Why Do We Call People Ninjas?

Why Do We Call People Ninjas?

I mean people who are not of a specific group of Japanese spies, of course.

Recently my parents texted me that they had seen a carpet cleaning company’s truck that described itself as “the carpet ninja.”

It reminded them of how a facilitator in one of my orientation sessions here at Disney World referred to Custodial Cast Members as “park ninjas.” Them bringing it up to me reminded me of other times I have heard the word “ninja” used in obviously non-ninja contexts, such as “tech ninja” for stage crew members.

Obviously no one is trying to say that the carpet cleaner, custodial cast, or stage crew is a Japanese spy. (Yes, I said spy, not assassin – it took a very brief amount of Googling to learn that the “ninja-assassin” is a mostly-Western media trope, while actual ninjas were spies, gathering information more often than killing people.) So what’s up with the use of the term “ninja”?

When I first heard the term “tech ninja,” in reference to stage crew, the implication was that it was because we wore all black and our job was to get things done without being noticed by the audience. Interestingly, this ties in pretty well with historical theatrical portrayals of ninjas. Real ninjas usually did not wear black – it is not a practical outfit for daytime sneakiness, and if you really want to go unseen at night, dark blue is a better choice anyway. But in Edo-period Japanese theatre, sometimes actors sought to portray a ninja so competent that he was invisible to all the other characters. To show that a character was invisible, they dressed him like the other people that the audience was accustomed to treating as if they were invisible: the black-clad stagehands.

But not all slang-ninjas wear black and are intended to go unseen. My Custodial costume is white, and the “carpet ninja” clearly wants to be noticed. So why do people use the word “ninja” in these contexts?

I think it has to do with Western media portrayals of ninjas, beyond the black-clad warrior part of the portrayal. The ninja trope, as depicted in James Bond movies and the like, ascribes a certain amount of nigh-magical competence to the ninja. They are not just a warrior, they are an incredible, unstoppable warrior. They are fast, tantamount to invisible when they want to be, and they can go anywhere and not be held against their will. They are also very knowledgeable, competent and wise. Perhaps we use the term “ninja” to ascribe that kind of competence to other people. My orientation facilitator used the term “park ninja” while talking about how the Custodial Cast Member can go anywhere in the parks and give Guests all kinds of information. And the self-described “carpet ninja” is probably trying to make prospective customers perceive them as competent and quick-working.

It feels wrong to misuse the term, though. Ninja does not mean the Western media portrayal; it is a Japanese pronunciation of a Chinese word for “one who endures.” They were, and are, real people. I am not one of them, and neither, presumably, are the carpet cleaners.

What if we called them “carpet wizards” instead?

It would preserve the association with magic-level competence while discontinuing the propagation of inaccurate media portrayals.

Cover Image Credit: Tim Gough

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.


To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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The Football World Loses One Of Its Finest Players

Bart Starr passed away and NFL players, coaches, and fans all mourn the loss of the Packer legend, but his life and career will live on in hearts of Packer nation forever.


Bart Starr passed away at the age of 85 in Birmingham, Alabama. The NFL lost a great player. The Green Bay Packers lost a hero. And, the world lost a true gentleman. Starr's legacy has surpassed his accomplishments on the gridiron. He inspired not only his peers but the generations that have come after him. He is — and always — will be remembered as a Hall of Famer, a champion, and a Packer.

Bart Starr was a Packers legend. Starr led Green Bay to six division titles and five world championships. As the quarterback of Vince Lombardi's offense, he kept the machine going and executed the plays like no other. His mastery of the position was a large part of the Packers success in the 1960s. Starr was also the perfect teammate for the perfect team. His leadership put him in command of the Packers. Starr's time in Green Bay will not be forgotten by former players, coaches, and the fans.

Bart Starr's resume is rivaled by few in NFL history. He played in 10 postseason games and won 9 of them. He led the Packers to victory in Super Bowls I and II and won the MVP award in both games. He was the MVP of the league in 1966 and was named to the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1960s. The Packers retired his number 15 and Starr has been inducted into the Packers and Pro Football Hall of Fame.

After his playing days, Starr would become the head coach of the Packers. He could not repeat the success he had on the field from the 1960s teams. His coaching years do not take away from his legacy as one of the all-time great Packers. Starr was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.

One of Starr's last visits to Lambeau field was on a cold November night in 2015. Starr and his wife attended a ceremony in which the Packers retired Brett Favre's jersey number. Starr was the perfect personification of what it meant to be a Packer. His most heroic moment came in the 1967 NFL Championship Game. The Ice Bowl came down to a third and goal in Lambeau Field's south endzone against the Dallas Cowboys. Starr came to the sidelines and bravely told Vince Lombardi that he can sneak it in for a game-winning touchdown. Lombardi then replied, "Run it, and let's get the hell out of here." Starr ran a quarterback sneak for the game-winner and the Packers were off to Super Bowl II. Without Starr, Green Bay would not have won a second straight Super Bowl. His leadership in big game moments will live with Packers fans for a lifetime.

Vince Lombardi: A Football Life - The Ice Bowl

Starr leaves behind his wife Cherry, his son, and three granddaughters. Packers fans will have a tight grip on the memories Bart Starr and the 60s teams created. Starr left behind a template for being a Green Bay Packer. He also left a template for being a good man and a gentleman of the game of football. He was a competitor and a leader. Packer nation mourns for the loss of one of the finest human beings the game has seen.

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