented me working register. She was NOT aging gracefully.


That’s hilarious.

I don’t remember any particular nicknames I suffered, although some kids found plenty of other ways to be mean to me.

Does this mean I should stop calling my daughter BoogerSnot?

They used to call me Skald the Rhymer.

That’s funny, because young people call each other dog all the time now (as a general way to end every other sentence much like “man” as in “last night I was soooo wasted man”). More often spelled “dawg”, but said the same way.

Nicknames can have a double-edged effect. As some of you have expressed, they can be hurtful and cause much damage to one’s self esteem.

But on the other hand, it can also be a positive, because it is only kids who make a blip on the kiddy social-radar who get nicked.

Spare a thought for those poor youngsters who are deemed too insignificant to even warrant a nickname.

The “four eyes” thing didn’t last long, and the “wide load” was used by my friends (yes! really!) so that was harmless (certainly was prophetic, though! ;)) Mainly, however, I was called “the walking encyclopedia”. Heck of a mouthful, but damn cool. Can’t say it hurt my feelings … :smiley:

Since I wear hearing aids, I was a prime candidate for teasing in grade school. The one I remember most was ‘battery ears’ It stung back then, but I think it’s pretty funny now.
I used to tell them I could get radio stations through my aids. Then I’d start dancing…and they’d believe me. Suckers!

Bucky Beaver here. Remember Ipana toothpaste?

My husband was called Ears in grade school. He didn’t have big ears, but they stuck out a little more than most. He was so sensitive about it, that he developed a nervous habbit of smoothing his ears down. By the time he got to High School, they didn’t stick out. He thinks it’s because he kept smoothing them down, I think he just grew into them.

I don’t know why nobody ever poked fun at his tiny head. I call him Dinky Head all the time. :smiley: