HI. My name is Erin, and I have huge hands.
HUGE. And I’m not just saying that. I’m not being particularly hard on myself, I’m being quite literal. Most people agree with me.
I call them “man hands.” My sister-in-law calls them “shman hands.” In high school, my friends called them clubs. Or catchers’ mitts. Bear paws, man mitts, huge grips, lobster claws. Fists of steel. I have been called “Mitsy,” “Handsy,” “Shmanny,” “Slappy,” and “Gripsy.”
Almost all of these names are legitimate.
Yep. You’re seeing that right. I’m a girl, I’m 5’6″ tall, and I have a 9.125 inch hand span.
Told you. My hands are huge.
With one hand, I can palm a regulation size men’s basketball. I can carry five tennis balls in my hand, all against my skin. I can hogtie my kids with the fingers on just one hand, grab both their ankles and wrists inside my grip, and lift them off the floor. (One at a time, of course, but they’re nine, seven, and six. They’re getting so big!) I wear a men’s size large glove. (Try finding cute driving gloves in that size. Good luck.) I wear a size 11 ring on my thumb, a size 10 in the middle, and a 7.5 on my ring finger.
So far, The Body Image Project has been an exploration of our scary parts. It’s been an attempt to dig into the parts of our bodies where we hide our shame and fear. I’ve worked through skin and belly, face and feet, waist and butt. Some of those places are scarier than others, over the course of my life some have taken more ridicule than the rest.
None of those have taken as much ridicule as my hands.
Want to know what’s amazing about that?
I have never had a problem with them.
In fact, despite the ribbing and teasing and pronounced size of my hands, they are one of my favorite parts of my body.
For a while, I thought “WTF is that about. That makes no sense.” I’m an introvert overthinker at my very core, and understanding WHY I feel how I do is important. ….like, I can’t NOT figure that out. Have to. That’s the stuff that keeps me up at night and chews on my brain like gum.
I couldn’t figure out “why of all the things does this not bother me, I’ve been teased incessantly,” but then something occurred to me. I figured it out, and I think you’ll agree when you read it.
If “eyes are the windows to the soul,” hands are the litmus test of character.
Think about it.
From what I can tell, a person’s hands are the most telling thing about them. If a person works behind a desk pushing paper and typing, their hands look a certain way. The older we get, the older our hands get, the deeper the lines, the deeper the character. Nervous people bite their nails. Fancy people paint and lotion, trim and buff. Old, grizzly, crusty men that spend their life toiling in manual labor have calloused, rough, strong hands, their skin as tough and tempered as their hearts and souls. Smokers’ fingers are stained and drawn, victims to addiction and chemical influence. Kids’ nails are overrun by cuticle, not easily trimmed, and usually dirty, all indications of a spirit not yet tamed by expectation or self-awareness.
In my mind, a person’s hands are the most important part of who they are, because THROUGH THEM they initiate change, take action, and live their life.
Cool, huh? :) Do you see what I mean?
I am quite sure that my hands have never bothered me because, from a very young age, they were more true to my authentic self than any other aspect of me.
My hands don’t lie.
Hands don’t lie.
When I look at my hands, I see strength. I see work ethic. I see a lot of my dad, who is the hardest working human being I have ever known. I see my grandpa, a welder from a young age, father to 10 kids, and one of the toughest, crustiest, most infuriating men I have ever known.
When I look at my hands, I see power. I see the dumb post hole digger my dad made us use in rock-ridden ground to lay 250 feet of split-rail fence. I was about ten years old. That post hole digger was hand made out of steel. It weighed more than I did, but I used it. OVER AND OVER I used it, and I got that fence in.
When I look at my hands, I see intelligence. I see a strange piece of mechanical something-or-other sitting in the middle of my palm. My dad said “HEY. The lawn mower isn’t working, fix it,” then he left for work. I stood at the top of the stairs saying “….uuuuuuuum…,” then headed outside to figure out WHY and HOW and WTF. I found the broken piece. I took it out. I took it to the John Deere store, held it out in my palm to the man behind the counter, and said “I need a new one of these.” I didn’t know what it was, but I knew what it did, and I fixed the mower.
When I look at my hands, I see tenacity. I see them searching for the oil filter in my old car. “WHERE IS IT.” I found it behind the wheel well, and since I didn’t have a big enough jack stand, I took the wheel well out. What a pain in the ass. Two hours of my life gone, but I changed my own freaking oil and filter. BOOM.
When I look at my hands, I see love. I see them pulling my babies out during their home births, holding those babies covered in all kinds of muck and life and tears and love. I see them wiping away tears, holding boogery tissues, applying bandages, cleaning up pee and poop and puke, sopping up blood, cutting stitches, gripping tiny bodies close in the dark.
When I look at my hands, I see protection. I see them shooting guns. Reloading. Taking aim. Taking charge, demanding my safety and the safety of my children.
When I look at my hands, I see curiosity and book smarts. I see them moving a pencil across paper, figuring calculus or geometry. Teaching my kids science, drawing pictures, explaining. Thinking. I see hours and hours of homework through high school and college, chemical equations, book reports, math problems, laboratory findings.
When I look at my hands, I see art. Photos. Paintings. Crafts. Cards. Rubber stamps. Glitter. Glue. HOURS AND HOURS spent around a dining room table or over a craft table, creating. Laughing. Folding, taping, cutting, gluing, sketching, shading, tying, layering, sewing, trimming, building.
When I look at my hands, I see masculinity. I see a deep part of myself, not quite girly, for sure not male. I see the sexuality I have struggled with almost all my life, and the dichotomy of identity I spent years struggling with in my guts and head.
When I look at my hands, I see determination. I see an unwillingness to quit. I see the inclination to drive myself into the dirt to stand my ground, the strength required to white-knuckle grip whatever mountain I choose to climb, and the flexibility to bend and sway as life tosses boulders at my head.
Hands don’t lie.
I wonder how it would be if we saw all parts of ourselves, not for their simple, outward appearance, but for their inner truth. If we saw our stretch marks and baby bellies as glorious, wonderful, powerful, god-like temples instead of flawed, used up shame. If we saw our weight and size as wisdom instead of fault, and if we measured our worth in crows feet instead of pounds.
Our inner truth is so much more beautiful and powerful than the fading container it moves around in, it’s a shame we ever sell it short.
Let’s stop that, shall we? :)
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Live every day like it’s your last one. Find yourself, own your truth, and change your whole world. Forge Depth, and never stop digging.
Push on, my friend.
Always push on.